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Blow To Feminism: Exploring How Recent French Hijab Ban Polices Women's Right To Style & Religious Freedom

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April 13, 2021

The French Senate recently voted to ban the hijab for girls under 18 along with other policing bills. This ruling comes as a shock in our modern feminist society as it upholds opposing values. 

France is considered one of the more liberal first-world countries, yet their latest hijab ruling proves otherwise. The country’s Senate ruled for a controversial bill that bans public wearing of the hijab for girls and women at schools.

There are additional dress policing laws that supplement the bill, which is discriminative of religion and gender. Below we will explore how this recent ban takes feminism and freedom back by several decades. 

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Dress Codes As Oppression

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The female body has been highly politicized for centuries as an unfortunate after-effect of misogyny. From childhood, young girls are told how they should and shouldn’t present themselves in the world. 

Policing the way a woman dresses indicates how society sees and deems fit to treat them. Ancient Romans identified women by their manner of dress, which determined whether they could be targets for assault. 

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Centuries later, more restrictive dress codes spread amongst different cultures to control and mark women. Nowadays, we experience these practices at school, sporting events, and other institutions.  

Dress codes have become even more complex as people of varying races and cultures interact more often. Enforcing garment-related laws has become a way to control beliefs, cultures, and racial representation. 

How The French Hijab Ban Upholds A Misogynistic Society

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Besides being inherently Islamophobic and racist in nature, the French Senate’s recent ban is also misogynistic. We’ve identified that dress codes solely exist to police and control women’s bodies. 

Wearing a hijab is a choice that women make to bring themselves closer to their faith. According to law student and Muslim woman Imaan, the option is part of what makes wearing a hijab sacred to many women.

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“I think for me, having the choice is very important; for whatever that choice might be. When a government starts dictating to you what your choices are and should be, they’re taking away autonomy from the citizens.”

Says Imaan 

She explains that wearing the hijab in a modern context is a liberating choice for many Muslim women. Consequently, taking the option to make that decision is restrictive and more oppressive than anything. 

Exploring The Systematic Issue 

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It’s unfortunate that women must deal with trying to take control of their bodies in 2021. Even more so in a country that considers itself democratic and part of a liberal global modern society like France. 

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It is no secret that France colonized many Muslim countries in the past. Like many other colonial countries, France has been open to redressing its colonial history but still has many systemic flaws. 

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 “When we want to be part of a global society, it calls for acknowledgment of different religions and preferences. I think it’s problematic that France would call itself a modern and global state in light of their ban.”

Says Imaan

The ban is an apparent indication of the misogynistic and discriminative institutional practices and beliefs. There is genuine concern for women’s safety in a country with such restrictions towards women and Muslims.

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