Guest Post: Bikini vs Burqa by Amy Carparelli

Recently, European reader and science communicator Amy Carparelli came across an article entitled Burka Vs Bikini – The Debauchery Of American Womanhood by Henry Makow (PhD).  Makow’s conclusions about why women wear bikinis are incredibly simplistic. An example of his writing:

I am not an expert on the condition of Muslim women and I love feminine beauty too much to advocate the burka here. But I am defending some of the values that the burka represents for me.

For me, the burka represents a woman’s consecration to her husband and family. Only they see her.

It affirms the privacy, exclusivity and importance of the domestic sphere.

The Muslim woman’s focus is her home, the “nest” where her children are born and reared. She is the “home” maker, the taproot that sustains the spiritual life of the family, nurturing and training her children, providing refuge and support to her husband.

In contrast, the bikinied American beauty queen struts practically naked in front of millions on TV. A feminist, she belongs to herself. In practice, paradoxically, she is public property. She belongs to no one and everyone. She shops her body to the highest bidder. She is auctioning herself all of the time.

After a whole lot more of this nauseating and misogynistic drivel, he concludes:

This is especially destructive for woman. Her sexual attraction is a function of her fertility. As fertility declines, so does her sex appeal. If a woman devotes her prime years to becoming “independent,” she is not likely to find a permanent mate.

Her long-term personal fulfillment and happiness lies in making marriage and family her first priority.

Feminism is another cruel New World Order hoax that has debauched American women and despoiled Western civilization. It has ruined millions of lives and represents a lethal threat to Islam.

I am not advocating the burka but rather some of the values that it represents, specifically a woman’s consecration to her future husband and family, and the modesty and dignity this entails.

The burka and the bikini represent two extremes. The answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Amy has responded in particular “to the ridiculous notion that the bikini and the burqa are in any way similar to each other.” Her clarity in describing the reality of the difference between the bikini and the burqa is an excellent addition to the ongoing discussion on this site around women’s clothing, culture, and religion.

Bikini vs Burqa


Bikini vs Burqa
by Amy Carparelli

I wasn’t sure whether I should write this article because I think the bikini and the burqa are in many ways too disparate to be compared. Obviously they are both items of clothing, but they are worn for very different reasons. I decided not to respond to the many sexist statements made by the person who wrote the original blog. The things stated are very much what I would call slavery. I would hope that any decent parent anywhere in the world would raise daughters equally to sons, and encourage daughters to achieve what they want to achieve and not allow themselves to be used in the way the person who wrote the blog believes women should be treated. Religion and culture are no excuse to go against human rights and equal rights’

I will begin with when, where and why I wear a bikini. I sometimes wear a bikini on the beach when the weather is hot and humid, or at a least warm and sunny. I have occasionally worn a bikini on hot and humid days when at home, popping out to the local shops to buy a few items, visiting family and friends, and, on rare occasions when high-street shopping for clothes. I have worn a bikini taking part in some sports. Under these circumstances I would wear a bikini top with denim shorts, jeans, or a skirt and only if I was already wearing a bikini because of the weather and depending on whatever else I am planning on doing that day. With these examples there is a common theme – the weather and being comfortable.

Something I have noticed with some blogs and other articles on this subject is that the image shown is usually of a woman wearing a bikini taking part in a beauty pageant. I think beauty pageants are a different debate. I personally don’t have an issue with these competitions as long as it is consenting adults taking part in them. I do not agree with children taking part in beauty competitions. I am not claiming to be an expert on beauty pageants, but from my understanding contestants wear different outfits throughout the competition and there are other aspects involved. There are usually prizes in these competitions, and consenting adults can enter if they choose to. I will point out the obvious here: the vast majority of women don’t wear bikinis for, or take part in, beauty pageants. I think I can speak for most women by stating we wear bikinis mostly for comfort and to enjoy the weather on hot days, for swimming, or for taking part in a sport. Most of the time we’re free to choose whether or not to wear one.

Some women wear bikinis in modelling photo-shoots and, similar to beauty pageants, models wear varied items of clothing, cover many themes, and often have a lot of fun in shoots. They also may make money or a career out of it and men can be models too. Bikinis may be worn when taking part in sport too, including swimming and beach volleyball. I believe bikinis were originally worn to take part in sporting events.

