Reasonable Accommodations Debate, Part II

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Reasonable Accommodations Debate, Part II
VanGoghs Ear

my only comment on this is

- as someone who required a speech and language therapist from kindergarden to grade 5 - the teacher very much needed to see the mouth of the student -to see the position of the tongue and teeth and shape of the mouth when trying to make certain sounds required to speak - english in my case - and be understood.

 

remind remind's picture

catchfire wrote:
Ahmed has made an effort to integrate herself in Quebec society

She has? How do you know this, do you have evidence?

unionist wrote:
Almost everything? What about the right of (say) Christian Scientists to set up their own parallel health care system, on sincerely held religious grounds - offering covered services but not within the single-payer system? Or the right of parents to opt their kids out of evolution classes? Or sex ed?

Yes, I concur unionist, once you start compartementalizing peoples, and accommodating "small groups", then everyone has a potential to be small grouping of their own asking for special dispensation.

 

unionist wrote:
She is under no obligation to attend this particular program.

 

Exactly.....

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

The teacher needed to see.  That is the point.  No one else needs to see her face to accomplish the task.  I don't get the existence of a right to see other persons features.  if you want to go down this slope the minister has put us on then why stop at the face. Just so you know I am not going to argue the straw woman hypotheticals Unionist I just want to talk about this case.  There were no other student needs to be balanced only a desire to put her in her place. No student even needed to be inconvenienced but the state says she must show herself to the world because that is Quebec "tradition."   So why just the face?  What about her arms and shoulders?  If she was truly liberated in the Western sense she would be glad to flash her tits too.  But I guess the state should stop at requiring arms and shoulders to prove she is not under the sway of patriarchs.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I'm sorry if my tone sounded provocative, U. I didn't think I was any more pitched than the general tone throughout the previous thread. This discussion, while indeed dynamic and interesting, is touching on some fundamental principles, and I am very upset--as a former resident of Quebec and consistent defender of Quebec's right to self-determination--at this recent ruling.I'll try to take a step back.

Unionist wrote:
Immigrants - like those born here - must toe the line in many many areas, "or else" they'll end up in deep trouble. That includes not driving while impaired; paying your taxes; not receiving stolen goods; not forging a passport; and not appearing naked when subpoenaed in court. In short, ALL RESIDENTS - not "immigrants" - must toe the line or else - and there is no justification to distinguish rights and freedoms as between immigrants and non-immigrants in any area whatsoever (with the obvious exception of indigenous people).

What is curious about your response is that I posed a question of cultural acceptance and expectations and you countered with legal precepts. Wearing a niqab is not illegal--unless you are suggesting it should be? As much as I am concerned with why stories like these incite such a furious media firestorm, I am also, as always, concerned with praxis: here we have an immigrant trying to take part in a Quebec institution, to learn French up to the national standard, and she has instead been given a social ultimatum: of the kind that would never--mark my words, never--be instituted by a government minister if it were any other kind of sartorial expression. If she wore a t-shirt that said "F*ck all Jews" she might well be expelled from class--by the teacher, not by the government. But because she is wearing a conspicuous manifestation of Islamic faith, we have a government official stepping in and ensuring that she cannot learn French at a gov't-funded institution. Short of deporting her, I don't see how this policy encourages anything else but insularity, resentment of dominant culture and state-sanctioned humiliation. Whatever threat she represents to Quebec society--and I don't believe she is any--she is still, at the bottom, a human being.

 

VanGoghs Ear

I think Catchfire,  the government became involved after she threatened a human rights complaint.  I could be mistaken

skdadl

Since Unionist's question to me has been imported from the last thread, I'll answer. Unionist wrote:

 

Quote:
Almost everything? What about the right of (say) Christian Scientists to set up their own parallel health care system, on sincerely held religious grounds - offering covered services but not within the single-payer system? Or the right of parents to opt their kids out of evolution classes? Or sex ed?

 

I was writing about section 2 of the Charter, most specifically about conscience, and you are tossing in the kitchen sink?

 

These are very easily answered questions and they have been answered in law in Canada for a long time. We have a public education system; we have a public health system; we have (mostly) public roads ... et cetera. All citizens must contribute to those public systems through their taxes, punkt.

 

Christian Scientists, if adult, are not required to submit to our medical care. Actually, no adult is required to submit to our medical care, although if you happen to be unconscious when you arrive in emerg, they will do what they can do. So if Christian Scientists want to set up their own centres to treat themselves, that's cool with me as long as 1) they pay for them themselves; and 2) they pay their taxes.

