Patriarchy as the Exclusive Domain of the Other: The Veil Controversy, False Projection and Cultural Racism
University of Bologna School of Law; Johns Hopkins University (SAIS)
October 4, 2011
International Journal of Constitutional Law (I•CON), 2012
This article critically analyzes the (mis)use of feminist language and rhetoric in measures restricting the right to wear traditional female Muslim clothing in various European jurisdictions. It posits that this mobilization of female symbols is, in the first place, part of a strategy of exclusion and of cultural homogenization which aims at anchoring European identity in secularized Christianity, while at the same time reinforcing the systemic nature of gender oppression. The use of feminist language in the struggle against the veil moreover, can be interpreted according to the pattern of false projection. In the Dialectic of Enlightenment Adorno and Horkheimer describe false projection as the phenomenon which enables majority cultures to project on minorities some features of their own which they seek to hide from themselves. In this light, Muslim women come to embody the projected visions of Islam as “the” patriarchal Other, which is a particularly useful device for purpose of hiding an unresolved conflict within Western civilization.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 18
Keywords: burqa, headscarf, hidjab, niqab, jibab, multiculturalism, gender equality, liberalism, populism, feminism, orientalism, colonialism, post-colonial studies, antisemitism, islamophobia, sexuality, religion, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, paternalism, projection, racism
Date posted: October 4, 2011 ; Last revised: September 3, 2012