March 12, 2015

#DressCodePM: Why do feminists like Margaret Atwood defend the "anti-woman" niqab?

Marissa SemkiwArchive

In 2008, a young Muslim woman known as N.S. stepped into an Ontario court to explain why she should not have to remove her niqab veil during testimony.

Her reason for testifying in the first place was to bring to justice two male relatives she alleged sexually assaulted her as a child.

Her fight to wear the niqab eventually made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which upheld a trial judge’s discretion to reject full-facial coverings for the purpose of giving testimony. As a result, N.S. chose not to testify and the Crown withdrew the sexual assault charges due to no reasonable prospect of conviction.

The irony here is that N.S.’s adherence to a very backwards anti-feminist cultural tradition resulted in her choosing to sidestep her rights by dropping her claims of sexual assault and allowing the alleged perpetrators of sexual violence to get off without a trial.

Where were the feminists in Canada then to lobby the government and educate communities on lifting this veil of lies from oppressed women in Canada? Where were they in making sure there wouldn’t be a woman in Canada who was the alleged victim of a sex crime who did not feel comfortable testifying and showing her face in public? Where were they when that mattered?

Today, we’re seeing similar cowardice play out on the part of the modern Western feminist movement.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the niqab “anti-women” in the House of Commons on Tuesday. His comment follows the Conservative government’s appeal of a Federal Court ruling that Muslim women be allowed to wear the face-obscuring veil while taking the oath of citizenship.

This “anti-women” remark gave rise to the hashtag #DressCodePM, started by feminist Globe and Mail columnist, Tabatha Southey. She tweeted: “As long as the niqab remains an issue for him, it behooves all women of Canada to check w/@pmharper each morn as they dress. #dresscodePM”

Even Margaret Atwood, who admonished misogynist theocracy in her book The Handmaid’s Tale, jumped on board by tweeting: “Who’s next? #pmdresscode Turbans? Orthodox #jewish head coverings? #inuit traditional dress? Ladies’ hats in church? Queen’s headscarves?”

Modern Western feminists are thinking through a rigid ideological paradigm that will not allow them to take common sense into account. At the end of the day, the victims of their politically correct mindset are the same people they would claim to be protecting.

For Atwood and Southey, is it that they are so affected by “Harper derangement syndrome” that they are unable to separate his positive actions for their movement from the “hidden agenda” they slandered him with so heavily throughout his political career?

Southey and Atwood’s outrage over this issue is correct, just misplaced. They should be advancing the pro-women policy goals of this Prime Minister.

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commented 2015-10-03 00:14:53 -0400
Atwood is an example of over-rated and under-talented Canadian “elites”. She is like all those silent Muslims who don’t speak out when they are needed. Margaret Deadwood… hmmm…
commented 2015-05-17 20:05:56 -0400
Margaret Atwood?

I thought she was dead and buried

Shows how important she is to this Canadian.

I asked my wife what she thought about Margaret Atwood.

Her response?

“Just another elitist that does not have a clue how the real world works”

I am still not sure how she even got to be known as someone important to Canada – most housewives I know are far more important to Canada than that lady.
commented 2015-04-22 19:40:29 -0400
The veil/Niqab has bee lifted and exposed the true reason of phoney multiculturalism, divide and conquer plane and simple. Oh and what is the "government doing about Christian genocide? Must be an election coming.
commented 2015-04-20 14:10:37 -0400
The niqab is an in-your-face rejection of Canadian values. It makes a mockery of Canadian laws. This is a case where we must refuse to capitulate to the demands of another culture’s customs. Stephen Harper is right — the niqab symbolizes the subjugation of women. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Canada ruling of “trial lawyer discretion” leaves us with no rational guidelines and, thus, will result in conflicting rulings and unequal justice.
commented 2015-04-19 11:17:29 -0400
Margaret Atwood is not an example of an independent thinker. She seems oblivious to her dependence on idealism. Idealism consists of conditioned, erroneous patterns of understanding, such as: romantic primitivism. The belief that life in the distant past was less corrupt and primitive cultures are more noble. I suspect we are conditioned to think this way by early, subconscious memories of floating in amniotic fluid. Romantic primitivism is a common pattern in many myths, the Garden of Eden, and popular cultural works, Avatar and Dances With Wolves.

Independent thinkers control their indulgence in erroneous, conditioned forms of understanding. They achieve freedom by developing and using their empirical and rational faculties. Charles Darwin was a great empiricist and observed the self inflicted misery of primitive cultures he saw during the voyage of the Beagle. I remember his description of an indigenous tribe in Conception that blamed two older women, for recent deadly earthquakes, of being witches. I suspect these women were lesbians and were murdered. Darwin observes incident after incident in primitive cultures that are anything but noble.

