For too long, extraordinary feats of feminist moral blindness have gone unrecognized. But now, those dark days are finally over.
Today, I am pleased to introduce The Naomi Wolf Award, affectionately known as The Howler.
The award bears the name of author Naomi Wolf, a third wave feminist who provoked a blogospheric kerfuffle last year with her impassioned paean to the Muslim veil. After frolicking through a Moroccan bazaar in a headscarf she was under no obligation to wear, Wolf declared, “I felt a novel sense of calm and serenity. I felt, yes, in certain ways, free.”
The Naomi Wolf Award recognizes the failure of feminist commentators to identify Muslim veils, particularly the burqa and the niqab, as powerful symbols of extremist ideology and instruments of subjugation. Nominees will be judged on their use of the rhetoric of freedom and choice to justify these emblems of Islamic gender apartheid.
So without further ado, the inaugural Howler goes to … Jill Filipovic, editor of Feministe, for her analysis of the French parliament’s proposed ban on veils:
Summary: I think it’s silly, an affront to basic freedoms, and ultimately more damaging to the women it claims to protect. Now France is at it again, trying to ban the wearing in public of any item of clothing that covers your face. The law is clearly targeted at French Muslims and Muslim immigrants.
I understand that many people perceive the burqa, or any full-body covering, as a symbol of female submission. Heck, I perceive the stereotypical conservative Christian floor-length denim or flowery dress the same way, so I get it. I don’t have much love lost for any religious tradition that insists the female body is inherently sinful and must be covered.
But my personal opinions on fashion and the female form, and which religious (or irreligious) path I choose to follow? Not great foundations for legally limiting the rights of others.
Jill’s observations are the depraved spawn of cultural relativism and moral equivalence. There is no parallel between the dehumanizing burqa and a modest “flowery dress.”
She flippantly crams the burqa into the “freedom of choice” category, treating it as a mere article of clothing rather than a prison spun from the threads of tyranny, coercion, and oppression. Implicit in her writing is the question, “”But what about women who choose to wear the burqa?”
As long as the status quo on Islamic gender roles remains in place, as long as the fear of death and disfigurement looms large, there can be no meaningful choice for women. The burqa represents the very antithesis of liberty, free will, and equality, a fact Jill willfully neglects as she pays lip service to freedom and rights.
And so, in recognition of the convoluted mental gymnastics required to twist a partial burqa ban into something more harmful to women than the burqa itself, I hereby present Jill Filipovic with her first Howler award.
Congratulations, Jill, it’s well-deserved.