Young Muslim women will definitely save money on bikini wax and suntan lotion at the beach this year.
That's because the burkini, the latest in swimwear for Muslim women, is making its appearance and creating quite a stir on Australia's beaches, famous for their scantily-attired females. A hybrid of the Islamic burqa and the Western world's much-beloved bikini, the lycra, two-piece bathing suit covers its wearer from head to foot, showing only the hands, feet and face.
The full-length swimsuit's designer, Lebanon-born Aheda Zanetti, told the media her lightweight creation is meant to allow Muslim women to enjoy water sports, while still remaining modestly dressed. The burkini also differs from other Muslim swimwear for females already in existence, Zanetti said, in that it is the first two-piece suit incorporating a head covering. Up until now, Muslim women have been wearing heavy robes and dresses to the beach unsuitable for swimming. (Who says there isn't progress being made for women in the Islamic world?)
While the burkini's appearance may elicit jokes (one wag has described their wearers as ninja wannabes), one has to question whether it represents a loosening up of restrictions on Muslim women to allow them to swim, as the sale of almost ten thousand burkinis, each costing $140 to $160, attests, or is it still just another embarrassing tactic to oppress them and to further institutionalize Muslim gender apartheid. Whatever the case, when one examines the facts of the eeny-weenie burkini story, there is nothing teensie-weensie about it.
Admittedly, the burkini has benefits. It liberates thousands of young Muslim women to enjoy the beach and a previously denied opportunity for healthy exercise with extra protection from the sun's ultra violet rays. It also protects them from men's unwanted stares, which has also prompted some non-Muslim women to buy the burkini. A few burkini-clad women have even been accepted for life guard training, an Australian institution, furthering their integration into Australian society. Especially after the Cronulla Beach riots of late 2005 between white Australians and Lebanese, this is welcome.
But it is outrageous that these young Muslim women still have to cover up in order to go into the water. It violates the Western concept of freedom of choice that these women are not allowed to choose what kind of swimsuit to wear. After all, there is no similar restriction on young Muslim men. But this is the same culture that allows the men to have four wives; grants male suicide bombers 72 virgins in heaven; doesn't allow women to drive a car in Saudi Arabia; and forces cliterectomies on defenseless girls, among other gender horrors.
Besides, it wasn't the Muslim women but rather Lebanese men making offensive, sexual comments to white Australian girls that were one of the roots of the Cronulla riots. The Muslim women know how to behave when having fun in the sun. However, the perverted, sick attitudes of some of their male counterparts towards the opposite sex were starkly exhibited in the horrific and sadistic Sydney gang rapes of 2000, in which nine mentally degenerate Muslim Lebanese men received altogether 244 years in prison for the planned, savage gang rapes of Australian women, some as young as fourteen.
It sends a message. The onus is still on Muslim women to cover up if they do not want to be treated like Australian women on the beach or, even worse, like the Australian women were in 2000. In their sexually repressed religious culture, Muslim women are held responsible for the men's behavior. If a man loses sexual self-control, then the woman must not have been modest enough in dress and behavior, and is to blame. Even the controversial Mufti of Australia confirmed this twisted attitude when, blaming women for rape, he said: "The uncovered meat is the problem." The Mufti also went on to describe women as weapons of Satan to control men.
And even though the burkini covers Muslim women from head to foot, it still may be too revealing, for no Muslim religious leader in Australia, says Zanetti, has endorsed it (except for the above-mentioned mufti who is probably exercising damage control for his outrageous comments). In fact, Zanetti says she has received heavy criticism from some Muslims regarding her creation and even a death threat. It seems a well-turned ankle and the visible curves of a burkini-clad woman are still too much for some of these eternally-angry Muslim men who fear succumbing to ungovernable sexual desire at the sight of a Muslim beach babe.
The same arguments can also be used regarding the burkini's wearing as for the Muslim headscarf and veil in Western European countries. Firstly, this non-revealing swimsuit can be viewed as another sign of the creeping Islamization of Western society, as it represents a concession to the sharia legal order, which calls for the covering up of women (burkinis will soon go on sale in Europe and most likely will eventually make an appearance on American beaches). As well, like the veil and the head scarf, the burkini would also represent a conscious self-segregation of its Muslim wearers from the Western society, in which they live, and its values.
Nevertheless, the burkini has gone to the beach in Australia - and maybe soon to one near you.
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