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the things we say

It amuses me the things that people get upset about. I’m obviously queen of getting upset about the stupid things people say that are reported in the newspaper, but it amuses me when I find myself on the “wrong” side.

For example, here I thought Pru Goward had for the first time in a couple of years said something reasonable (and feminist) only to find all these female commentators abusing her.

In case you missed it, she said:

“I have to admit that the burqa is very confronting — its blackness, the net over the eyes. It’s hard to know how much of it is religious and how much of it is tribal or … cultural.
“(But) we wear high heels. We torture our feet. Women all over the world have dress codes that, either willingly or unwillingly, they impose upon themselves that are ugly and distorting and unhealthy and it’s part of the oppression of women all over the world … People are entitled to wear the clothes that they want to wear.”

Commentators were appalled at her comment, thought it was inappopriate of her to compare burqas to high heels, that she was trivialising the plight of Muslim women. But I think she’s absolutely right. Burqas, niqabs, whatever, are the far end of a continuum of oppression of women in all societies that women to some degree participate in. And ultimately, you have the “right” to participate in your own oppression. Or to not see it as oppression at all. (I for one am an opponent of high heels.)

And then there was the outcry on the part of disability advocates after Minister Cobb said that he would institutionalise a severely disabled child if he had one. The advocates thought he should be sacked for insensitivity and discrimination against the disabled. But I can’t figure out what is so terrible about allowing professional carers to take care of a severely disabled child. Especially if that disabled child is a member of a family with siblings and two parents who have to work. Not to mention that “institutionalised” is a very vague term. Does it mean putting a child away in a full-time hospital for the rest of their lives or a day centre program with schoooling and social activities?

Andrew Bolt was one columinst who willfully misread Goward’s comments so he could bag her out and he included this quote from Germaine Greer:

“Told that Saudi Arabian women were banned for religious reasons from driving, she said she understood: ‘I get a bit worried about certain heavily veiled ladies driving because they have no peripheral vision at all.’

I love Germaine. Leave it to her to inject some humour into tense and polarised debate.

Rachel F

One thought on “the things we say

  1. I think comparing high heels to burqas is absurd. I know she’s trying to make a point about women’s “dress codes” and oppression, but who ever heard of a woman getting ostracised or beaten for not wearing high heels?

    Incidentally, I love high-heeled shoes – not accident-inducing stillettos, but big chunky heels that say “don’t fuck with me”.

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