 

The physical safety of a child, however, is an extreme case. I believe that the state has a right to step in on medical grounds or when a child may be being abused or mutilated.

 

Opting out of evolution classes or sex ed classes is fuzzier. I don't know for sure, but I don't think that the Amish, eg, care whether their kids get Ontario government diplomas at the end of high school. That seemed to be your claim on the last thread, that no province would give a diploma to a student who hadn't had evolution classes or sex ed. Really? As I understand the system, it isn't the curriculum that gets tested at the end of high school -- it's the student. Maybe not having studied evolution would compromise a high school student at exam time -- I doubt it, but maybe. Sex ed? lol. Unionist, I'm a high school grad and I have two and three-quarters university degrees -- what?  -- you're going to take my diplomas away from me because I never had sex ed? I shall never stop laughing.

Unionist

Catchfire, the reason I mentioned "immigrants" is because you referred to:

Catchfire wrote:
... your position that expects immigrants to toe the line or else?

[emphasis added]

I merely tried to correct your misconstrual of my comments. I had never - once - mentioned immigrants, and so I forcefully pointed out to you that EVERYONE, immigrant or not, has to toe the same line (except FN) within Québec society - and that any rule or statute that purported to set different rights and duties for immigrants and non-immigrants should be vigorously resisted.

Quote:
If she wore a t-shirt that said "F*ck all Jews" she might well be expelled from class--by the teacher, not by the government.

I guess I'll have to take your word for that.

Quote:
But because she is wearing a conspicuous manifestation of Islamic faith, we have a government official stepping in and ensuring that she cannot learn French at a gov't-funded institution.

So if I'm understanding you correctly, a male student showing up in a balaclava would not be excluded on the same basis?

If you are determined that this event should be evidence of official Islamophobia, then it could well become that. That's what happened when a handful of (in themselves) utterly irrelevant incidents were magnified by Mario Dumont and the slavish MSM into a crisis of epic national proportions - just as quickly to fade away down the memory hole, along with the neo-fascist ADQ. I guess it's time to prove, once again, that Québec is not Hérouxville. What a waste of energy, and how much damage will be done in the meantime.

remind remind's picture

Catchfire, am not sure what you do not get about her going to a publically funded educational facility, and wanting special consideration. If she wants special consideration, then she should be going to her own private institution that she pays for, as unionist clearly pointed out in the last thread.

 

 

 

remind remind's picture

unionist wrote:
a male student showing up in a balaclava would not be excluded on the same basis?

 

Exactly but having said that, the mouth shows with a balaclava, so perhaps there would not be an issue?

Caissa

Special consideration is given in publicly funded educational facilities all the time. The debate here seems to be whether a special consideration is being asked for, and if it is, whether or not it should be granted.

Unionist

skdadl wrote:

Christian Scientists, if adult, are not required to submit to our medical care.

Why do I have to start every paragraph with "you didn't get my point". I'm not talking about the unquestioned right of individuals not to patronize the health care system and to refuse any and all treatment. My point is this: No one in Canada is allowed to provide certain defined "medically necessary" services without complying with the strictures of the Canada Health Act and the respective provincial legislation. I'm talking about those who remove tonsils - not the right of patients to keep their tonsils.

Quote:
That seemed to be your claim on the last thread, that no province would give a diploma to a student who hadn't had evolution classes or sex ed.

This is a bit frustrating. Sorry for the tone, but why don't you simply read what I said? In a post addressed to you, I very specifically said that this applies to Québec and not Ontario, and I cited the sources:

Unionist in the last thread wrote:
For those who may have missed how our dictatorship works in Québec, here is a story that makes some people (me) proud and others nervous:

Teach sex and evolution or close, Quebec evangelical schools told

In Ontario, however:

Quote:

In Ontario, things are different. Schools are not required to teach either evolution or sex education, said Elaine Hopkins, executive director of the 900-member Ontario Federation of Independent Schools, which has 120,000 children attending schools with a few as 10 students, and as many as 1,000.

Many parents send their children to independent schools because they object to the teaching of these subjects in the public schools, she said. "These are issues that should be decided by the parents, not the province."

At the elementary level in Ontario, there are no curriculum requirements for independent schools, although Ms. Hopkins points out that the education is market-driven.

So, Ontario's "freedom" is freedom of the marketplace.

