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The Burkini

It seems ridiculous that a piece of clothing has become a global thing now. Usually this is the way it goes with a fashion item (don’t we all love to talk about how ugly Crocs, Uggs and man buns are? ) but in this case, suddenly the law is involved. Because it is about a piece of clothing that hides most of the person.

The burkini.

Meant to display a woman in the only way that is allowed by their religion, or so it seems.

In reality, France has tried to get the burkini banned by law in means of trying to prevent their country for more disasters. Something you could relate to in a way, since so much has occurred in France in means of attacks since a few years ago. In that sense, you can understand how France wants to be able to protect itself and its citizens from further attacks. Not completely weird there.

Then the item itself. What does a burkini mean?
It means that the person is islamic, as stated before, but mainly: a woman. And probably one with a strict view on her religion, or at least her husband has, if the choice for beach- or swimmingpoolwear goes to the burkini.
Is it obligatory wear? You know it isn’t, or else the burkini would have spiked discussions much earlier. It is, in other words, the free choice of women from any type of views to wear this. Because more religions have the ‘women need to be covered as much as possible’ etiquette. Usually the more strict ones, those who call themselves orthodox.
And stricter views are the views that are watched far more precaucious these days, as extremists appear to hide under these exact views. Seems, since we read so many times a week or month how in the USA someone has performed a mass shooting again, but that’s another side story.
Apparently.
People shooting other people for being gay, black or in any other way a minority, aren’t nearly as important to focus on as people who decide to go to the beach with a massive bathing suit on.

So what is that all about then? Do we all care that much?
I know I don’t.

But I do get it. From a different point of view, however.

I come from a family of strong women. Women that meant something during the war, who made their own living, who had a family, who stood up for themselves if necessary and had the blessing of their spouses to do so. Spouses who didn’t hit their women, who went to church and didn’t think of telling their wives, my grandmothers, what to do. One was a nurse, the other one a dentist. They both had hobbies, they both had contact with mixed companies, meaning men and women. Their husbands had no problems with this whatsoever. They were allowed to speak to these men without hiding any aspect of themselves. There were never any seperate occasions.
Given that I myself used to live in a neighbourhood where I was called ‘whore’ by a bastard on a scooter of a certain culture, I do have my concern about these burkinis and about burkas and niqaabs.
You see, our (Dutch) court, has ruled once that a young woman, who got raped after a night out, where the suspect had said that ‘she was asking for it, with that short skirt’, that the suspect was wrong about this. That no girl or woman is EVER ‘asking for it’, dressing the way she does. This is the country I live in. It’s the law I live by. It is the law that respects my being a human being, just the way I am. I love that. Because it means I can dress however I want, knowing I still have the complete right to my own body, without anybody else having a say about it, nor access to it. By law and by culture.

A burkini is telling me: ‘that suspect in the court was right. It was the girls’s  fault. She should not have worn a skirt that short. It exites men. That’s our <women’s> fault’. A burkini tells me there’s yet another place I should suddenly be careful for myself and be aware there’s such a thing as a religion. The burkini says that everything I believe in, including ‘men and women are equal’ is wrong.
And I do not wish to become a victim of that, because I myself do NOT choose to wear a burkini. I don’t wanna be called a ‘whore’ because some pesky bastards choose to teach their boys that girls and women, no matter what they do, are always wrong. And by wearing these burkinis I feel like they indulge men by not showing too much. I’v never heard of a burkini being obligatory anywhere, and if it were, I’d strongly want men to wear one aswell, because otherwise I don’t think it’s fair. Why should only women have to cover themselves up?

So do I think this law should be law? No, because it would only make things worse. It wouldn’t help a thing, except from estranging these women even more from outer life. I’d say make these women stronger. Let them know there’s life outside the shell they’re being kept in. Make ‘m feel heard instead of make ‘m a criminal. But also: teach these women there is a life outside the shortsighted shell that they choose to live in. That there are people who will love them, embrace them as their own, as soon as they try to escape that life that denies them the freedom to be so.

I’ve published this blog before. I had a few responses of women who told me they could be just as strong wearing exactly the type of clothes that they were told to.
“I know women who wear it by choice, and they love that”. Yes. Ever heard of Stockholm syndrome? Being told it’s the only way to live a good life, doesn’t make it voluntarily.

