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Who the hell made Virginia Hausegger god?

By johnboy 30 June 2009 156

Apparently in Saturday’s Canberra Times the ABC newsreader Virginia Hausegger held forth on how she felt muslim women choosing to wear the burqa were in such breach of the basic tenets of our society that there “orta be a law agin it”.

This has sparked furious agreement by the letter writers of the Canberra Times.

I know that ABC newsreaders are made to feel important, but since when were they given the power to adjudicate what is acceptable clothing?

As a sensible man I like to stay as far away as possible from what women choose to wear. And amongst the sisterhood Virginia is free to argue that choosing to wear the burqa is counter-productive to woman-kind.

But once we start legislating clothing choices because they fly in the face of some perceived quality of Holy Orstralianess where are we going to stop?

What else will we ban on Virginia’s whim?

UPDATE: The original article can be found on Virginia’s blogspot.

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156 Responses to
Who the hell made Virginia Hausegger god?
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georgesgenitals 8:30 pm 08 Mar 10

I’d wear a burqa if they were white, with my face completely covered. And I’d hide around corners, raise my arms and go “WOOOOOOOOOOO”! when people went past.

CHW 9:23 am 08 Mar 10

Personally, if allowing my hair, face, skin and form to be seen by the men of my race turned them into lustful predators unable to focus on their proper busines… well, I would be campaigning to change cultural attitudes, not hiding myself away.

cleo 12:15 am 08 Mar 10

I wonder if their men had to wear the horrible bloody things how they would feel, I’m sure that they would certainly not wear them, there seems to be one rule for the woman and one for the men.

I-filed 4:14 pm 07 Mar 10

Anyone remember John Doyle’s drama effort on the ABC a few years ago? The heroine was a young muslim woman, and there was a romance between her and a “typical country Aussie kid”. ABC decided they had to write “burqa removal” into the script to make the heroine palatable. So, sure enough, a little way into the series, the young woman’s “strict, muslim parent” dad mysteriously allowed her to uncover her head for the remainder of the story. Allowing her to look acceptable as a “subject of romance”. When an Australian TV show allows an actress to keep her head covered AND be the object of a young man’s interest, we will be getting somewhere …
Any talk of whether wearing head covering is OK, is irrelevant if on-the-ground prejudice against social interaction with “covered” women is going to endure.

dzasta 2:23 pm 07 Mar 10

I spent some time in in the Middle East. Lebanon seemed to be the only place where you could see local women wearing what they wanted – western style clothing.

In most of the places I visited, western women had to wear clothes that covered up hair, arms, legs, trunk. They had to comply with local custom. Why can’t women from the middle east comply with our custom here?

These people live life according to the dictates of their religion and/or their local mullah. Democracy is anathema to them.

You don’t know who you are dealing with when someone is wearing a burka. It could even be a bloke

ant 9:41 pm 02 Jul 09

I do hate having to resort to Firefox to post on jiggered topics.

So who tonight saw the 7.30 Report? It featured Virginia Hausegger’s report on her visit to Afganistan with an amazing woman, who was an Afgan refugee during the Russian occupation (well, the most recent Russian occupation) who runs orphanages and schools and clinics through money she raises here, from her base in North Ryde.

Here it is, for those who missed it:

The images of widows begging in the streets were no less upsetting than when seen in all the preceding docos. They all wore burqa, all had no hope, no rights, no nothing.

At least they weren’t being beaten by the Taliban authorities now, as they were when they tried begging in the Taliban days. A widow might as well commit suicide, as without males to protect her, she was as good as dead. She couldn’t work, couldn’t even go outside the house without a male relative, and without means of support, she could just starve to death with her kids.

So, Hausegger is a “racist”, is she? Please watch this and then come and say how she’s a racist.

sometimes I really despair. When you don’t have an argument, call your opponent a racist, it’s very effective.

Skidbladnir 11:24 am 02 Jul 09

There is a fantastic comment on Virginia Hausegger’s blogspot that says what I was getting at and more, and says it from a previously burqa wearing point-of-view.
She also references her own paper-in progress, well worth reading.