No thank you.

skdadl wrote:
Really? As I understand the system, it isn't the curriculum that gets tested at the end of high school -- it's the student. Maybe not having studied evolution would compromise a high school student at exam time -- I doubt it, but maybe. Sex ed? lol. Unionist, I'm a high school grad and I have two and three-quarters university degrees -- what?  -- you're going to take my diplomas away from me because I never had sex ed? I shall never stop laughing.

I wouldn't touch your diplomas, skdadl, and I'm not seeking to apply Québec's laws retroactively. Anyway, I've made my point several times in the last thread about schools here having to include the provincial syllabus or be figuratively padlocked - you can go back and read that. If you think that the content of education should be left in the hands of parents (god forbid) and individual children, then perhaps we can dispense with society. I am not your brand of civil libertarian.

skdadl

Unionist, you quote selectively from me, and then you claim that I didn't read you, when it is pretty obvious to me that you didn't read me (and you are seducing other readers into not reading the rest of my paragraph). I think you just plain don't like complex argument, at least not on this topic, or maybe not from me.

 

That's why I am leaving this conversation. This has become childish and absurd. "Are too!" "Am not!" I mean, that's about the level we're at.

 

And you wonder why a lot of women decide not to pipe up on this board?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Unionist, I am baffled by your opinion that this has nothing to do with Islam. You are pulling exaggerating tactics that are beneath you. I in no way accused Quebec as Islamophobic, but I do think that Islamophoboia--a phenomenon that plagues the West--is present in this instance. And as far as I can tell, you are the only one who believes that Islam is a non-factor in this discussion. Use your illusion, I guess.

VanGoghs Ear

I don't think this is islamophobia - if she was wearing a veil, she would still be muslim and none of this would have happened.  The clothing article hindered the ability of the teacher to teach the student. 

VanGoghs Ear

"The school had demanded that Amed take off her niqab veil, which covers her head and face and leaves only her eyes exposed, for part of the class."

 
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/03/09/mtl-niqab-quebec-intervenes-again.html#ixzz0hoMcf5pl

Maybe this teacher didn't believe they could properly teach someone to speak the french language without seeing their mouth.
I'm not talking about the government involvement but just the classroom issue which started this.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

But if it is only about the teaching outcome it is clear she is only making it more difficult for herself to learn and why is that anyone else's business?

If I choose to take a night school course and sit at the back and barely pay attention does it matter if I am wearing a veil?  Should I be thrown out for flunking or for wearing a veil?  I am not sure but is anyone actually arguing that veils should be banned in public spaces in Canada?  

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I don't see it as possible to view this problem without an eye on the West's general obsession with the veil, Canada's wars of imperial agression in the Middle East in which we are complicit, France's segregration of Arabs and Muslims, and our rich multi-century history of colonialism, exploitation and conquest.

If a man had worn a balaclava to class and had been ordered to remove it on threat of expulsion, we never would have heard about it.

Unionist

skdadl wrote:

Unionist, you quote selectively from me, and then you claim that I didn't read you, when it is pretty obvious to me that you didn't read me (and you are seducing other readers into not reading the rest of my paragraph). I think you just plain don't like complex argument, at least not on this topic, or maybe not from me.

 

That's why I am leaving this conversation. This has become childish and absurd. "Are too!" "Am not!" I mean, that's about the level we're at.

 

And you wonder why a lot of women decide not to pipe up on this board?

Sorry you feel this way, skdadl. I feel strongly on the issues I've raised:

- no multi-tier education for children; (this does not mean no private schools, for the nth time)

- no multi-tier health care; (this does not mean no right to decline treatment, for the nth time)

- and most important - no one's religious beliefs or practices will in any way call into question equality of women and men (this does not mean trying to rescue women from their own beliefs and culture).

You don't agree with me on some of these points, and I don't need you to. But I think I understand why you and others feel strongly about a threat to ban certain dress practices and beliefs, and under almost all circumstances I share that concern. All I ask is that you understand my point of view.

If there are complexities in your argument I've missed or ignored, please point them out to me. I'm not a genius. If I quoted you selectively, it was meant to clarify or correct specific places where I thought you misunderstood my argument. It was not meant to truncate or distort your discourse.

No, I don't wonder why a lot of women decide not to pipe up on this board. But if that's because of me, what would you like me to do? Leave? Nod my head in silence when people say that covering one's face is an individual choice that has nothing to do with subordination and objectification and ownership of women? I'll leave if you can suggest another forum where I can express these opinions without making people feel bad. Or when I'm kicked off this board.

