The veil issue again

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Tue Sep 23 08:27:18 MDT 2003

Hi Yves,

Thanks for your message. I always appreciate your sensible posts and
inspirational comments. I don't know about what the Turkish comrades say yet
because they almost never talk to me, except Sabri sometimes but usually he
seems to think I am corny.

The issue about veils is really quite simple. Women should be guaranteed the
legal right to wear what they want to wear, provided that they are prepared
to take the consequences of so doing, and gain some awareness of the effects
and responsibilities which flow from that. This is entirely reasonable, and
if you deny that right, you are being one hell of a sexist, patriarchal
prick, and not just that, also a dour prick who does not understand anything
at all about the role of clothes in society and need to be enlightened by
the best French designers. Implementing this raises a whole range of issues,
but the French are clever enough to work it out. Clothes can cause offence,
but that can usually be settled out of court, unless the French have lost
their traditional preoccupation with good cultural form altogether.

I was over in Switzerland and I had this debate with my aunt, about whether
school uniforms should be compulsory in Nyon, and I argued consistently that
the kids must have the option of wearing uniforms to school or wearing any
other clothes within reason (i.e. within the limits of the norms of their
society and as appropriate to their personal situation; if a kid turns up at
school wearing only underpants I can understand that a teacher would start
an inquiry or send the child home, unless it was in some really hot

When Monsieur Raffarin seeks to pronounce on what clothes post-puberal
schoolgirls may wear, he is being a sexist, patriarchal bourgeois prick and
trying to play parent to kids not under his parental jurisdiction. I
commented on this before on PEN-L, the fact, that the postmodernists want to
obliterate any sensible concept of what an adult is, and what a child is,
and what a parent is, and who is a child around here, and then talk about
pedophilia instead, and it is total rubbish, utter middleclass bunkum.

The idea that a religion could only be expressed outside of school is like
saying that I cannot be a socialist if I take class at a university. This
attitude must be fought tooth and nail. The problem is really different: we
want to know just what this religion that somebody has really means, what is
amounts to in practice, what exactly it consists in, and we cannot know this
if religion must be stashed away or is being rooted out by a new version of
the GPU. At that rate we might as well go the whole hog and distribute stars
of David.

What we need is a general strike of French schoolkids against Raffarin, if
he does not withdraw his stricture. Teens want to be able to wear what they
want to wear or can wear under the circumstances, and that demand is
perfectly reasonable, and if French education is unable to provide
sufficient information about the social role of clothing, then there is a

As Marx says, "the educators need to be educated". Nom de dieu, are we
getting to the stage now where we are saying that people are no longer able
to determine themselves what clothes they ought to wear, or what clothes are
appropriate, never mind what's convenient or comfortable ?


  ----- Original Message -----
  To: bendien at
  Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2003 2:52 PM

  you should cool yourself, Melvin is not the worth of your typing. Have a
nice day!
  PS : about the veil, LCR is deeply divided about the question. Some people
say it is racist to ask muslim women not to have the veil, and some say it
is sexist not to ask them to abandon this symbol of oppression. I believe
they all agree there should be no law about it contrary to french
government. It would be interesting to know the position of turkish
comrades: I believe (not sure at all) the veil (and the fez, the little
round hat for men) is forbidden in Turkey's schools. It was the way of
Ataturk to make Turkey modern, breaking with religion. What do turkish
feminists think about this kind of law?

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