Umm Yasmin said…
July 1, 2009 10:20 PM


I’d like to point out that more than one type of Muslim woman wears what is being referred to colloquially as “burqa”. I am a Muslim feminist–I believe that gender should not be a cause of differentiating value in an individual, either publicly or privately–but I have veiled my face from time to time. I enjoy the privacy of subverting the panopticon of the male gaze, and I would do it more often but for the fact that it carries such stigma in Australia.

Essentially this reflects two issues. The first is the question about the settlement and integration of indigenous Muslim populations in Europe and the English-speaking world. The face-veil is a very dramatic signal that now there are Western Muslims, and religious ones at that, who are here to stay. Here in Australia, we are better placed than the Old World to accept and dare I say even embrace this fact, due to our common migrant heritage (except for Indigenous Aboriginals, it’s a matter of a few generations and we’re all children of migrants) and also our official policy of multiculturalism.

In France, Britain and Germany etc. we are seeing a real struggle with the realisation that no longer is it a racial or ethnic identity to be French, British, or German, because there is a growing percentage of the population that is French of North African ancestry (for example). The French are really struggling with this.

As Olivier Roy also says, it’s also a reflection of the struggle between aggressive secularism and the resurgence of religiosity. And not all religiosity is fundamentalism. The religious veil signals that religiosity is not privatised and excluded from the public realm. France is going to have to come to grips that its privileging of Christianity over any other religion (including Judaism, Islam, Sikhism etc.) is not the same as asserting secularism.

Finally, it is about the wrong type of patriarchy. Sarkozy doesn’t mind his wife having appeared in nude photographs, because this is part of the approved patriarchy of France, one in which women are objectified and their sexual attractiveness equates to worth and value. Hence, a woman can ‘choose’ to make the right choice of exposing her body in varying degrees to the public male gaze. However, God forbid that another man’s patriarchy might assert itself in France, where a woman makes the ‘wrong’ choice to cover her body and hide herself from the male gaze. How can *either* forcing the veil (a la Saudi Arabia) or forcing unveiling be empowering and emancipating to women?

Umm Yasmin said…
July 1, 2009 11:59 PM

If you’re interested in a more nuanced discussion about veiling, Muslim women and the debate over sources of authority in discussing Muslim women’s veiling, I’ve uploaded a draft of a recent paper here:

Pandy 7:03 pm 01 Jul 09

antstorm you misunderstood.

The women who wear the burka do not have any say in the matter. They live
in fear. As they live in fear in those countries where they are not
allowed to drive or go out of the home on their own. They have no RIGHTS
in those countries. Ban the silly costume and it will force the men who
control the morals, traditions, religion etc to pause and think and
reconsider and hopefully change. Positive discrimination and laws on
banning racial vilification in the public service if not the wider
community HAS had an effect on changing our attitudes. Unfortunately, it
does not seem to have transferred to the new immigrants in this country
what with the racial attacks happening in Melbourne and elsewhere at the

frontandcentre 5:28 pm 01 Jul 09

Um… Even if Virginia is right, how on earth do you legislate this in such a way that it can clearly define the difference between a woman-opressing head covering and an ordinary one. I sometimes tie a scarf around my head to be fabulous like Audrey Hepburn or to keep my hair out of my eyes, would that be illegal too?

Or would we define it in terms of how much face would have to show? In other words no balaclavas, burqas etc which I think the fashion police would absolutely love! What about a niqab and sunglasses?

Perhaps you could define it by intent – did this woman mean to cover her hair or face for religious purposes? To protect herself from men? To indicate her subservience?

I find it fascinating that whereas Muslim women are boldly covering their hair with scarves and are not afraid to be seen to do so, it’s a less well known fact that many Jewish women simply wear wigs to achieve the same result without standing out as “different”. Would muslim women start looking for loopholes to any such law?

In conclusion, the issue needs to be explored and deconstructed into its elements before anyone needs to start proposing new legislation.

