13 August 2016

Enlightenment, Feminism and the Burkini Breaking Point

One thing you can say about the European Right... it's definitely rooted in the Enlightenment. Well, that statement would not be applicable to every version of the European Right and yet it certainly applies to the mayor of Cannes.

The Burkini is deemed immoral. It must be banned.

Toplessness and public nudity are moral because they represent individualist Enlightenment culture.

Though European Right-wing politics are often different than their American counterpart, in this case there seems to be an affinity with the often convoluted reasoning found in the American Right. The proposed policies on both sides of the Atlantic are often little more than rhetoric masking racism.

I guess if the mayor had the bluster of Donald Trump he would make his real purpose clear.

"We don't want you here. Go away."

That's what the policy is all about. I'll backtrack and admit it's possible that it isn't even really about race. Generally speaking the French are much better on this score and have happily embraced other races... as long as they become French. French-ness is not about ethno-tribalism as it is for many Americans.

By the way, I doubt the really serious women, those affiliated with Islamic radicalism go to the beach... even in a burkini.

It could be race, but it's really a culture-clash. The bigotry may be racial but it's really nationalist in origin and sentiment.

Maybe that's why the French and the Americans annoy each other so much. They're so different and yet at times they're ideological cousins, and each bitterly wants to control the narrative of Enlightenment fidelity and heritage.

Both cultures exhibit the tension between the individual and the collective. Europeans have generally believed that without a safety net you cannot have genuine individualism and thus liberty. Everyone will become a slave. The contemporary culture clash has stretched this paradigm to the breaking point.

Americans believe that you have to put individualism first and their neglect of the collective, as well as its growing complexity has generated great inequity which is turning to chaos and social disintegration. The Establishment response is harsh and draconian. Both models have their positives and negatives and both are doomed to fail. At some point the system collapses and has to be re-cast. Both societies are rapidly drawing near to that point.

One faction is united in their response... Feminists. They're rather irritated by this episode and by both cultures in general that dare to tell women what they should or shouldn't wear.

While in one sense they have a point, Feminism as the culmination of democratic and egalitarian rights has probably more than any other force contributed to the demise of society and the destruction of all norms. In its schizophrenia the Feminist simultaneously defends and hates both the burkini and the bikini. Likewise it praises motherhood and denigrates it.

Maybe it can be argued that there's no such thing as Enlightenment Conservativism? To be a true Western Conservative one must reject the Enlightenment? Some believe this. That would certainly destroy not only democracy and individual rights but the entirety of modern economics.

While I heartily reject the old Throne and Altar Conservatism of a now extinct brand of Tory and some Opus Dei-type Roman Catholics... on a human level I see their point.

It is Evangelical Protestantism and its Enlightenment legacy that has a real problem which its narratives and categories cannot resolve.

Rushdoony, North and Bahnsen's Theonomy tried to create a synthesis between Conservative Protestant theology and a historical revision of American Republican and Classical Liberal narratives... but ultimately failed. It would seem at this point a good number of its descendants have turned even further toward the Enlightenment and have embraced modified forms of the Libertarian narrative... all 'Biblical' of course.

Personally I avoid the beach because most women are a little too undressed. Our culture is so strange. If you walk down the street or into a store in your underwear, you're obscene and would probably be confronted. But if you wear 'swim-wear' that often is even more revealing than your underwear...certainly in the case of women... then you're fine.

If the ethics of clothing is based on context then it's pretty hard to make a case for its objective morality. If conservatives want an objective standard then it has to be based on questions regarding modesty and femininity. Either way, the modern perspective certainly loses. Even from the perspective of 'empowered' feminism that declares 'flaunt and manipulate' as it were, the truth is the female ends up being objectified and the terms of manipulation are still determined by the tastes of men.



  1. To be perfectly honest, I have never been bothered by women who wear either burqas or hijabs. I really don't understand the controversy surrounding it, especially if these women not only choose to wear them but defend their choice to do so.

    What's ironic is that up until about forty-fifty years ago, women wearing a head covering of some sort was a common sight in the West, especially in central and Eastern Europe. It was simply a part of the culture and nobody thought twice about it.

    The only scenario in which this issue becomes even remotely problematic is if the woman is being forced to dress a certain way by either her husband or family within the context of some form of violence against her person. Even then, the issue isn't the hijab or burqa itself but the underlying abuse, which ironically often goes completely unaddressed.

  2. Amen and amen.

    There's always that balance. We as men need to guard our evil hearts and as we all know we can think bad thoughts about modestly dressed women. But at the same time it's grown a lot worse for young men and women's bodies etc...

    I remember in junior high it was pretty exciting to see a girl's bra strap. Today nothing is left to the imagination. Of course the irony is... there was more mystique, wonder and even attraction the way it used to be.

    The whole approach of making women wear potato sacks because of male lust hardly seems just. We need to keep our eyes and hearts right.

    And yet, no doubt living in a culture with less exposed flesh would be a blessing.

    Interesting though how in Muslim cultures the young men get so frustrated and when given the opportunity assault women (I'm thinking some of the well known incidents in Egypt) or when in a Western context, especially among impoverished whites some of them have turned very wicked (I'm thinking about the big scandal in the UK).

    There's problems all around but to attack women for dressing modestly... pretty sad.

    Eastern Europe has lost some of the head scarves but skirts are still the norm. No tight jeans, if you're a nice girl. I was watching a recent report about the Ukrainian pilot who's being turned into Joan of Arc... he whole person and demeanour just play into the Russian narrative about the decadent West. She's an immodest woman. The Russians just wag their heads.... yep, that's what you get.... Sodom and Gomorrah. They have a point.