Margaret Atwood fails as an independent thinker on two counts. First she indulges in romantic primitivism by romanticizing the right of a primitive culture to have their women wear what they claim to be a symbol of religious piety. Atwood does not use sufficient observation or skepticism to determine if this practice is an example of oppressive indoctrination. Second, Atwood does not examine the epistemology of her reasoning. Atwood seems oblivious to the fact she is indulging in idealism. I am certain Darwin was conscious of his empiricism.
commented 2015-04-19 08:04:00 -0400
These so called feminists can’t see past their hatred for Harper to see what he is doing is standing up for women’s rights and Canadian values. After reading her column, I’ve come to the understanding that she is two faced and can’t be trusted to write an unbiased news report. I feel that women should be allowed to wear what ever they want, nit what they are forced to wear by the men in their lives. But in saying that, religion has no place in government right!? After all we’ve been told this by many of the same people that are now defending this practice. These people have lost any respect they might have had by defending the Muslims of this country with this age old religious ideology. There is no place in this country for such beliefs!
commented 2015-03-16 23:38:20 -0400
David Kitchen, upon further review of your other comments I am forced to conclude that you are clearly depriving some village of their idiot. I simply cannot fathom how or why you ended up on this website in the first place, but you are obviously out of your depth, ignorant, and extremely ill-informed. I apologize if you are offended (how very Canadian, I know), but your comments only reveal the depth of your stupidity. Blaming the so-called 1percent and the Illuminati? Please.
Edward Sawatzky, I think you have the right idea. Besides, the Charter of Rights doesn’t apply to non-Canadians, so why are we even concerned? Give them the choice to either give up the burkha/niqab (I am less concerned with head scarves, as they don’t obscure the face) and truly demonstrate their embrace of Canadian values, or go back to their countries of origin.
As for Margaret Atwood, I am utterly confused by her reaction to Bill 51. I have a hard time reconciling what I formerly admired about her, as the author of one of my favourite poems, Helen of Troy does Table Dancing, with her public expression of support for what are undeniably barbaric, identify-effacing and dehumanizing male-imposed wardrobe requirements on women (burkha, niqab, veil, hijab, etc.) In what I can only describe as pure dramatic irony, her novel The Handmaid’s Tale is strikingly similar to the treatment of women in orthodox Islamic societies today. The only difference is superficial — her fictional novel prophesied a takeover of North American society by fundamentalist Christianity instead of Islam.
Instead, history has not borne that out. Christianity has grown up; it’s had the benefit of the Renaissance, humanism, the Enlightenment, and development of human rights in the 20th century, whereas radical Islam (as opposed to most modern, moderate Muslims) remains static and entrenched in its pre-medieval adolescence.
commented 2015-03-15 18:04:52 -0400
My last post on this topic. Will one of you people please post a photo of Mr. Harper’s wedding the one showing his wife wearing her veil.
commented 2015-03-15 14:47:31 -0400
While some women choose to go against their teachings others do not . I doubt if every Musilm woman is killed because she chooses to go against her teachings. Valerie there is going to be a war against the Middle East countries. The plan is to get the citizens of the Uk, USA and other NATO Countries to hate the people of the middle east and in that ,support the war. The Illuminati is all about control. WAR, OIL and DOPE. U-TUBE. The word and check out THE NEW WORLD ORDER
commented 2015-03-15 14:01:41 -0400
David Kitchen – Christians know what the Bible says and some choose to ignore it and dress as they please. The difference between Christianity and islam is that in Christianity, no one is going to kill you for how you choose to dress.
As for “silence with full submissiveness”, women fought to be freed from those chains and we are NOT going back.
commented 2015-03-15 10:20:44 -0400
The comments are dealing with the clothing worn by Musilm women and the husbands control over them. Well let me remind you that most Canadians profess to be Christians. Timonthy 1 : 9 in the Holy Bible it states : Likewise , the women should adorn themselves in appropriate dress , with modesty and soundness of mind, not with styles of hair braiding and gold or pearls or very expensive clothing.
And again in Timothy 11 Let a women learn in silence with full submissiveness.
And in Ephesians 5: 22 & 23 Let wives be in subjection to their husbands because a husband is head of his wife.
These are what Christians believe . Are they they much different than what Harper and most of you are taking exception to .
commented 2015-03-15 00:29:39 -0400

