The Quebec niqab thing keeps going and going (ugh), and I’m still avoiding talking about media coverage of the issue head-on, mostly because I think I’ll explode if I think more about the absurdity of it all, and I’ve written on niqab so much already that there’s not a lot else to say. This post at Racialicious is a pretty good overview of the issue, and of some of the media and activism that has come out in response. (Also, avoiding the media discussion isn’t the same as ignoring the issue. See this link for a list of ways to take action, if you are so inclined–particularly any readers in Canada.)
And yet I can’t seem to avoid it entirely, because here I am writing about it again – at least, one dimension of it. One quote from this (excellent) article from the Montreal Gazette raises an issue to think about that most other articles have not touched:
The claim that to teach language the teacher needs to see her mouth is to state that blind people cannot teach or learn language and that on-line language classes are bogus.
(To give some context, the latest fuss in Quebec comes largely as a reaction to a woman, originally from Egypt, who was told she was required to remove her niqab in her French language class, so that her teacher could see her mouth in order to help with her pronunciation.)
It seems obvious, and yet, remarkably few of the articles about the niqab ban (in fact, none that I’ve seen aside from this one) ever even acknowledge the possibility of a context other than one where everyone is sighted. My own writing on MMW about it has been equally ableist in this regard (ironically, I have actually talked about this before in academic papers, but somehow that particular analysis hasn’t made it onto the blog yet).