'It is August, the silly season,' I said. 'It's when the sensible are on holiday and the foolish are left in charge.'
These were my words to my sister when she told me about the man in Cannes who banned women from wearing the burkini at the beach. To my disgust, it turns out that the man from Cannes isn't some jumped up nobody, but actually the elected Mayor.
But what is the burkini, you ask?
The burkini is the all over swimwear that looks very much like a scuba diving suit. It is the preference of Muslim mothers who must follow their small children into the sea to make sure that they don't drown whilst they frolic in the waves.
It is the preference of pale skinned women, most probably redheads, who must also follow their children into the sea, and must try to:
1. Safeguard against skin cancer
2. Avoid looking like a beetroot after an hour
It is also the preference of that Domestic Queen, Nigella Lawson, who wears it to avoid turning her cream coloured skin into one that resembles her morning latte.
Now, however, thanks to a middle aged, white man called David Lisnard, aka, the Mayor of Cannes, none of these women can wear a burkini because the man has banned it on the grounds that he deems it inappropriate clothing for the beach.
Interestingly, this French Mayor who publicly comments on women's clothing is no different to some Muslim men (minority, I emphasize) who have lectured me/advised me/wagged their finger at me to wear the hijab? These are not members of my family but complete strangers or acquaintances who tried to raise their own self importance by telling me what to wear.
It was my Nannyma, my rock and guide to whom I dedicated my novel Secrets of the Henna Girl to who once told me some real truth. 'When a man feels powerless and inadequate within his own peer group,' she said in all her wisdom, 'he will try to bully women to make himself feel important. He might not be able to gain the respect of his peers, but hey ho, at least he can push the women around by telling them what to wear, what to do, when to speak, and where to walk.'
All these men suffer from the Entitlement disease which comes with the male belief that the Y chromosome gives them the right to dictate their preferences on us women. I have always dismissed such Muslim men as insignificant nobodies who cannot affect me or my choices.
Sadly, the power that the mayoralty affords David Lisnard does affect my choice.
I choose to be a Muslim woman who does not wear the hijab. That is my choice, a choice that the western world with all its ideals has granted me. The choice that comes from the fundamental belief that I, and only I can choose what to wear and what not to wear. No religious or political body in the western world can force me to wear the hijab.
Why then has my choice to wear a burkini in Cannes been taken away from me?
Why must I accept an extremely right wing man's interpretation of what is an appropriate amount of clothing for my body?
Has he ever thought about the fact that I may not wish to resemble a withered kebab after spending four hours on the beach? I spend a fortune on anti aging creams. Why would I want to reverse the magic of L'Oreal and Garnier just so I can fit in with French women whose skin is either lobster pink, or bordering on the leather look (which will never be in fashion no matter how long Donatella Versace wears the look).
Again, how is this French man different to the Muslim man who thought he was flattering me when he said the hijab would increase my beauty?
As the human rights activist and author Arundhati Roy has said: 'When, as happened recently in France, an attempt to coerce women out of the burqa rather than creating a situation in which she can choose what she wishes to do, it's not about liberating her, but about unclothing her. It becomes an act of humiliation and cultural imperialism. It's not about the burqa. It's about the coercion. Coercing a woman out of a burqa is as bad as coercing her into one.'
One last point, I know it's the silly season but are all western feminists really on holiday? Are the clothing rights of Muslim women, redheads, and Nigella Lawson not worth commenting on?Suggest a correction