When I was overseas just recently in Barcelona, England and Dubai, I was reminded of a culture I have seen in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.
Sure, I saw the niquab in Dubai and in England. Sure I saw this as the expression of not only freedom of religion but also the freedom to suppress women into an inferior position in society.
I will defend anyone’s freedom to express their c in symbols. We have all seen the “cross” earrings, we have all ween the “dog-collar” of priests and vicars etc. we have all ween the traditional dress worn by Orthodox priests. We have all seen the orange robes worn by Buddhist monks and nuns.
We have all seen the need to shave the heads of Buddhist monks and nuns but do we object? Nah!
What I saw in Melbourne and Sydney and of course here in Canberra was the subjugation of women in more subtle ways. Many women in these cities still see their role in life as a homemaker, read – stay at home, raise kids, do the housework, make meals for a man who goes to work to earn the family income. This and while the “man of the house” sits on his ample derriere and does bugger all!
Mowing the lawn and doing small scale handyman stuff just doesn’t cut it with me.
How many times in my youth and more recently, have I heard the “lady of the house” say “I have to get his dinner”, “I have the washing to do, so I can’t come out”?
During the numerous election campaigns I handed out How-to-Vote card and I saw in Canberra suburbs examples of willing subjugation which appalled me. Get this!
I was handing out at Gowrie (and Wanniassa, Fadden, Gordon, Chifley and more so don’t feel left out) and offered one to a lady with a child. Her response was “It’s ok, I’ll follow my husband” others said “I’ll use his”, or “we vote as a family (after he had taken the card)”.
The social circles I wander in don’t do this but I have seen it many times. It is real and it is there under our eyes. And what do we do about it?
Perhaps the burqa and niquab are symbols of suppression of women. But they’re not the only symbols and they are not the only reality.
Perhaps we should look closer to home and come up with something a bit deeper than the superficiality of the current conversation around a piece of clothing.