Timberwolf65 4:37 pm 01 Jul 09

Jim Jones said :

Timberwolf65 said :

What gets me is these women can walk into a servo and pay for petrol with nothing but their eyes showing and it would be accepted but a motorcyclist has to remove his/her helmet upon entering. What is the difference, bit unfair don’t you think.

When was the last time someone in a burqa robbed a service station?

When was the last time you heard of a motorcyclist robbing a service station.

peterh 2:51 pm 01 Jul 09

looking on the link to the blog, there are several comments about virginia’s calls to ban the burqa. one of the comments makes a lot of sense – I was aghast to find that I actually agreed with passy – his comments are on the same lines of my thoughts on the matter:

“Haussegger has joined Sarkozy in his racist and Islamophobic attempts to divert attention away from the Great Recession as some sections of the French working class show through general strikes their real opposition to the President’s anti-worker and anti-women policies.

To talk, as Haussegger does, about being unAustralian – whatever that is other than a set of ruling class concoctions – is to adopt the language of racism, exclusion and cultural imperialism.

What next? A House Committee for unAustralian Activities?

And who makes a judgment as to what disempowers women? If burqas, why not bikinis?

I might for example think that beautified female TV news presenters are a more subtle and nuanced form of women’s oppression than burqas under capitalism. Should they too be banned?”

well put passy.

rosebud 1:11 pm 01 Jul 09

To paraphrase Facebook: ‘Against the burqa? Then don’t get one and shut the f**k up’.

Postalgeek 12:54 pm 01 Jul 09

Thumper said :

Ms Thumper looks vagely Berber, especially with henna on her hands. The Marrakesh street kids were terrified of her 😉

Seriously though, Virginia has a point, however, how can we be so arrogant as to legislate against another people’s religious beliefs, no matter how abhorrent it may seem to us. That’s apart from the frightening thought of governments legislating against clothing.

I’d rather see a social revolution through education, opportunity and self belief.

Bypassing your comments about Ms Thumper, I’d agree that Virginia makes an perfectly reasonable argument, but that social education and integration over time may be better than outright legislation. I’d make a few short points in addition:

Multiculturalism will invariably lead to conflicting values, and to legislate against religious (and cultural) beliefs may be necessary for the sake of consistency and to protect all citizens; female circumcision being a case in point. Moreover, you’d have a bi-polar legal systems rife with contradiction. Freedom is a subjective concept; taken to an extreme, freedom is anarchy and chaos which many people would not wish for.

The argument has been made that burqas are not explicitly required by the Qaran and are therefore better classified as cultural rather than religious.

If one was to believe that an female Australian citizen should, within reason, be free to dress how she wants, is a woman in a burqa genuinely demonstrating the freedom to dress how she wants? Personally I can’t determine that, and I don’t know how you would draw up legislation to resolve that question.

Skidbladnir 12:52 pm 01 Jul 09

Where does a childless, Western-born, scarily-dogmatic post-feminist, domestic media professional find sufficient common ground with a burqa-wearing Muslim mother-of-four (of unknown racial origin, she was admittedly covered) that she has only seen passingly for a few minutes in a public place (and yet seen fit to pass judgment on her, her husband, and her culture) that she can claim she knows whats best for the Muslim Woman, while assuming that the reasonings behind this specific Muslim woman wearing the burqa are identical to the reasonings behind she met in Afghanistan, without ever even approaching her or going through ‘acceptable channels’ to hear another side of the story?

“I saw a visibly minority woman the other day while I was out shopping, her appearance offended me because I associate it with something that happened somewhere else long ago. Members of this cultural group did something bad once, so therefore all of them must suffer for that sin.
People far away in Europe are doing things which further isolate this minority, so there must be good reasons behind it. This much is self-apparent, since as every ‘good mainstream individual’ knows, it not like anybody in Europe isolated a minority for nationalistic political purposes before.
Even if such a movement was starting to build or gain acceptance over in Europe, (and I’m not saying it is, because comparisons between Things That Happened Then and Things That Happen Now would of course be invalid) we’d never be so blind as to let it actually happen, us message-passing intellectuals are too smart for that…”

