April the 4th was declared International Topless Jihad day. Women across Europe rallied against oppressive Arab rule over women in front of Mosques to express solidarity with Tyler. In March, Amina, a Tunisian student, took it upon herself to take off her top, scrawl slogans like “Fuck Your Morals” and “My Body Belongs to Me” and subsequently publish them on the Facebook home of Femen, the Ukrainian Women’s Protest group. She was as expected, ensuingly arrested and imprisoned, with some prominent clerics calling for her to be stoned (the OUCH THAT FUCKING HURTS as opposed to the MAN I’M SO WASTED kind).
I’ve always been one to support equality between the sexes, but this topless campaign confuses me profoundly. As far as I am concerned, every woman has the right to use her body as she pleases and if this involves standing naked in Paris and being kicked by neanderthal onlookers, then so be it. What I can’t understand, is the point.
For years, in the UK anyway, there has been a persisting theme of gender inequality regardless of where one chooses to look. There is a stark separation between the sexes in terms of pay at executive levels, a resolute under-representation of women in parliament and an abiding lack of female political representation. Austerity cuts have hit women harder in proportion (being employed in a greater percentage of public services) and this will only be exacerbated in the years to come. Under George Osbourne’s austerity package, humans with a vagina will be penalised by contributing almost three times as much in terms of taxation and will feel the pinch severest in terms of welfare allowances. Our magazines continue to objectify women and our televisions insist on only allowing women resembling 20 year old skeletons to grace our screens. Pick up your nearest celebrity magazine and watch women tear each other apart apart in the name of being, well, nothing else but an absolute bitch.
For all intents and purposes – we have some way to go. Quite why western women are so outraged on behalf of their Arab sisters, is quite beyond me. There are of course profound inequalities in Islam and I have no doubt many women are subjugated in this way. However the western portrayal of women in Islam is considerably distorted and for every woman who is made to act and conduct herself in one way, there are many who choose this lifestyle themselves. Islam is by no means a perfect religion but it is all in the interpretation. I myself, find great dis-agreement with the Burqa/Niqaab and cannot understand its use or purpose, but it is only the front of what we can see. It is like looking at a shop and complaining about how dirty the windows are. What you’re really interested in, is the treatment of the staff and the conduct of their employers. Cleaning the window, won’t change that.
Finally on the topic of boobs. Why do women insist upon this? That isn’t liberating is it? Is it? When the protest is over, you put your top back on right? You sit on the tube, with your coat and scarf and go home to some piss poor apartment and lounge around in a filthy hoodie that you really should have washed a few days ago but instead you did a white wash and so it’ll have to wait till the next batch and you can do your jeans, just like everyone else, correct? Is this anything more than crude sensation? If women are serious about a cause and want to see some progression for their sisters worldwide, I would suggest keeping their tops on (God, it’s even difficult to write that down). Why not go to one of these countries, open a school to educate dis-illusioned women, lobby parliament, petition, speak to local muslim communities and sit down with their local clerics and leaders. Is that so difficult? We could just talk? If ladies really want to take their tops off, save it for your boyfriend. He hasn’t had any in a while.