Meanwhile, I have sincerely - from the heart - welcomed you from the moment you re-entered some discussions here. If you're withdrawing from this discussion because of me, I guess you're old enough to make your own choices in life. I don't like it, but you haven't given me much indication as to what I should do about it. I suppose agreeing with you on this issue is one option, but I'm not there yet.

milo204

we need to start being honest.  we know this has nothing to do with seeing her mouth being necessary to learn french.  She was removed from a second class, that she was in for over 40 days, and the teacher made no such demands that her mouth be visible.  regardless, the minister gave her the ultimatum "your religion or your integration into quebec society" she chose religion, obviously.  

 

so the argument that this hinges on her mouth being visible, or imposing anything on her teacher or fellow students is totally invalid.

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:

I don't see it as possible to view this problem without an eye on the West's general obsession with the veil, Canada's wars of imperial agression in the Middle East in which we are complicit, France's segregration of Arabs and Muslims, and our rich multi-century history of colonialism, exploitation and conquest.

I wholeheartedly agree with you. But that's not about Islam. It's about colonialism and imperialism - and Islamophobia and other kinds of xenophobia have been dragooned into their service in the last few years for reasons that we well know. I suppose you could ignore all my posts about every single instance of Islamophobia and other forms of racism discussed on this board for the past few years, and conclude that I don't make that connection.

For my part, I don't see how anyone could view this problem without an eye to the ugly abyss of misogyny and subjugation of women that suffused Québec society until the Quiet Revolution - and for a long time after. Women as baby-making machines. Women who couldn't participate in politics. Who couldn't serve on juries. Who were excluded from the workforce. Who lived under the dictatorship of the priests and nuns. Who couldn't enter a tavern, with or without a man in tow.

The reality and the symbols of gender equality, in such a society emerging from such darkness, are indispensable. If someone walks into a classroom and makes requirements that distinguish between men and women - in order to accommodate her beliefs - the answer must be no. Maybe somewhere else such demands are less threatening, less offensive. Maybe somewhere else, people believe (rightly or wrongly) that the emancipation of women has been achieved and is secure. That's not the case here. And I'm going to have to repeat, for the nth time, that I am not talking about the forced "emancipation" of some individual who, I have no doubt, freely chooses to cover her face. I'm talking about everyone else.

remind remind's picture

reports out last  week indicated Canada ranks 50th in the world on the status of women equity issues, indeed we are behind the United Arab Emmerates even.

 

 

 

 

skdadl

Unionist:

 

Quote:
no one's religious beliefs or practices will in any way call into question equality of women and men (this does not mean trying to rescue women from their own beliefs and culture).

 

You realize that that sentence, taken as a whole, is self-contradictory? And further, and worse: you actually dare to insist that no one's beliefs may "in any way" call into question the equality of men and women? You can do that, but I will fight you if you try to make that public policy of any kind.

 

I don't know why you think this is so particularly a Quebec story. I am a Canadian woman against whom it was legal to discriminate openly in terms of how I was paid, eg (and that's just one way) until I was into my forties. That means that every man my age will always have a bigger CPP than I will; you will have a bigger CPP than I will -- doesn't matter how hard I worked, how long, how well -- that discrimination follows women my age all the way through our lives.

 

You think that only women in Quebec faced misogyny and subjugation? Well into my adult life, it was legal for men to have their daughters arrested and imprisoned for "immoral" behaviour -- I'll find the best-know babble reference tomorrow. No, that didn't happen to me, but it is the society I was raised in, and you cannot possibly know what it is like to grow up and spend your young adulthood the way that I did, required to support myself on the one hand and yet treated in many ways as a second-class citizen on the other.

 

I am an impoverished widow who gave up her career to live for six years as a caregiver to my dying husband, who for that and other reasons will never live as well as you do, and you dare to lecture me on misogyny? 

 

You didn't write the book on feminism, Unionist. And women are definitely capable of understanding and defending civil liberties in less operatic and particularist ways than you choose.

 

 

lagatta

How do you know how well unionist is living, skdadl? There are other parts of your statement I'd only address in PMs.

The problem is people from ROC weighing in on an issue in Québec society and then accusing us - I mean Québec progressives - of being some kind of discriminatory rump. It is an odd "anti-imperialist" stance that is also very colonialist against our nation, however that is defined (and for progressives the definition is not ethnic, but flows from the history of our struggles).