The niqab in Canada
There is a debate in Canada over the Muslim woman who wants to wear her niqab during the ceremony making her a Canadian citizen. On the one hand the government wants the woman to show her face in the ceremony. The opposition NDP and Liberals are screaming that this would be a violation of the woman’s rights under the Charter of Rights. They say we must respect her religion and culture.
I disagree with both sides. The question should not be whether this woman should be allowed to wear the niqab or not wear it in the ceremony. The question should be whether we should grant the woman Canadian citizenship. The niqab represents everything that clashes with Canadian values. It represents a religion that is determined to destroy us. It represents enslavement of women. These women are literally bought and sold. You want to marry one? You have to buy her like you buy a camel. She can never have any equality in society. She cannot have an education. She cannot drive a car in some Muslim countries. In court her testimony is worth half as much as a man’s testimony. She cannot show her face outside her house. She suffers every form of abuse, beating, divorce, rape, mutilation and murder. She often has to share her husband with three other women. That is what the niqab represents. She will never contribute anything beneficial to Canada. Muslims prove every day that we cannot trust them, especially the ones who cling to their customs. This woman should not be given Canadian citizenship. Wearing her niqab is more important than becoming a Canaddian citizen. Send her back to the hell hole she and her customs came from. That hell hole produces these types and to allow her into Canada gives her the opportunity to pass on her traditions and values to another generation. Is that what we want for Canada?
E. Sawatzky
commented 2015-03-14 16:53:45 -0400
There can only be one explanation as to why any woman would consider it aales right to beat women – there is no answer! Why a Canadian woman would see nothing wrong with the practice? It defies logic to even try and find an answer but thens Atwood is not alone in her opinion; a number of polls taken in the Toronto area clearly show there could be an an answer, one that relies strictly on a fatal misunderstanding of the muslin culture and an unholy belief political correctness is more importamt than a female human beings rights!
commented 2015-03-14 12:00:37 -0400
The only reason Atwood has a voice and a “writing” career is that the Liberals subsidized her for decades; otherwise she would have been relegated to the dustbin of obscurity where she belongs.
commented 2015-03-14 11:47:46 -0400
The IMF lends money to countries that have been almost destroyed by us. We go in and rebuild that country.The money from the IMF pays us for the reconstruction.You stated $8billion paid to the IMF ,this money comes from the taxpayers. It is just another way of the 1% getting richer from taking money from Canadians. Oh they also get paid for the bombs and missils they use up. War is very profitable for those 1%. Several years ago 68% of the American economy was depended upon miltary contracts. As to the other gugk you stated you seem to forget that not so long ago we did not allow women to vote or hold public office They were considered chattles and were under religious orders to obey their husbands , a religious belief don’t forget and still praticed in Canada by some sects.Lest we forget we allow that to continue to go on in Canada. As for criminals covering their face it has already been stated that a man with a full beard and polaroid glasses cannot be reconized and most posts are implying that they should be arrested or transported .
commented 2015-03-14 11:00:52 -0400
David Kitchen, how can you say this is not about political leaders and their posturing? Trudeau and Mulcair and all the Liberal and NDP MPs quoted on this issue are clearly posturing. Trudeau is actually the one engaged in fear-mongering with his divisive comments. At least Mulcair was brave enough to call Trudeau out for equating Harper’s comments to the shameful anti-semitic rejection of Jewish refugees/emigrants to Canada ca. the Second World War. Your comment reads as reactionary, naive and delusional. I suggest you take your own advice and get informed. For one, Canada does not receive money from the IMF, it lends money to the IMF to aid other countries experiencing economic difficulties. Our quota is roughly $8 billion CND, representing the max. of what Canada is expected to be able to lend when called to do so.
Fundamentally, however, this issue is about covering one’s face. Whether male or female, we live in a culture/society that has historically viewed covering one’s face as an attempt to obscure or erase identity, usually connected with criminality in some way. Arabs and Islamic individuals do not share this basic, western connection (recall prevalent 19th century European Orientalist stereotypes evoking the exoticism and “otherness” of face veils, Sheharazad and the Arabian Nights, Edward Said’s critical discourses, etc.) Canadians, and westerners generally I would argue, do not respond positively to covering one’s face as it evokes erasure and obliteration of individuality and identity, and ultimately amounts to de-humanization.
I’ve known Islamic women who rationalized wearing a face veil, or niquab, or full burkha, claiming modesty and respect/adherence to “religious” practice. But the majority of Canadian Muslim women do not wear a face veil and still view themselves as respectful Muslims, which leads me to conclude that it’s not a basic tenet of the Islamic faith. Historical research supports this conclusion.
When the culture blames women for their own rape and sexual assault (for somehow inciting an uncontrollable male lust), rationalizes honour killings and beating women as a form of “education”, and prescribes forced/arranged marriages of young girls to their uncles and first cousins, I imagine it’s much easier to justify draconian wardrobe requirements on women, and indoctrinate them into believing that if they don’t display modesty, subservience and facelessness by covering up, they deserve to be assaulted and raped. Women have virtually no rights in Islamic countries and aren’t viewed as legal subjects in any event, unless they’re being physically/mortally punished for allegedly causing some man to lose his ability to control and be responsible for his own violent actions. Covering women’s faces just makes it that much easier for men to treat them as inhuman and subaltern, thereby feeding into the perverse justification of their legal non-status and cultural/societal/economic repression and subjugation.
Canada has adopted rape shield laws designed to prohibit such attempts at justification. There is a notorious Supreme Court case (Ewanchuk), in which Justice Bertha Wilson rhetorically smacks down a particular male Justice of the Alberta Court of Appeal, who commented that the victim had not presented herself in “a bonnet and crinoline”. That is, in his view, she didn’t dress or behave modestly enough such that she was somehow in part responsible for being sexually assaulted. NOT IN MY CANADA, and for once the SCC and I agree.
Allowing face veils to be worn in public, no matter the reason, flies in the face of Canada’s most fundamental values, and takes our country back 100 years to the land of bonnets and crinoline. What’s next, if I wear a mini-skirt and a Muslim man loses control and rapes me, is he not criminally responsible due to his so-called religious beliefs? Not in my Canada. If I had my way, he’d be castrated.
commented 2015-03-14 10:50:02 -0400
Judy the article is not about breathing clean air if it were then you are dead set against the burning of fossil fuel.So am I but this means prohibiting the use of motor cars in cities.While this is in keeping of a growing number of Canadians how practical is it. It appears that you believe that do as I do or go home.Harper is just looking to justify the reason the air force is in the middle east.or why is he supporting the USA. Terrorist, ISIS,WMD Navy Seals Green Beraes (sic) Knights Templars,No veils and Muslim women got nothing to do with it. War means money for the 1 percent. That is what this all about and that is what Harper is all about. The illumina Judy, U Tube the word and it will change the way you think for ever.
commented 2015-03-14 09:40:31 -0400
In response to David Kitchen’s comment : " it is clear to me from reading the comments on this article that it is hate that rules your life "
…sorry David but…I think you need new glasses and perhaps more… The World Health Organization says “everyone has the right to breathe clean air”…I guess you think women who wear niqabs don’t have a right to breathe clean air? If you really think this it true, then you have a serious indifference to their suffering…so please think your way through this and have a little love for these women in bondage instead of pushing them farther down into their cultural prisons.

