The Wardrobe Wars: Bikinis and Garbage Bags

The Wardrobe Wars: Bikinis and Garbage Bags August 17, 2010

It seems as though the civilizational warfare as manifested by our differing wardrobes has had two recent battles involving the Brits, burqas, and bikinis.

About a week ago, a British woman in a Dubai shopping mall, allegedly wearing a shirt which seemed to reveal too much in relation to boobage and leggage, was scolded by a passing Emirati woman who felt the Brit’s clothing violated the modesty dress code, put up by mall authorities in respect to the country’s Islamic identity and ethos (which, fortunately, do not affect the Emirate’s use of slave labor for its self-glorification).

The British woman responded to the Emirati woman’s complaints by stripping down to her bikini. So much for “keep calm and carry on.” Both women ended up getting up in each others’ grills and mall authorities proceeded to detain both women. The Emirati woman then filed a complaint against the British woman, who was arrested by authorities for public indecency.

The response, albeit brief and minimal, has been unsurprising. For some, breaking the dress code social norm is heralded as a striking achievement for all of female kind, while for others it has begged the question: why was she wearing a bikini under her clothes?

Around the same time, New Atheist G-d Richard Dawkins decides to compare the burqa to a “bin liner.”

For those of you North Americans unversed in English, he means a garbage bag.

In an interview with the Radio Times, the 69-year-old author and evolutionary biologist reportedly said he is filled with “visceral revulsion” when he sees Muslim women wearing the traditional, face-covering Islamic veils.

Yet Dawkins, well known as a prominent defender of atheism, stopped short of advocating a burqa ban. “As a liberal, I would hesitate to propose a blanket ban on any style of dress because of the implications of individual liberty and freedom of choice,” he told the Daily Mail after making his initial remarks.

Truly a beacon of tolerance.

The two aforementioned incidents don’t necessarily deserve any real attention and consideration in and of themselves. While the former has garnered much attention from Britons and the international media alike, it’s not something completely out of the ordinary. People will, once in awhile, scold (or compliment or ridicule) others for what they are wearing, whatever it is. Whether it’s a hijab, niqab or a skirt just barely holding on to the contours of one’s buttocks, someone’s gonna say something to your face or behind your back.

Additionally, if you “indecently expose” (however defined) yourself in any country, you’ll most likely get in trouble for that. I surely could never walk around an Eaton Center in Vancouver wearing a bikini. As normal as a bikini is in North American culture (at least when gracing the beach and magazine covers), even here one would be subjected to some sort of legal repercussions if someone were to file a complaint. So, it’s really not a huge deal.

Then there is Dawkins’ comment. Really?  Are we really surprised that someone who has made it his life’s goal to prove the universal idiocy and hateful nature of all faith-based peoples alike would say something so intolerant?


This isn’t news. But because the Clash of Civilizations theory (damn you, Huntington, damn you!) is always present in between the headlines of such stories, these rather mundane occurrences become sensational tales of the ever-growing tensions between the Moozlimz and the bikini-loving Westerner. Any outrage over either of these events speaks volumes about our priorities as individuals and as a collective—whatever that collective may represent.

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