Rosie DiManno’s Best Paragraph Ever

by | September 19, 2015

In her Toronto Star article entitled “Why give a toehold to oppression?” Rosie DiManno has written the best paragraph ever:

Fundamentally, I object to Ishaq’s conviction because this isn’t, in truth, about her desire alone, or that of any other woman who embraces the niqab. It’s about me, too, and every other female in this country. If her face is too intimate a physical feature to be exposed during a Citizenship Oath — a core act within the covenant of becoming a Canadian — then what adverse connotations, about morality or chasteness or impiety, can be deduced about me and others of my persuasion? Are we lesser women because others can see our faces? Because that’s the message I’m getting.

I don’t always agree with Rosie DiManno, but I do agree with what she says in the paragraph above. I’m looking forward to hearing from those who agree or diagree wih me and DiManno, so please read DiManno’s argument against giving oppression a toehold in Canada.

12 thoughts on “Rosie DiManno’s Best Paragraph Ever

  1. billybob

    No society could function if all the members wore a niqab, a niqab is only functional in a society when those who wear it are subservient essentially chattel.

  2. Joe

    So… What she chooses to wear is really all about… ME?
    Yeah, that sounds like Dimanno, for sure.

    Does a woman’s choice of clothing offend or insult you?
    Too fucking bad.

    As long as people are free to choose to wear it, the slippery slope, in this case, remains a fallacy.

    1. Veronica Abbass Post author

      “As long as people are free to choose to wear it,”

      Are all people (women) free to choose to wear it? No, they are not.

      “Does a woman’s choice of clothing offend or insult you?
      Too fucking bad.`”

      You have offended me.

      1. Joe

        “Are all people (women) free to choose to wear it?”
        In Canada, they are. And this is the context of this case.

        In Canada, a woman’s freedom is not limited to feminist approved options.
        People in Canada have the right to intentionally offend Muslims with things like draw Mohammad day and Jesus and Mo, and that is a good thing. Muslim Canadians have similar rights, as they should, in a free society.

  3. Bruce Van Dietein

    I don’t know where to come down on this issue. I am tugged by many ideas, many perhaps of the strawman kind. So help me out here. I have thought about this a lot and still haven’t conclusively come up with an answer.
    1) I’m a man, is there a bit of “mansplaining” going on when I talk about how women should dress?
    2) I find religion and by extension religious dress, to be exclusionary and therefore divisive. “I wear this dress as a way of defining myself by my piety and my “tribe” and I am different/better/distinct from you.” Still I find much of our secular dress, like tattoos and piercings, stupid/distracting/exclusionary. In the end, if someone wants/insists/needs to wear a tent over their head, why do I care. A tent on your head? Seems quite Canadian in a way doesn’t it?
    3) Back to the man thing again, as a man I am not forced to cut off my beard and remove my turban or yarmulke to have a passport pic taken am I? Is there a gender bias here or am I wrong. If we’re worried about altering one’s appearance, that ship has sailed, hasn’t it?
    4) Wearing the head tent is archaic, paternalistic, sexist and demoralizing to women and should be banned, if not in public as a whole, certainly for citizenship or trial witness procedures. Full stop.
    5) We must enforce 4) because women who are enslaved by these practices haven’t the freedom, ideologically or historically, to make up their own minds about how they should dress. Add to their brainwashing the fear of reprisal or being ostracized and we must be the externality that brings about the Muslim reformation. Our interference is their only hope.
    6) In a progressive, secular society, we prize our privacy (listen-up Mr. Harper), perhaps above all else except for life itself. We should recognize this is a privacy right, and a matter of freedom of expression. Perhaps we should all start wearing head tents to keep the federal conservatives and liberals at bay in their spying efforts.
    7) “…Citizenship Oath – a core act within the covenant of becoming a Canadian -…” So baring one’s face should be upheld because this is our tradition in the Citizenship Oath? I like it and I think it is a valuable tradition, but the Queen is a tradition and I’d like to see her go and we’d live very nicely without her. Is this really such a necessary tradition, or is it a like to have? I’m not arguing either way.
    8) Finally, see 1 again.

  4. steve oberski

    Hey Bruce,

    To the extent that women wearing the hijab/niqab/burka are doing so as the result of a fully informed and non-coerced choice I fully support their right to do so under any circumstances.

    As well I fully support their right to make fully informed and non-coerced choices, which I do not think generally applies when it comes to these garments.

    The garments are but a symptom of a deeper malaise, one might as well put a band-aid on a cancer patient as try to ban the wearing of these garments in terms of any sort of real long term solution.

    The problem is that in many societies women (amongst other groups) are not fully equal participants.

    The longer term solution is the full emancipation of women, according them full autonomy over all aspects of their lives.

    I suspect that when this happens very few women will want appear in public wearing trash bags.

  5. Immigrant

    Hey Bruce,

    As a woman born into Islam and with education on Islam, I may have an answer for you.I have commented on niqab and burqa before on this webpage, but I try to be as brief as I can here, though honestly it is difficult to do.

    1- First of all, There is NO evidence (zero) in Quran and hadith that muslim women are required to cover their faces. Anyone claiming that this is an Islamic requirement, is either a big liar or has a very elaborate and misogynistic imagination as well as a stupidly weak command of Arabic language to interpret Quranic verses as such.

    The vast majority of muslim scholars and religious leaders have declared burqa and niqab un-islamic. The ones in favour of it are fundamentalist and radical imams. Niqab most probably was a garment used by both men and women in hijaz to protect against the sand storms and direct sun of desert and is irrelevant to Islam.