The burqa is different. Women wear burqas for religious reasons; in some countries women are forced to wear them in public. Other countries may not enforce the burqa by law but encourage women to wear them. Sometimes it will be forced or encouraged by a girl’s father or a woman’s husband. Basically ‘modesty’ and ‘showing your hair is a sin’ are used as tools to encourage women to wear burqas, hijabs and similar items of religious clothing so even in situations when a woman does have the freedom to choose there’s a mental barrier that is created by having your head filled with beliefs, often from a young age. This can be interpreted as making the woman feel responsible for a man having an ‘impure’ thought about her to extreme levels. Thus to prevent men from having these thoughts, a woman must cover up completely from head to toe. There are many examples of this.

In order to satisfy religious rules related to covering a woman’s body, an outfit called a ‘burkini’ has been invented too. It looks similar to a wetsuit worn by divers and includes a head covering to conceal a woman’s hair though not her face. Although it enables a woman to swim without drowning, or to take part in sport, it does not offer the comfort or freedom available to women not shackled by religious belief.

One of the most sexist things about society today is the way women are often judged as either dressing or acting “modestly” or “immodestly.” Google defines modesty thus:


Note especially definition 3:

* (of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.
“the modest women wear long-sleeved dresses and all but cover their faces”
* (of clothing) not revealing or emphasizing a person’s figure.
“modest dress means that hemlines must be below the knee”

Similarly, the terms “classy” and “trashy” are often used to describe women. Personally, I have varied tastes in clothing. I don’t dress to be “modest” or “immodest,” “classy” or “trashy.” Everything I wear is my choice and I dress for comfort, for the situation (e.g. the weather or where I am planning to go), and because I think an outfit looks good on me. I don’t live my life thinking of ridiculous concepts invented by humans that only or mostly apply to women and are used to judge or cast blame on women. The complete history of clothing is not my area of expertise, but I do know that scientific research has traced the wearing of clothing back about 100,000 years ago and a 2011 University of Florida study concluded that humans started wearing clothes some 170,000 years ago by studying the evolution of clothing lice. There is evidence to suggest wearing clothes can be linked to keeping warm and helping us survive extreme weather conditions. This obviously can’t be said about bikinis, worn mostly for comfort in hot humid weather and for sport.

Today is a hot day here in Western Europe and I have seen a number of men walking down the street topless wearing shorts. However rarely, if ever, are terms such as “modest” and “immodest” or “classy” and “trashy” used to define men. And they shouldn’t be, just as they shouldn’t be used to define women. Bikinis are an item of clothing worn occasionally by some women with freedom of choice. Unlike the burqa, the bikini is worn without religious doctrine, force, or emotional “encouragement” being involved.

13 Responses to “Guest Post: Bikini vs Burqa by Amy Carparelli”

  1. Bill Kaszycki says:

    Note to Henry Makow: What has really destroyed millions of lives is the disgusting repression and demonization of human sexuality by the Abrahamic religions and the resultant problems that result – from sexual dysfunction to paraphilias.

  2. Lee Knuth says:

    Thanks for your article. It seems there is no easy answer for Muslim women to change the practice of wearing burkas. They have been indoctrinated since birth that this is what they must wear.

    • Yes – indoctrinated to the point that they believe it’s their own choice in many cases. I think many of those in the West who believe it’s their own choice would feel differently if they lived somewhere it’s mandatory like Iran or Saudi Arabia.

  3. nicky says:

    I think, and you allude to that, that wearing the burka in a non-islamic society is a case of identification. Belonging to a group, different from you, much more than an actual religious conviction. (note, the religion is of course the main identifier). An ingroup/outgroup thing.
    A bit like the ‘cape smile’.

  4. Alessandro Carparelli says:

    “Religion and culture are no excuse to go against human rights and equal rights”

    Good read. Makes a number of good points. This is the first time I have read this. Thank you for inviting Amy to write this.

