Thursday, September 16, 2010


So there are certain hoops I need to jump through to get my long stay visa and I am getting a sort of sick pleasure filling out my forms with a crappy ball point pen.

The next step is to mail my forms by “registered post” with a “requested return receipt.” The words they gave me are: “Reccommandé avec accusé de reception.” I’m mailing them to an office not very far from Kadin’s school and thinking it might actually be easier for me to just take it there than to try to explain all this at the post.

What I really want to do is make my own form that says “I have received the following documents from Jennifer Knuth” “Sousignée le xxxxx á xxxx” and take my ball point-pen-filled forms down, hand them to someone, have the person who receives them sign my form, take a out a stamp, and stamp it. Thunk! And I think I’ll wear a burka when I do it. That would feel so good!

This burka thing is still really bothering me. The French senate just voted overwhelmingly (like 243 to 1) to outlaw wearing a burka in public. I’m not even sure if the French senate is elected and represents the views of the majority of French citizenry, but I just don’t see the logic behind this mandate. It’s completely out of line.

And I've heard almost nothing about this on the news (not that I can understand the news). I am able to make out that there is a ton of coverage of "l'affair Bettancourt" and the "manifests" and "gréves." The new retirement age is certainly getting a lot of play, the deportation of the Roma. Maybe I just don't know the French word for burka. Still.

I mean the French are so tolerant of so much. Certainly it is completely accepted and appropriate to wear more revealing clothes than would be the case in the US. When I went to Kadin’s back to school night for his English class, the English teacher, who is from England, was wearing a form fitting, longsleeved, tan, crew neck t-shirt, which was all very well and good, but underneath it you could clearly see that she was wearing a busty, lacy, corset thing. This is completely normal. Carina said at her back to school night for Sam’s French class, the teacher was wearing tight white jeans with an obvious black g-string underneath. Again, completely appropriate. But a burka? Apparently that’s a no go.

The only thing I can think is that because the French so value tolerance and openness, the in-your-face symbolism of the burka infuriates them. They really see it as an ostentatious display of religion and they find that very offensive. Their anger is so blinding they can’t see their hypocrisy. At least that is the only explanation I can come up with. That and a deep, underlying fear of the “other.”

So I was envisioning a protest of my own where everyone wears burkas. We could even march down the streets, stop the trams… It would disentangle clothes from religion, just make it part of choosing to wear what we want, when we want. No big deal. Right?


Dais said...

I'd join your protest in a heart beat. How embarrassing that they're making a big deal out of that. I want to storm around with a burka and my Fr. passport!

Mom said...

One of the stated objections to the burka (which may not be the real reason) is that a terrorist could operate hidden inside one. That, at least, was one of the arguments in next-door Switzerland. But the ban sends such a negative message to the rest of the world, not to mention its basic unfairness to those women who choose to wear a burka for religious or cultural reasons.