Fighting the fucking Church was a major part of the so-called Quiet Revolution and the building of modern Québec.

I am very much involved in feminist and other social struggles, and with some nuances I agree with unionist.

skdadl

lagatta, I just said that I don't think this is a story particular to Quebec. Then you rush on stage and claim that I said it had something to do with Quebec's being "a discriminatory rump." That foul language would never have occurred to me; I challenge you to show me where I used it; I would never have used it, since I don't think it.

 

I don't care where this story is happening in Canada. I just want to see it resolved justly.

lagatta

The last sentence shows an odd misunderstanding of the national question for someone of your or my political background, or that of the founder of this board.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I don't get it?  I'd question this no matter where it happened in Canada.  How does this become about Quebec.  It's about reasonable accomodation that is being denied.  I'm puzzled by the defence especially in light of the new story.

j.m.

Unionist wrote:

The reality and the symbols of gender equality, in such a society emerging from such darkness, are indispensable. If someone walks into a classroom and makes requirements that distinguish between men and women - in order to accommodate her beliefs - the answer must be no. Maybe somewhere else such demands are less threatening, less offensive. Maybe somewhere else, people believe (rightly or wrongly) that the emancipation of women has been achieved and is secure. That's not the case here. And I'm going to have to repeat, for the nth time, that I am not talking about the forced "emancipation" of some individual who, I have no doubt, freely chooses to cover her face. I'm talking about everyone else.

Is this really a fair comparison?

Unionist

Perhaps.

j.m.

She's not an institution like the Catholic Church, you know. She's a human being.

Unionist

Thanks for that information. I think I'll take a break now. Good night.

 

remind remind's picture

Quote:
If someone walks into a classroom and makes requirements that distinguish between men and women - in order to accommodate her beliefs - the answer must be no.

 

Would ask people to really think about this.....and the truth of it!

skdadl

Unionist wrote:

 

Quote:
If someone walks into a classroom and makes requirements that distinguish between men and women - in order to accommodate her beliefs - the answer must be no.

 

Let's translate that into babble practice: If a woman starts a thread in the feminism forum and sets requirements that distinguish between men and women -- in order to accommodate her beliefs -- the answer will usually be ... hell, yes!

 

And we don't do that because

 

Quote:
people believe (rightly or wrongly) that the emancipation of women has been achieved and is secure

 

but for precisely the opposite reason.

Slumberjack

To many people the sight of a Roman Catholic priest's collar is a symbol of oppression. To my knowledge they've never been asked to leave public areas if they offend people, and they've never been asked to remove the offending garb if they wish to stay. When we have no consistency to rely on for precedence, where some superstitions and behaviours are welcomed and others are shunned, it becomes difficult to avoid the hypocrisy entirely.

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:

To many people the sight of a Roman Catholic priest's collar is a symbol of oppression. To my knowledge they've never been asked to leave public areas if they offend people, and they've never been asked to remove the offending garb if they wish to stay.

SJ, I've requested from the start that we wait to hear all the facts. But now you've offered up a new one - that this woman was asked to leave because her covered face "offended people"? Haven't seen that claim expressed by anyone, either in the media reports nor these two threads.

If your Roman Catholic priest entered the classroom and said: "I would just like to mention that, for religious reasons, there should be a distance of at least two desks between me and any Jew, Protestant, Muslim, or atheist - unless they're women, in which case no problem" - would you say: "Well, that does no one any harm, so of course we'll accommodate your deeply held religious beliefs! Have a seat!"

 

milo204

again, whether we think wearing the niqab is right or wrong, it has nothing to do with this debate.  this is only about the freedom of someone to CHOOSE to wear one without being shunned by the state and all it's many institutions.  The idea that a self professed "multi-cultural" (note the world "cultural") country can so blatantly restrict her freedom to practice her culture is insane.

 

This is like standing up for free speech when you agree with it, but becoming ominously silent when you don't.

Unionist

"Freedom to practice her culture"? What kind of freedom is that? "Multi-cultural"?? Choose what to wear?

When such "freedoms" (which are absent from our laws and charter - never even heard of anyone proposing they be added) conflict with the struggle for the emancipation of women, I thing the choice for progressives is straightforward. Less so for "libertarians".

And this is not like standing up for free speech when you agree with it. It's like someone coming into your classroom and saying, "I just need one minute per day - no more - to speak about the proper role of women and the importance of not being seen by men". The answer is no.

