Oppression is in the eye of the beholder, you know. Having spent my undergrad years up to my elbows in literature on marriage and families, this is a topic that's graced my intellect on more than one occasion.
With the dawn of the feminism age in the mid-1900s, droves of women proclaimed their independence and threw off the fetters that bound them to narrow, socially acceptable roles. The message to society was simply this: "How dare you tell us what we cannot do based on gender? How dare you confine women to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen? How dare you tell us we're worth nothing more than a gaggle of children and a few loaves of homemade bread?"
But if I may interject here, let us not forget that the sword cuts both ways. While equal opportunity is all well and good, it is my opinion that we have veered much too far in the contrary direction. In an effort to proclaim their right to wear business suits and earn paychecks comparable to their male counterparts, my feminist sisters, perhaps inadvertently, knocked sexual prejudice on its little head and took things for a 180-degree spin.
Case in point: society now places a firm taboo against telling a woman that she doesn't belong in the corporate world; however, society loves to tell women like me -- women who, yes, admittedly, firmly place motherhood as our primary goal in life -- that we are aiming too low. That raising children is old-fashioned and simple-minded. That we are less intelligent, less capable and less ambitious than the female CEOs and political leaders of the world. That women who choose full-time motherhood are just stay-at-home moms.
What once again brought this double-edged topic to my attention was France's recent ban on wearing burqas in public. The burqa, traditionally worn by Muslim women in public places, is a veil that reveals little more than a woman's eyeballs, worn with a robe that reveals little more than her hands. Society, round up your cavalries and raise your red flags: how dare a religion tell a woman she must cover herself in public? How dare a culture so brutally oppress a gender?
If I may interject again, let me point out what the burqa truthfully represents: respect. Many Muslim women wear the burqa because they respect their bodies to such a degree that they do not wish to flaunt it to the world. How sad is it that society screams "oppressive and wrong" at this, while plastering billboards and media with pornographic depictions that shriek "liberating and right."
I admit that corrupted dictators and governments have tainted society's view of traditional Islam with their extremist attitudes and, yes, oppression of women. But surely it is a logical fallacy to brand a religious practice as 100-percent erroneous because it has been warped at the hands of fanatics. Perhaps we are the ones with a warped idea of what is truly beautiful.
If we ever tried to put a ban on immodesty, the world might simply implode. Heaven forbid free expression that dictates reverence and respect for a woman's body by covering it rather than revealing it.
Forgive me, but something about this doesn't sit well with me.
So if I may: France, how dare you?