Need I repeat that in a niqab you “rebreathe” hot, damp carbon dioxide filled air all day, and have a face that is sweaty all day long, if you wear glasses they fog up all the time…it is not the way God made us to breathe!…you really have not thought this through, David.
commented 2015-03-14 08:30:53 -0400
Please the topic is not about two politic leaders but about covering the face.Ever one on this planet got the ability to love. They also got the ability to hate.The choice is yours.And since God is love it is clear to me from reading the comments on this article that it is hate that rules your life which means that you do not believe in God .Harper needs the backing of the Canadian people to go to war.By creating hate for these people justifies ,for him,the right to kill Muslims and tear apart their country. Canadians will then get an opportunity to rebuild what they bombed. Money coming from Canadians through the IMF.Please get informed because nothing is the way it appears and do not be led by mr. Harper to believing what is not true.
commented 2015-03-13 17:09:47 -0400
Is it correct to call them “Muslim” face coverings? Not all Muslim women cover their faces. This type of covering is surely Saudi or Arab. Does it have anything to do with Islam? Does the Koran tell women to hide their faces?
commented 2015-03-13 15:06:48 -0400
Does Margaret Atwood really know what side she is on? Let’s see: she supported Jian Ghomeshi with his misogynist abuse of women, she professes to believe in God (interview on ‘Context’ TV program and her latest ? book whereby she is now targeting the Christian audience) yet she is a ‘celebrity’ patron for Dying With Dignity, and now she is supporting the submission of women for the purpose of non-Canadian cultural social practices. Atwood has been around for a long time and applauded by Canadians for her writing talents, and she has made a lot of money off us which, I guess in her mind, has given her some kind of elevated position to speak down to the inferior lot that we are. However, recognizing she was one of the 60’s and 70’s feminist libers, it truly demonstrates how long it takes for true, though distorted, beliefs to emerge and be recognized for what they really are.
commented 2015-03-13 14:24:36 -0400
Pro-choice! Pro-choice! My life! My body! Me! Me! Me! We have ushered in the era of the “selfie”! But, then again, this is the year of the sheep, and sheep always follow their master! Good article. Let’s get it out their for all Canada to read.
commented 2015-03-13 13:41:12 -0400
Again we see how political correctness is the Ouroboros, the snake that eats itself. Remember when Greenies harassed the Makah tribe for bringing back traditional whale hunting? Green trumps Aboriginal. Now Islam trumps feminism, even for feminists. Atwood is a laughable moron, but I don’t consider that an excuse. If you’re a moron, educate yourself.
commented 2015-03-13 13:28:36 -0400
On halloween the number one safety tip for children is not to wear a mask because it obscures their vision. Could this not be applied to the wearing of the beekeeper suits employed by Muslim men to belittle and protect their property?
commented 2015-03-13 13:19:41 -0400
I applaud Prime Minister Harper on his stance on Muslim face coverings The covering of faces whether by niquab or full bourkja is both dehumanizing and not sustained by religious diktat.