 

milo204


"Freedom to practice her culture"? What kind of freedom is that?"

a very important one, seems you think it's a bad idea? looks me to be the underpinning for the charter of rights and freedoms.  if you put these things together (freedom of conscience, thought, religion, belief, expression and assembly etc.)  they basically say you can believe what you want to-and express it-doesn't that extend to the people we supposedly welcome from around the world as immigrants/refugees?

"When such "freedoms" (which are absent from our laws and charter - never even heard of anyone proposing they be added) conflict with the struggle for the emancipation of women, I thing the choice for progressives is straightforward. Less so for "libertarians"."

There are many things to do in this struggle, victimizing an innocent woman isn't one of them.  Take a look at the facts, she was kicked out of these two classes because of her dress, none of the officials that made the call ever said they were trying to stand up for her rights as a woman.   And while i might agree that niqab's or burka's from my view are obviously oppressive to women, especially when the state FORCES you to wear one, i still would uphold someone's right to wear one if they insisted on it in canada where there are no such laws, as this woman did.  She wasn't disturbing anyone else or imposing anything on anyone.  she obviously felt violated being asked to "choose between integrating into quebec society or wearing the niqab" so what's the big deal?  so we don't get to impose our "pedagogical requirement" that you have perfect french.  it just seems totally ridiculous to me.  

"And this is not like standing up for free speech when you agree with it. It's like someone coming into your classroom and saying, "I just need one minute per day - no more - to speak about the proper role of women and the importance of not being seen by men". The answer is no."

so simply by being present in a class she was trying to indoctrinate them?  this seems like the same logic that argues we should ban Israeli Apartheid Week, or that tax breaks shouldn't happen on TV shows with gay characters.  While we should have every right to express why we think a niqab might be oppressive, we shouldn't have the right to use state force to coerce her into believing what we do.  it should be up to her.  Seems like a slippery slope scenario.  what other styles of "ethnic dress" do we start to crack down on (probably whoever we're bombing at the time...)? And what other symbols of religiousness do we ban from public display?  Do we continue on to hijab's? do we ban burn victims who choose to wear a face mask too?  if they put the kind of state pressure they're putting on this woman towards really helping eradicating sexism, we'd be in a much better place.  

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
SJ, I've requested from the start that we wait to hear all the facts. But now you've offered up a new one - that this woman was asked to leave because her covered face "offended people"? Haven't seen that claim expressed by anyone, either in the media reports nor these two threads.

If your Roman Catholic priest entered the classroom and said: "I would just like to mention that, for religious reasons, there should be a distance of at least two desks between me and any Jew, Protestant, Muslim, or atheist - unless they're women, in which case no problem" - would you say: "Well, that does no one any harm, so of course we'll accommodate your deeply held religious beliefs! Have a seat!" 

I believe we can agree, and I seem to have interpreted your previous comments on the matter as proof that an agreement exists, in viewing practices of this nature as being influenced by patriarchal dictates, which offends on many levels. This society continually accommodates offensive ideologies. For example, it provides tax exemptions for faith based institutions that preach homophobia, while allowing them the space under freedom of speech to influence the political discourse. There exists a range of public gestures that accommodate beliefs that are held to be deeply offensive and detrimental to many citizens.

I'm of the opinion that it is vital for the sake of progressive social evolution that all of it should be rolled back to the point that if one wishes to be exposed to the various manifestations, it will become necessary to seek out the hidden places where fewer and fewer people absorb the nonsense on the fringes of society.

This desirable push back against the traditional forces of intolerance in this country doesn't appear as a priority for any level of government. My proposition is that the first place to start, leading by example as it were, is to deal with the traditional forms of patriarchy in this culture, and not by setting a precedence upon the head of an immigrant woman who already has enough obstacles to contend with.

That is not to say that classes should be completely disrupted and rendered dysfunctional as per your example with the priest. What it means is that until we deal with the wider issues, starting among ourselves, it should be the function of public institutions to find creative ways to accommodate different practices, instead of dismissing them outright and barring them from participation entirely.

Unionist

Slumberjack wrote:
What it means is that until we deal with the wider issues, starting among ourselves, it should be the function of public institutions to find creative ways to accommodate different practices, instead of dismissing them outright and barring them from participation entirely.

