A Moroccan-born Muslim woman, married to a French man, living in the east of Paris, with three French children, lost her appeal for citizenship on the grounds that she has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes. And, I mean, she does wear a burqa, and the balance of gender roles in her home sounds like it’s fucked-up. But if France is going to start declaring that it’s unFrench to act in opposition to the principle of equality of the sexes, there are an awful lot of citizenships they’ll need to revoke.
You could start with pretty much every major political figure who endorsed Nicolas Sarkozy over Segolene Royal in 2007 because she was too inexperienced, despite having almost the exact same resume– three ministerial posts, having served as a deputy to the National Assembly, and a former head of a regional government. That includes members of her own party who endorsed the male candidate over her. It’d definitely include the fellow Socialist senator who chose to endorse a right-wing dude because, while Royale may be pretty, the presidential election is not a beauty contest. And there’s no question that you’d have to deport the UMP minister who explained that her best chance of winning would come if her looks could help hide the fact that she’s a bitch.
You might have to start plucking random French citizens and inquiring why only 18% of the parliament is made up of women– behind such noted stalwarts of the principle of equality of the sexes as the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. You could inquire as to why 60% of the unemployed in France are women, and 75% of part-time workers. Why, there are all sorts of things that might need to be cleared up if upholding the principle of equality of the sexes is now one of the major determinants in defining Frenchness.
Over and over again, people assert that they haven’t got a problem with Muslims at all, no, that’s not it- it’s just that they’re so unenlightened toward women! It’s a classic attempt to do some rhetorical judo- instead of saying we just don’t want those people here and looking like bigots, instead they get to play the grand feminists. And if they’re so concerned about women’s rights that they’ll, you know, deny them citizenship for wearing a burqa, then surely we can forgive them if they haven’t quite overcome the whole problem with equal pay, dismissing female politicians as unserious, keeping them at under 20% of business executives (or should it be "exec-cute-ives"?), dropping those power words like bitch whenever threatened, and so on… At least they’re paying lip service to invented obstacles toward an equal society, after all.
And I don’t mean to pick on the French. I like them! But you’ll see this attitude throughout the Western world. You’ll see it in new London mayor Boris Johnson, decrying the way women are treated in Afghanistan on one hand, while his chief of staff defends the fact that he fired the five top-ranked women in city hall on the grounds that women just aren’t as qualified. You’ll see it in every American preacher who weeps for women’s rights in the Muslim world but thinks that their American counterparts are baby factories. And if it bums you out and you’re hoping to find a place to get away from it, don’t count on the pony rides and free health care of France as a safe haven.
(cross-posted to dansolomon.com)