But then again, that’s just me.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2016 in Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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The Magdalene Sisters (review)

This film with, amongst others, Dorothy Duffy, Nora-Jane Noone and Anne-Marie Duff, tells the dreadful story about the Irish, catholic way of handling young girls/young women who have been going through puberty and all its consequences.
You’d think it’s dramatised. Or at least you hope it is.

Unfortunately this is not the case.

When the film came out, previous inhibitants of these laundrettes ran by nuns protested: said it didn’t show honest enough what went on inside those walls.
That it was way more awful.
You see three girls being brought there and the reason why.
One girl has given birth to a baby whilst unmarried. Her baby is taken away from her, seconds after she has been forced to draw papers to give him up for adoption. Another girl has been raped by her own cousin during a weddingparty and another one, an orphan, likes the wandering eyes of boys too much (apparently).
This is silly enough in itself, but the daily amount of abuse the girls receive is incredible. And all in the name of God. I was raised an atheist, which doesn’t help, but you can’t help thinking: a victim of a rape shouldn’t be treated this way. Also, no girl deserves to be called a ‘whore’ when any of this occurs.
It’s a powerful portrait. It also shows how vile religious life is towards any young girl or woman, because, let’s face it, there’s religions nowadays who forbid women to so much as show themselves, in case a man feels his urges coming up. You see, when you’re part of a religion, it’s always the woman’s fault. NOT EVER the man. Not ever. And if you can find an example where this is different, then please let me know. I’m honestly curious.
Back to the film:
Seeing how the nuns (the main one played by Geraldine McEwan, which she does so well indeed, as you honestly hate her at some point) consider themselves so much better than any of these girls. More priviliged. Factually, they were guards in a prison. While at the same time, they kept innocents.
How they ate in the same room as the girls, but behind a fancy bar and eating far more nutricious and tasteful food. Bread, butter, milk, jam,tea, etc. Where the girls had some sort of porridge while the Bible was read out loud. Of course.
The girls have to wash clothes and beddings and so on, are not allowed to speak to one another. When there’s already someone in there with a same name, the nuns would take your name too.
The girl who has given birth has not healed yet, but doesn’t receive any help when it comes to her milk being stuck in her breasts.
After the girls have taken a shower, they are obliged to parade in front of the nuns, who make fun of them. In the nude. For a young person in the bloom of life, that’s just cruel.
Any girl who objects, will be punished by slaps on the legs, arms or whatever with wood or leather. Speaking of anything else than a Bible is pretty much forbidden.
I do wonder what the exact goal of these Mary Magdalene Laundrettes was. Was it to simply punish the girls? The nuns that were ruling, if they had to apply for a job there, what was the exact job description? Was it to be ‘as cruel as humanly possible’?  There was no happy ending for these girls except for running away and flea the country, that’s for sure.
In the film you see a girl who ran away being returned by her father, who slaps her with a belt, tells her she no longer has a family, that they do not wish to have anything to do with her, tells her she’s a whore, that they are ALL whores and so on. The head nun is present when this happens. You can clearly see the nun doesn’t want to interfere because she wants all the girls in that dormitory to know just how unwanted they all are. If the father would have struck his daughter with an axe, I’m sure the nun wouldn’t have done anything either, for it was supposed to be an example to the other girls.

Anyone who considers rape to be not so much of an issue, should see this film. Because these are girls who told about their rape. They expected help. And I know you’ll say ‘but this is a different time, it’s different now!’ and I’m telling you that your consideration of ‘you should have cooperated then’, or ‘it was your own fault’, is the exact same message that is carried out by these bloody nuns. Nothing will change for any girl, if rape isn’t considered a serious crime and the perpetrator is ‘just a naughty boy’ of sorts. It’s not. It’s not a small issue. Having sex is a major change in a girls’ life, which should never be taken lightly.

I was surprised when, in the end, it turned out that one of the girls kept a very steep faith. If anything, this film prevented me from having any faith in faith at all.
These nuns should have been prosecuted. I hope some of them did. I’m afraid of the answer. In my opinion, they were nothing short of a guard in Auschwitz. If I would know where their graves are, I would tapdance on top of them. They were the worst nightmare for any young woman growing up. The worst thing is: with all of the talks about the church sexually abusing the youngest of persons in their care, I don’t recall EVER hearing or reading about these Mary Magdalene Laundrettes. That’s the biggest shame of all.

This film is powerful to watch and I’d recommend to see it. Just keep the tissues ready as the feeling of injustice will crawl into your mind and body.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Films, Opinion

 

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