The Daria Perspective

August 01, 2015

Ban the Burqa Ignorance

For the past 12 months, there has been a growing amount of islamophobia in Australia, from 'ban the burqa,' to the 'reclaim Australia' movement. The other day I saw the following post in my Facebook feed:

The following video addresses just some of the prejudice that is directed at muslim women who wear clothing such as niqabs, hijabs or burqas.

Traditional Islamic clothing is worn because of either cultural or religious reasons. As stated in the video, the way that religious texts, such as the Qu'ran, are interpreted change as societal values and expectations change. This may be a contributing factor as to why there is a greater pressure on muslim women to dress modestly in a traditional sense, than there is for muslim men.

The prejudice against burqas, niqabs, etc is a manifestation of xenophobia in Australia. It is not due to any real threat that women who wear burqas pose, or any acts of violence that have been committed by women wearing them. What a person is wearing does not make them any more likely to commit a crime. The clothing worn by the criminal is chosen in accordance with the crime they hope to commit- not the other way around.

The burqa is a long-standing symbol of women's oppression, because of the horrors that women who haven't worn them have been forced to endure, and because of the deep misogynistic oppression that led to women being forced to wear them in certain parts of the world. It is important to remember however, that the burqa is not the cause of disempowerment, although it can be a method. Women being forced to wear the burqa is a deeply obvious side-effect of misogyny and religious absolutism, just as prejudice against the burqa is a side-effect of misplaced fear, ignorance and xenophobia.

The burqa is not oppressive in itself, and arguments for 'banning the burqa' based upon this premise are in fact disempowering to women as they take rights away from those who would wear them of their own volition. Whenever someone is forced to wear a certain type of clothing against their will, it is not the clothing, but the oppressive forces behind the clothing, that are the problem; and this is what needs to be addressed. Banning the clothing does nothing to solve the oppression driving it, it only takes away the rights of those who would choose to wear it of their own accord.

I am not a religious person and there are many good reasons for that. This video is not about religion. It is about stopping persecution. It is about eliminating the ignorance that leads to muslim women being targets of violence because of their clothing. It is about how important it is to stop the the fear-mongering that leads to this persecution. It is about ensuring that people can go about their lives without having to live in fear.

Below I've attached just a few comments I found interesting that were left in the Facebook comments thread on the original image that was posted.

Many were unsupportive of the post:

However others were of a different opinion:

July 21, 2015

Trans Courage

This video is a response a picture that was posted all over Facebook the other day. I know that it's not the most eloquent of videos, but it's something I feel very strongly about, hence why it is like it is.

To say that coming out as a transgender person is not courageous is to deny the discrimination that they face, whilst simultaneously contributing the culture of hate and violence that makes life for transgender people so incredibly hard. 

When you look at the statistics of discrimination and violence against trans people (which is in fact incredibly underreported, and largely unaddressed), it's impossible not to realise how difficult it is for transgender people to come out, knowing the incredible prejudice, violence and abuse that awaits. Being aware of this, it is then impossible not to see that it is a true act of phenomenal bravery for transgender people to accept themselves, be true to themselves, and refuse to be ignored or silenced in a society that seemingly wants to do just that. 

In accordance with my parting words- 'people who contribute to this culture of violence and hate need to grow a brain, and have some empathy'- I remain at a loss as to how so many people can be seemingly incapable of either thinking logically about this, or having at least a modicum of empathy with which to view this issue.

I find it to be a despicable state of affairs, that people have to either hide their true selves, and hate themselves or feel ashamed for it, or instead be true to themselves, and be hated by others for it.

Safety is not a privilege. It is a right. And it is a right being denied of far too many people.

Because of the imprecise nature of statistics on transgender violence, I did not include statistics in the video. However, I have looked into this a lot, and despite the relatively small discrepancies between studies, they all show utterly unacceptable rates of violence against transgender people. Below are a range of resources if you would like to further explore this topic, and see these rates for yourself.

Forge Forward (US)
Office For Victims Of Crime (US)
Transgender Law (US)
Huffington Post (US)
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (US) - this is quite comprehensive
Gender Centre (AU) - transgender experiences of going to the police
National Centre for Transgender Equality
Gay or transgender youth feel alienated by faith-based homeless services (AU)
Beyond Blue - LGBTI People; Mental Health & Suicide (AU)
Violence, Harassment & Bullying (AU)
Violence, Harassment & Bullying - Equality (AU)

Make Up Free Makeup Look (Satire)

A sort of parody I made in like ten minutes the other night. 
A satirical 'makeup free makeup look.'
A response to a ridiculous and harmful expectation.

July 12, 2015

Armpits and Body Control

This video is about my experience not shaving, the no shave no shade movement, and societal body control and the way that we are pressured to conform to a particular, narrowly defined, image.

In the video I don't talk a whole lot about what it was like personally for me to stop shaving, so I'd like to elaborate here a little. 

As I say in the video, I stopped shaving because I like the aesthetic, and I made this post a while after I stopped shaving in the interests of exposing people to it. Even though I like how it looks, and have no problem with female body hair, a lot of people do take issue with it. And these people tend to be quite vocal. So the decision to stop shaving was easy for me, but going out in public where people may potentially see my armpit hair, that was not so easy. Even though I was completely fine and comfortable with my own body hair, it was really quite difficult for me to be comfortable with other people seeing it. It has been drilled into me (mostly by taunting peers) from the time I first began to have body hair, that it is not a thing that women should have; it's gross, disgusting, abhorrent. And therefore it's socially acceptable for people point out, and make you feel bad about, if you do have body hair. The idea of this, and my previous experiences of being jeered for having leg hair, or for not shaving fastidiously, made me incredible self conscious in public. In the video I say that when people saw, they either didn't comment or didn't care, and while this is true, I don't regularly go around waving my arms in the air in public, and therefore nobody really had any opportunity to actually comment on it. I know from experience, and from all of what I have seen online (especially around events like Movember), that a great many people are repulsed by the idea of seeing a woman as she is in her natural state.

Despite my lack of faith in the general public, I have a great group of close friends who know the importance of letting people be people in whatever way that makes them comfortable. My friends were indifferent to my hair, or they agreed that they too liked the aesthetic, or even if they didn't, they accepted it regardless. I think we need to treat everyone like that; whatever choices someone else makes about their body and how they want to look, we need to learn to accept it, because it simple doesn't effect us. In doing this, we will create the freedom to be precisely who we want to be, and feel comfortable doing it, because we won't be pressured out of it.