    • Yes, that sentence is a particularly good one. It’s something that worries me a lot about many on the far left – that they are prepared to ignore things like women’s rights for culture or religion.

      Amy has developed excellent instincts in relation to human rights.

      • Amy Carparelli says:

        This is why I recently Tweeted ‘No, I am not a liberal’. I thought I was a liberal until recently but it seems that some liberals are too quick to defend something as ‘it’s their culture’, ‘it’s their religion’, and ‘it’s their tradition’ and therefore making these things good excuses for sexist and oppressive acts to continue unchallenged.

        It is important to be able to criticize religious, cultural, and traditional thinking and religious doctrine and any acts carried out in the name of religion.

        It is extremely dangerous to ignore or even defend these things as being ‘culture’, ‘religion’, ‘tradition’.
        For example – terrorism, slavery, child brides, forced and arranged marriages, ‘women should submit’ many Christian websites promote as do other religions.

        In my opinion there is a big difference between attacking a religious person verbally or physically out on the street compared to challenging religious, cultural, traditional practises. There are many countries where it is illegal to not be a Muslim (or leave Islam), or to speak out against it. This situation at the moment is similar to the ‘Christian Persecution Complex’ the feeling that ‘to be a true Christian you have to suffer’ aka ‘be thrown to the lions’ and yes Christian persecution does happen in countries including Iraq but this is different to challenging religion, speaking out and questioning religion.

        We also here the word ‘racism’ used in regards to challenge Islam and religious doctrine, however, it is not possible to convert to a race. If they are strong in their beliefs they need not worry about what people say when questioning and challenging religions, if they are insecure then what we say can be a threat to their beliefs. Others see their religion as their identity but personally I prefer to have my own identity and be unique and not be shackled to a religious set of ideas written by men many years ago.

        At the end of the day, if we are not able to speak out against religious, cultural and traditional practises then we are likely to head down the line other countries have, and religions can continue to do what they like and get away with it. Religious privilege has to be done away with if we want to move forward and not backward. If we can’t challenge these things religions will grow and grow and in my opinion destroy humanity – history repeating itself.

        • Excellent comment!

          I still call myself a liberal but disassociate myself as much as possible from the regressive/authoritarian left. I do not consider them true liberals because they are prepared to excuse sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and suppression of freedom of thought and action in an attempt not to appear bigoted.

          • Amy Carparelli says:

            I sent you a good article I found and I think you will be interested in. You may have already read the article it’s dated 2015.

          • Alessandro Carparelli says:

            You hit the nail on the head with this:

            “In my opinion there is a big difference between attacking a religious person verbally or physically out on the street compared to challenging religious, cultural, traditional practises.”

            Regressive left or pandering liberals a term I use.

            I hope Henry Makow doesn’t have any children.

  5. GravelInspectorAidan says:

    For me, the burka represents a woman’s consecration to her husband and family. Only they see her.

    Obviously women who aren’t married don’t exist. Or at least, shouldn’t exist. The profligate hussies.
    And as for women who think they have opinions of their own, instead of their father’s (or other male guardian), well their fate is waist-deep in a pit under a hail of stones of between 250g and 750g! In the words of the immortal Freewheelin’ Frankin Freakowtski, “Hallejuleahbubble!”
    Oh, sorry, I left out “barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink”. That was an inadvertent slip and I’ll try to remember it for my next rant.

    • This is fairly old news, and not a problem. Our population has grown hugely (in % terms) in recent years, partly because we’re one of the few countries that came out of the GFC OK and partly because we need people to cope with a building boom (which itself was mostly caused by the Christchurch earthquake) and the downstream pressures that creates. Auckland especially needs tens of thousands of new houses and we can’t do that from existing resources. We don’t have a limit on immigration numbers, but we do have criteria for immigrants (except for a few categories in the Pacific Islands). So we should be able to deal with it OK, though people may have to wait a bit longer than usual to get through the process.

      Poms don’t seem to whinge as much as they used to, and the ‘Barmy Army’ that comes here and travels the country following sporting events (like rugby and cricket) are pretty popular. In fact it’s a while since I’ve heard the phrase “whinging Pom.” It was VERY common in my youth though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *