Posts Tagged ‘France’
I am not a fan of the Niqab or Burka, but then again I am against enforcing specific dress codes, to wear something or not to wear something.
I argued some time ago on this very topic at Zword, but reconsidering some of those arguments I think there is a better way of looking at it, a simpler way. In the grand scheme of things, how important is it, really? In my view, not much.
When you think of France, with all its numerous social problems, economic ills and political difficulties, would you think that a piece of cloth is the biggest problem that they face?
And does it become a bigger issue when worn by women, in strategic places ?
I suspect most intelligent readers will say, no.
Clearly, there is plenty of historical material on secularism in France, and anyone familiar with the French Revolution would know why, but the contemporary debate in France owes more to the political manoeuvrings of politicians and the influence of the Far Right.
Xenophobia has long been a problem in Europe with its major manifestations in the 1930s and 40s.
More recently we can see increased racial attacks and violence again Roma across European countries, including France and then the spectre of nativism raises its ugly head, where those wearing unapproved fashions are now attacked.
The Far Right’s influence can be seen all over these measures, along with Nicolas Sarkozy’s fingerprints as he panders to French nativism in the hope of electoral success.
France has many serious problems and they do not come down to bits of cloth worn by women.
The real problems and social ills in France should be dealt with, and it does not help women in anyway to fine them for not wearing the approved range of clothes.
So in Europe let us be serious, deal with the real problems, infrastructure, social inequalities, decent wages, good pension, a solid welfare state and the stark divisions between rich and poor, and not these panicky measure which only increase racial tension and help the Far Right.
Update 1: Previous posts on the topic, Stigmatising Dress Codes.
Eamonn McDonagh has a good piece on fashion, fashionistas and those who defend John Galliano:
“She doesn’t deny that Galliano expressed admiration for Hitler and wished death on people he believed to be Jews but chooses to divert attention from and minimize the importance of this with irrelevant blather of various sorts. By the tone and content of her remarks she also indicates that her admiration for Galliano has not been diminished by his having revealed himself to be a gross racist and enthusiast for killing Jews.
Of course Oloixarac might respond by saying “Oh that was just John being John, being provocative. No one can possibly believe that he really has anything against Jews, those were just words, and he’s an artist for heaven’s sake, always trying to break through the boundaries and limits on what can be said.”
To which, two responses:
1. Great, he broke the bourgeois taboo about endorsing genocide and expressing grossly racist views. Clap! Clap! Perhaps we can now hope that other creative people will step forward and endorse pedophilia, the random murder of strangers and cannibalism and that Oloixarac will defend them with equal enthusiasm.
2. Great, he broke the bourgeois taboo about endorsing genocide and expressing grossly racist views. And because we respect his ability to think and act for himself we have to believe that he understood the likely consequences of expressing such views and making such threats in posh bars and restaurants in Paris and can have no complaints about his having been sacked by Dior.”
The New York Times has a piece on John Galliano and High Fascism:
“Maybe we were. Fashion is more than business in France: it’s a mythology, a secular religion, a source of national pride, especially during Fashion Week, when the country recalls its history as the birthplace of haute couture.
In recent days, though, in response to the anti-Semitic diatribe by Christian Dior’s creative director, John Galliano, the French have been recalling a far more ominous chapter in their history.
According to witnesses, a drunken Mr. Galliano exploded at a woman seated near him in a Paris bar. “Dirty Jewish face, you should be dead,” he is said to have told her. “Your boots are of the lowest quality, your thighs are of the lowest quality. You are so ugly I don’t want to see you. I am John Galliano!”
France is highly sensitive to such matters, and reprisals came quickly. Dior fired Mr. Galliano, who now faces charges of using a racial insult, a crime in France. But beyond the spectacle of one man’s abhorrent politics, the episode invites consideration of the curious relationship between French fashion and fascism.
During the Occupation, the Nazis and their French allies recognized the power and national prestige of the French fashion industry and sought to harness it. When the collaborationist Vichy government took over direction of the French lifestyle magazine Paris Soir, it announced in its pages a “summer of couture … and shopping.” The Nazis were so enamored with fashion’s place in French culture that in their plans for postwar Europe, they stipulated that, unlike other industries, the fashion sector would remain in France.
Which brings us back to Mr. Galliano in the Paris bar. His was not a generic anti-Semitic tirade, but the self-conscious pronouncement of a world-class arbiter of taste (“I am John Galliano!”). Not only did he use ethnic slurs, he accused the woman of being unattractive and unfashionable, associating both with ethnicity, with being Jewish (which she happened not to be).
The link is clear: like a fascist demagogue of yore, he was declaring that she did not belong to the gilded group who wear the right boots, and from this Mr. Galliano slid effortlessly to a condemnation of her very flesh, and a wish for her death. “
Hadley Freeman takes on the fashionistas and John Galliano’s excusers:
” If Field, Kidman and the rest of the fashion corps took their heads out of their butts for a few minutes and read a book, they would doubtless cite what is known as The TS Eliot Defence, which is that Eliot’s distasteful views of Jews haven’t stopped people reading his work. The answer to this is, quite obviously: 1. While antisemitism is always abhorrent, Eliot did live in a different era and some adjustments of expectations must be made, and, in any case: 2. Eliot, to my knowledge, never said all Jews should have been gassed.
If reading feels like too much of a trial, perhaps they could cite The Coco Chanel Defence, which argues that Chanel herself was not averse to having some sexy time with top-level Nazis during the war but people are not condemned for wearing the Chanel label today. Again, two simple replies: 1. Chanel was punished for her treacherous behaviour and her business suffered (because Parisians in the 1940s understood that wearing clothes by someone who expresses love for a Nazi is not such a good look), and: 2. The clothes are no longer designed by Coco Chanel as she is, in fact, dead. Yes, the designer for the label these days, Karl Lagerfeld, is German but, come on, we’ve all moved on. Well, all of us except Galliano.
While we all wait with bated breath to see how rehab cures Galliano’s antisemitism problem (and how, pray tell, does antisemitic rehab work? Is he force-fed matzo-ball soup? Made to watch Annie Hall on loop? Taught the ways of hypochondria? Gosh, sounds kinda like my childhood), let us muse on how the answer to Lucinda’s question is in fashion patois. The fancy term in fashion land for wearing a designer’s clothes is “showing support”, eg: “Tom Ford’s such a dear friend so I always try to show support for him.” Ergo, perhaps now is not the time to “show support” for Galliano. “
Update 1: At the Poor Mouth, Defending Galliano – When Silence is Golden.
As with so many bigots and antisemites their history comes back to haunt them.
John Galliano, who was suspended by Dior for an antisemitic incident at a Paris cafe recently, did it before.
According to the JC, a video has surfaced on the Internet with Galliano making a comment “I love Hitler”.
Further, Galliano goes on to say
“People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, would all be fucking gassed.”
Update 1: Linda Grant’s thoughts are here.
You might think that antisemitism was a relic of the 20th century, something of the past, something that humans had learnt from, to avoid.
Now John Galliano, the famous designer, has been indulging in his own brand of antisemitism, according to AP:
“PARIS (AP) — Officials say Dior designer John Galliano was briefly detained after a spat in a Paris restaurant.
An official with the Paris prosecutor’s office says a couple in the restaurant accused Galliano of making anti-Semitic insults. A police official said Friday that Galliano also exchanged slaps with the couple.
The flamboyant British designer was questioned and released after the Thursday night incident. Both officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing say Galliano’s blood alcohol levels were high.
The Dior fashion house would not comment on the incident. “
Update 1: As if on cue, Mel phones:
“He said he had received calls of support from fellow celebrities, including Mel Gibson. “Occasionally, you know, a giant marquee name comes through on your caller ID. And it’s like, winning,” Sheen said. “
From the EJP:
“PARIS (EJP-AFP)—The Paris City Hall has mobilized its employees to remove wall posters making publicity for an anti-Semitic book denouncing the “Jewish mafia”.
The move followed a complaint by the National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA), a body monitoring anti-Semitic incidents in France.
According to BNVCA president Samy Ghozlan, these posters are regularly placed on wall of Paris and its suburbs since November 12.
They represent three men standing upright with the mention “The Jewish mafia, the great international predators” and feature a new book by extreme-right and anti-Semitic author, Herve Ruyssen.
The BNVCA was alerted by several of its Parisian correspondents who were shocked to discover on the walls of diverse locations in the French capital the anti-Semitic advertising posters.
On these posters one could also read: ” Racket, weapons trafficking, murder under contract, drug trafficking, money laudering, casinos and discotheques, pornography, diamond trafficking, slave trade, Third world plundering, artworks trafficking, swindle.”