Oh, I agree. And I'm very relieved to note that that examples of "barring participation" over recent years have been rare to the point that one single event becomes a national controversy (kirpans, voting, etc.). If you want to talk about Muslims, for example (notwithstanding my view that this particular incident has nothing to do with Islam, which I continue to maintain), I don't see any significant phenomenon of excluding Muslims from educational institutions or workplaces etc., as distinct from the generalized xenophobia in the society - do you? Islamophobia takes other, more political forms, for the most part.

I also agree with you that our struggle for women's rights can't begin with lecturing and dictating to the "other" while tolerating different forms of the very same oppression in the rest of our society, although I don't really think that's what's happening here. I see this as a matter of not rolling back victories already achieved in the recognition of women's rights, in the name of accommodating religious beliefs or cultural practices that aren't in accord with those victories.

Slumberjack

Then the question is Unionist, where do you think we should start?

Unionist

SJ, that's a big question for a lot of reasons. And I don't have a lot of answers.

First, I'm seeing this whole situation through the lens of Québec society and the particularity of the struggles here. That's why I am very disposed - attracted - to the proposition that as between gender equality and religious beliefs, gender equality must triumph. Once that principle is established, and yes, I want to see it entrenched in the Québec Charter, then we can see how actual accommodation works in cases where dogmatic application would lead to exclusion. But until it's entrenched, we will have a false equivalency of "rights", with ad hoc solutions in every case that lack a firm foundation.

Yes, SJ, I believe in a hierarchy of rights, and I'll say it again. Our society's need to eliminate the subordination of women is more important than its need to recognize every individual's taste or belief about dress or other religious or cultural customs. The latter deserve to be accommodated - but never at the expense of the former.

Second, there is a host of measures that need to be taken to attack patriarchy's multiple manifestations in our society - political, economic, cultural. I'd like to see that discussion take place in the Feminism forum, and with women's voices having priority of place. I have my own list in mind, and I've posted about many of them, but it's based primarily on my trade union and workplace experience (plus the unfortunate fact that I'm male...) so it's narrow - issues of universal affordable publicly delivered child care, skills training, attacking cultural barriers to women entering skilled trades, the political tokens and reality of equality (the Québec provincial cabinet, for example, is 50-50 female-male since 2007, and it's hard to see how any government could dare retreat from that victory), plus many others. But I repeat - in the feminism forum, and it's not for me to set that agenda.

Finally, on religion again. Accommodation is a balancing act. Individuals who have religious beliefs (whether they're immigrants or not) are entitled to every reasonable effort of accommodation where required. But where that accommodation conflicts with progressive ideals that our society has embraced, or is struggling to embrace, then accommodation - which means compromise - must be entertained by both sides.

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

I would like to express my support and appreciation of the posts in this thread, and part 1, of skdadl, Slumberjack and Catchfire. I have almost nothing further to add to what they've said.

In deciding to enter this thread, I thought it would be a cool idea to check out some Muslim feminist bloggers I know, see what they have to say about this incident or the veil in general.

Guess what? I didn't find much. It seems that the day to day expression and experience of living with mysogynist Islamophobia in the US and Canada doesn't make this particular incident stand out for some Muslim feminists.

Muslimah Media Watch

The Tales of a Modern Muslimah  Please check out the section of posts in the category Islamic feminism.

Margari Aziza  

Aqsa Zine  (sadly not updated in for a couple of months but I link to them whenever possible because they fucking rock!)

A gentle reminder that there are some people in this world who will never choose between prioritizing the issues facing women or the issues facing racialized people. Those people, also known as women of colour, live gender oppression and racist oppression every day.

Caissa

An editorial cartoon in Friday's Montreal Gazette is highlighting a controversial incident in which a Muslim woman was asked to leave a French language school for refusing to remove her niqab.

The cartoon, by Terry Mosher, who draws under the name Aislin, shows the face of a woman in a niqab. In the space where her eyes would normally be seen, the cartoonist has shown prison bars and a lock.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/03/12/mont-gazette-cartoon-niqab-aislin.html#ixzz0hywn4zGW

Unionist

Maysie wrote:

A gentle reminder that there are some people in this world who will never choose between prioritizing the issues facing women or the issues facing racialized people. Those people, also known as women of colour, live gender oppression and racist oppression every day.

Thanks for listing the folks who are on the correct side of this issue - and thanks also for explaining to me that I have given priority to people suffering from gender oppression over those suffering from racial oppression. That really brings a new perspective to this discussion that I hadn't seen anyone make explicit before. I'm also thrilled to hear that the good folks never have to prioritize.

