Quebec’s Niqab Ban

I am in favour of it. It is appropriately targeted discrimination. It targets Muslim women who feel compelled to cover their faces in public. People do not cover their faces in public unless they have reasons to fear being looked at or identified. In the case of Muslim women, it is the fear of being subject to the lustful gaze of males who are not their husbands.

Quebec insists, rightly or wrongly, in the assertion of collective values over the choices of individuals. In Quebec and the rest of the western world, women are in general forced to cover themselves from above the breasts to above the knees. We do not think twice about it except when a woman wants to go topless somewhere else than the beach. Even toplessness at the beach is considered provocative in most places. Yet these rules exist and police enforce them. Men as well as women are frequently told by store signs: “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. This is plainly discriminatory, and society generally agrees with the discrimination.

The National Post today is filled with shrill defences of the right of Islamic women to be shamed into covering their faces. Who do you think enforces the shaming? Islamic men, of a particular and strictly Islamic disposition. Body shaming of this sort is the worst form of misogyny, and reinforces power of the Islamic shame culture. Quebec society has had the guts to say no, as in just say no to Islamic body shaming. Is this discriminatory? You betcha.Is it a just and reasonable discrimination? Yes, absolutely.

[The logic of this reasoning about the female face and the male gaze suggests that soon some women in universities will be covering their faces too, so as to escape the “male gaze”, one of the favoured tropes of feminist furies. Face coverings will be labelled progressive.]

In the Islamic idea of male-female relations, it is always the female who is responsible for inciting male lust. Males are not expected to show any control whatever; they are the passive victims of female provocations. The female is covered up to prevent public indecency, because women by their nature are indecent.

Quebec has shown much greater sense than the English-Canadian commentariat about the real reasons women wear the niqab, and much better sense that the collective has a right to insist of public standards of decorum, including not only what must be covered, but what must be uncovered.