rosebud 12:29 pm 01 Jul 09

When I heard VG speaking on 666 the other morning, I just had to laugh out loud. In my first work experience job at the tender age of 14 or 15 in Brisbane waaaay back in the bad ol’ days, I worked in an office of Draughtsmen. And they were all men too. Lines and lines of men scribbling drawings onto paper. My job, among other things, was to push the tea cart around and remember which bloke liked which particular biscuit (Monte carlos for the boss, kingston for the 2IC etc). My dress code then was strictly enforced. A long, pleated, full length skirt from my waist to my ankles and a long sleeved shirt buttoned up – lest I engender feelings in the gentlemen that would distract them from their work. I’m sure if they could have asked me to wear a bag over my head with slits for eyes, they would have too. The receptionist on the otherhand, wore tight mini skirt, pancake make up, and best of all, super long, sharp fingers nails painted the brightest of red. Looking back, I wonder now about the difference. I wasn’t THAT bad looking – no-one is at 15. But back to VH – get off your high horse. Leave our sister Muslims alone. Bad enough that they are discriminated against for being immigrants, women, and often with English as a second language, but now to also have the clothes they wear the target for female Muslim bashers is too much. What next? Will we start tearing wigs off religious Jewish women? Stripping Nuns down to their undies? No-one ever says that men have to dress certain ways to be accepted. Jeez…

martyo 12:17 pm 01 Jul 09

Can I just use this thread to say that Virginia’s “silver-spoon” delivery of the news – makes me not watch the news – ABC anyway. Smug delivery – head-mistress look not working luv!

She’s been doing a course on Social Media – me thinks.

johnboy 12:08 pm 01 Jul 09

So because we have other bad laws you want more Sepi???

sepi 12:07 pm 01 Jul 09

We legislate against plural marriage, a religious belief of the mormons.

If I were convinced that burka wearers were empowered women, wearing it of their own volition, then fine. But I am not comfortable with young women being forced in hiding under the burqa by the men in their lives.

How can you engender self-belief in someone that noone can talk to except their husband?

Thumper 11:00 am 01 Jul 09

Ms Thumper looks vagely Berber, especially with henna on her hands. The Marrakesh street kids were terrified of her 😉

Seriously though, Virginia has a point, however, how can we be so arrogant as to legislate against another people’s religious beliefs, no matter how abhorrent it may seem to us. That’s apart from the frightening thought of governments legislating against clothing.

I’d rather see a social revolution through education, opportunity and self belief.

antstorm 6:46 am 01 Jul 09

Pandy said :

I disagree with the view that the wearing of the costume is
their right. No it is not THEIR right. The dress IS a sign of oppression
in some Muslim societies. It says that the beauty of a woman is only for a
husband to see and if you do not agree we will beat you or worse: think Saudis To live in fear of being beaten by not wearing the costume, is not form of society that
Australians should encourage. Feminism came from positive discrimination.
Religious and cultural freedom can come from banning obvious odious symbols of

yes it IS their right , i cant speak on behalf of Arab or Asian Muslims but as a Turk my family roots are Jewish and Muslim and i bloody well can , the amount of ignorance i have read here is astounding , the main concern for me here on this forum is that of female circumcision, no where in the Koran is this condoned , this tradition is one that is African and also prevalent in some parts of Asia , do this to a female child in Turkey and see how many years you live in prison, if a women decided to wear a bur’qa let her , it is her choice , my sister decided to cover her hair,( we call it e?arp) thats totally her choice , my other sister dress’ like a madonna video clip , thats also her choice , the one good thing about Australia is that it is supposed to be multi cultural , but i tend to see less tolerance of this every day , and i was born here , what i do see is more and more ” Aussie pride ” love it or fuck off facebook pages and bumper stickers , lets address this issue rather than what a women chooses to or no to wear

BTW in the old testament ( Torah ) Christian Muslim and Jewish women covered their hair as a sign of faith
devout Jewish women wear scarves at the synagogue , some wear wigs to cover their hair instead , i still wear my yarmulke, maybe my wearing it offends white supremist nationalists , shall i take it off too ????


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