 

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
First, I'm seeing this whole situation through the lens of Québec society and the particularity of the struggles here.

I wonder about the recent debate and town hall discussions regarding accommodation, and how much of it, if any is being influenced by the discourse and measures being implemented in France.

Quote:
Our society's need to eliminate the subordination of women is more important than its need to recognize every individual's taste or belief about dress or other religious or cultural customs. The latter deserve to be accommodated - but never at the expense of the former.

We need to be mindful of acts and expressions which subordinate the individual to dominant thought processes and traditions as well. The effort to do with the privilege of being mindful is another topic of discussion in itself. As I alluded to, the holistic approach which peels away the internalized structures of what we perceive as acceptable fault lines should only be undertaken in support of and in conjunction with affected individuals and communities, and not as the decision making vanguard of changes that we insist on from a position of impatient expedience, which merely serves our own purpose. When we shed the hypocrisy of the contemporary detestable circumstances which passes unnoticed and accepted for the most part, at that point we'll have a leg to stand on in support of others. You are correct in saying that for those who enjoy all the possible benefits of respective status, it is unhelpful for us to determine the agenda, and set the rules.

Quote:
Finally, on religion again. Accommodation is a balancing act. Individuals who have religious beliefs (whether they're immigrants or not) are entitled to every reasonable effort of accommodation where required. But where that accommodation conflicts with progressive ideals that our society has embraced, or is struggling to embrace, then accommodation - which means compromise - must be entertained by both sides.

When the dominant society petitions the customary systems of oppression to compromise, which ideally would involve minding their own business by refraining from the sort of political interference which affects everyone, we will have achieved the solid footing to engage in discussion with others. Ignoring the defecating elephant in our own living space while complaining about the beast at the neighbours residence doesn't appear to be a particularly appealing or convincing approach.

ETA: I'll admit Brother U, that this perspective has been leisurely developed over a period of time, because the pace of attempting to understand is a privilege denied to others that exist under incomprehensible circumstances by reason of birth. They are only personal ramblings that are in no way offered in the spirit of being thought of as authoritative. To believe in the infallibility of my own 'expertise' would be ludicrous from where I stand.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Unionist, when you say stuff like this:

Unionist wrote:
 Yes, SJ, I believe in a hierarchy of rights, and I'll say it again. Our society's need to eliminate the subordination of women is more important than its need to recognize every individual's taste or belief about dress or other religious or cultural customs. The latter deserve to be accommodated - but never at the expense of the former.

... then I will respond. There is a marked lack of voice on babble and never is it so evident as in a thread like this. That voice is of course the voices of women of colour. It's not a joke.

Back to lurking for me.

remind remind's picture

If I perceive that actions of some women, based upon their mythological beliefs, are going to diminish my continued seeking of our equity rights, there will be a fight on against it Their beliefs DO NOT outweigh my rights.

 

Are we going to start letting FGM occur here too because it is a "belief"?  It is bad enough we allow circumcizing, however, I recognize that is a fight that is up to men to halt.

 

And as for speaking about WOC voices NOT being present here, I remember quite clearly how Trisha Baptie was treated here because her position did not fit with some, so lacking WOC voices remains a convienent excuse  here at babble, as far as I can see.

Unionist

Maysie, if you seriously believe my opinions are responsible for the absence of women of colour on babble, then have a chat with the mods and delete my account. Otherwise, please take it to rabble reactions. Everyone has been dealing, quite respectfully I thought, with the substance of this very complex issue, until your last two posts.

Slumberjack

remind wrote:
If I perceive that actions of some women, based upon their mythological beliefs, are going to diminish my continued seeking of our equity rights, there will be a fight on against it Their beliefs DO NOT outweigh my rights.

I understand that you're late to the discussion, so in an attempt to bring you up to date with the topic at hand, it doesn't pertain to your rights, or mine for that matter.

Slumberjack

Unionist wrote:
Everyone has been dealing, quite respectfully I thought, with the substance of this very complex issue, until your last two posts.

In fairness Unionist, as much as we perceive ourselves to be at the cutting edge of analysis on this particular topic, we come to the issue in our own fashion laden with internalized beliefs.  For others on the coal face [now there's an overused analogy] of an entirely different reality that we know little about except as spectators, the mere act of interjecting an opinion can be somewhat of a drain on the reservoir of civility.

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