The story that was widely accepted during my years in Saudi Arabia was that the bourka (a garment that make woman appear as black ghosts) was introduced into Saudi society during the two centuries of Turkish rule. Turkish soldiers would forcibly take women from city streets in order to rape them. The bourka was society’s response in the hope of making women less appealing to the soldiers. Until then, ten centuries of Muslim life passed without face coverings being imposed on women.

At one point during my stay, I happened to enter a store followed by a woman in full bourka attempting to beg. The store owner took offence at this and by employing a switch drove the woman from the store, and appeared quite proud of his success. It was quite apparent at the time that the store owner was able to overcome the Qouran’s instructions regarding charity because the bourka made the woman appear as something less than human and therefore outside of Islamic constraints.

Begging by Saudi Arabian women is quite common. Divorce under Shiria Law can leave the divorced woman without income or funds of any kind, the husband keeps the dowry and all proceeds from it, the woman is ostracized from both society and her own family leaving begging her only option.

Islamic society appears quite tolerant of the results of their divorce laws. Perhaps if the faces were not covered while in public people would be able to see and appreciate the pain and suffering these woman endure and hence respond accordingly.

Bob Pawley
Pentictron BC
commented 2015-03-13 12:55:44 -0400
Excellent article again Marissa.
I think that Atwood, Southey and every woman using the Hashtags to blast PM Harper should walk their talk and show solidarity by wearing a Burqa all day every day until they write and publish an apology to Stephen Harper and all the WOMEN they are sentencing to a life of subservience.
PS Did you coin “Harper Derangement Syndrome”? I think it is unfortunately funny … because it is true. :-)
commented 2015-03-13 12:42:49 -0400
It’s good to read the comments on this website from people who are knowledgeable, unlike Atwood and Southey. I’ve spoken to feminist groups on this issue. They demand equality and freedom for women, but paradoxically support and defend the oppression of women in islam and the wearing of the burka which they claim is “a choice we respect”. I argued that it’s not a choice, that islamic women are oppressed. They said they respect the choice of muslim women to be oppressed. It doesn’t get much more schizophrenic than that!
I’m sure Canadians don’t want to go backwards to a time where women are prevented from fully participating in activities and decision-making but it seems that Atwood and Southey have no problem with that. I wonder if they’d still be supportive of their position if sharia law permanently silenced them.
The good thing about this argument is that most Quebecers want the burka banned which doesn’t bode well for Trudeau in an election: “The decisive move, approved of by 95% of Quebecers (a rare moment of political accord uniting federalists and nationalists) and 75% of all Canadians …”
commented 2015-03-13 12:02:47 -0400
There is no law or Charter Right in Canada that allows you to hide your identity in court or during official proceedings, like taking the Oath.

That is all just a liberal lie.
commented 2015-03-13 12:02:11 -0400
Harper should of said, after she becomes Canadian she can go back to submitting to being subservient.
commented 2015-03-13 10:24:14 -0400
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives express freedoms and rights to all Canadians ,, it does not however extend these rights and freedoms to NON Canadians,, The Charter does not somehow protect you when you travel abroad, nor does it extend to non Canadians while in Canada,, now, over the years we have, on occasion, extended these Canadian rights and freedoms to people that are not Canadians such as the temporary foreign workers who live and work among us but that does not mean it is a guaranteed right of access to those rights and freedoms ,, In the case of this woman that refuses to un-veil for the swearing in as a Canadian citizen , at which point does she become a Canadian citizen with all the Charter rights and freedoms that come with it , is it before or after the swearing in as a Canadian ?