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Bin Bag Ban Unbanned.

WHEN THE NEWS that a college in Birmingham had in place a ban on burqas and niqabs (not to mention hoodies) it was only a matter of time before the obligatory protests were drummed up against it, followed by the obligatory cave-in.

It was also obligatory for someone in the PC media to justify the wearing of veils. One such is Victoria Coren (or Victoria Coren Mitchell, as she called herself last weekend in The Guardian). Here you can hear the liberal mind torturing its own principles to avoid giving offence. In Coren Mitchell’s case she explains her “epiphany” by drawing a parallel between her decision to append her husband’s name to her own, as an act of half-hearted feminism, and the decision of Muslim women to wear face coverings. Apparently (If I’m following her logic) the latter are to be applauded because their choice is made more decisively than hers (“a strong and happy choice”, apparently).

At least I think that’s what she’s getting at. It would have been simpler if she’d just come out, as Dan Hodges has done, and said, this is Britain and you can wear what you want; end of story. But she hasn’t, and her discomfort is our pleasure.

One problem is that her epiphany is based on a flimsy equivalence. Changing her name or keeping it the same is not going to affect other people and their perception of her as much as wearing a face covering will, is it?

It’s something to do with this patriarchy1 thing. Feeling slightly guilty about changing your name when you get married is not oppression; wearing a full face covering, even when done by choice, is — because it’s acquiescing in a culture and religion that demand the subjection of women and their relegation to the status of second class human beings. Equality figures in it as much as a pork chop.

And there are other problems — I thought feminists were all for equality. Isn’t that what they’ve been going on about for the last 50 years? Or does freedom of choice now trump equality? What happened to all that stuff about “the male gaze” and the “objectifying” of women in a male-dominated society? Has all that gone out the window? Don’t the niqab and burqa objectify and dehumanise women more completely than the pics in lad mags the same feminists are constantly complaining about? Or is the patriarchy only bad when it applies to us infidels?

Call me a reactionary old cynic, but I think there’s a simpler reason Victoria Coren Mitchell can’t come out against face-coverings. It’s because she doesn’t want to be called a racist — which is exactly what would happen to her if she did; and being considered a racist is the ultimate sin for someone like her.

Any amount of casuistry is acceptable to avoid that fate.

Michael Blackburn.


  1. “Patriarchy”: a feminist construct.

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