Yeah, so is our makeup. Let’s ban that too!
Seriously, I can’t believe feminists who make this “It’s sexist, but it should be up to the woman whether she wants to wear it” point, as though the former sentiment is some kind of disclaimer for the grudging latter. Why do you need to specifically point this out? Would you do the same for miniskirts, high heels, and lip gloss if they were up for a nationwide ban? Or would you be outraged that the government is infringing not only on your freedom of expression and your rights but on your person? I sure as hell would. There is no need, in this context, to discuss whether miniskirts or face veils are empowering or oppressive. That is an entirely different discussion. It is not the point.
Feminism does not reinforce the governmental imposition of beliefs and practices on women. Apologizing for how sexist you feel face veils are while asserting that government should not control them is almost as pretentious as apologizing for the actions of a woman walking at night while insisting the rapist was fully responsible. If you believe she has the right, whether or not she should practice it is irrelevant. In neither case, the veil or walking alone, is she infringing on the rights of others, and the one who is infringing on the rights of others–the one who infringes on her rights in both cases–is not to be given even a hint of any arbitrary “justification.”
Update 4/17/11:Consider the Tea Cosy has an awesome post on this.