    However, there is a verse in Quran that advices women to cover their head and use the ending of their head coverings to cover their bosoms. But, it does not “mandate” such coverings as a requirement for muslim women it only advises. Anyone who knows a little bit about how Islamic ahkaam (orders) work, knows that therefore it means it is NOT an islamic requirement. That is why many muslims and even some imams and islamic scholars consider even head covering as unnecessary to be considered as a practising muslim, let alone niqab and burqa.

    In Quran both women and men are also instructed to cover their “Owrat” which in Arabic means “private part”, however, there are and have been misogynist imams who have interpreted “Owrat” for women as EVERY PART OF A WOMAN’S BODY including her face! They say a woman’s face is the first thing a man sees in his interaction with women and her face may give ill thoughts to him which is a sin, so she is causing him to sin (or she is creating Fitnah) and she must cover her face not to cause fitnah!!! purely ridiculous and misogynist.

    2- The majority of muslims are against burqa and niqab. Just google “Canadian muslim Burqa” and you see a lot of muslim institutions, groups and foundations as well as many individual muslims that call on mandating and expanding a ban on niqab and burqa because of its misogynist meaning and wrong association to Islam. Even the Canadian society of msulims is against burqa and niqab. They call burqa and niqab ” a political instrument of islamists and fundamentalists to brainwash and segregate muslim women”.

    The majority of muslim women do not wear it, it almost disappeared in some mulism countries except Saudi and Afghanistan, it was fully abolished in Iran in 1930s and it never existed in many other muslim countries in the first place. but as extremism and radicalism started to rise in the muslim world so did the come back of niqab and burqa, suddenly it became an item again.

    In general this garment works against muslim women in many ways that I will get into very briefly because I see you are already kind of aware of its roots but not its harms.

    The first harm is that Niqab pretends to be a requirement to be a better muslim woman while it is NOT. A brief glance on who supports burqa and niqab and who condemns it can be eye opening for anyone. Moderate and progressive muslims are AGAINST and ISIS and radicals are FOR. This must give all an idea.

    NOW I want to ask who are these fundamentalist lovers with a mask of liberalism on their faces, to say it is part of Islam while the vast majority of muslims all around the world are shouting on top of their lungs that it is NOT?

    3- The idea behind such garments is hyper-sexualization and objectification of women as well as limiting women’s social interaction that is one of the reasons it is black or dark coloured in the first place. It is the other side of the same female hyper-sexualization coin as we see in the west.

    Even a woman’s nose and face is sexualized hence must be covered not to provoke men sexually! how cheap this idea is.

    Such garments have a negative impact on the lives of muslim women and girls and affect the whole society negatively. We do not live in a vacuum, our individual choices can affect the whole society, so we cannot bring every single thing down to the individual level , toss a “yes my choice” , “no not my choice” there and call it a day. This is called extreme individualism which is seen in almost all arguments presented by neo-liberals when it comes to such topics. There is a bigger picture , the bigger society that we must pay attention to.

    Such garments not only dehumanize and objectify muslim women by making them face-less but contribute to “rape-culture” and “victim blaming” of women by normalizing this idea that men are “natural” harassers and are naturally unable to control their sexual urges in the sight of even a bit of female skin, even a female face! and men’s sexuality are put on women. It is women who must cover up not to be fallen victim to these natural sexual predators (ALL men) hence if a woman is raped or harassed it is her fault too because she was not covered enough! Even if there are men who may get sexually aroused by looking at my face, then THEY are sick , they must be confined and treated , why should my freedom be taken away because of them?

    Of course, if we teach boys and girls that good women are the ones who cover their faces and hairs and are modest (in this case modesty being covering your face and hair), then naturally the ones who don’t, are asking for it! Can you see the rape-culture and victim blaming here? It is not only a garment it is an elaborate BELIEF SYSTEM.

    In addition, The core claim of this ideology is UNTRUE. We see repeatedly how women fully covered in burqa and niqab still get harassed and raped by men. Just recently a video of such harassment in Saudi went viral and as a woman who lived a similar life my personal experience proves that ideology 100% wrong. I never get harassed in Canada even though I do not wear any form of hijab but there was not a day that I wasn’t cat called or harassed by men where I was born although I was fully covered in black.

    Any ideology that focuses on women’s clothing instead of fixing men’s perception of women is wrong and we must fight against it NO MATTER if there are women who submit to such cultures and ideologies.

    On the other hand, such ideology also portrays women’s sexuality as “unnatural” because it never instructs men to cover their hair and faces, it only instructs them to lower their gazes when they see women! as if women never get sexually provoked by looking at a gorgeous man. I know I do and many other women do! So, if women can have self-control, so can men. And most men DO.

    The harm associated to such garments are not as overt as the harm caused by FGM or slavery but the harm it causes is “clear enough” for the ones who are willing to see.

    4- I do not support the choice argument presented. I find it naive and very superficial. I never believe that women who willingly wear burqa have a genuine choice, I was once part of such societies and communities who teach such stuff to women. No human being would wear a black garment in the hot summer that limits her to such an extent if it is not for an ideological reason.people usually dress according to weather and season.

    If you listen to them, from the women that I personally know to the ones you see occasionally on different channels, they all say they wear it because of their religious beliefs. It is an expression of their faith as they say, They do not wear it because it is pretty or it is the latest fashion. they wear it because they think they need to wear it to be a better muslim.

    In fact, it is really hot and smelly under it, believe me , I have the experience! The women who say are willingly wearing it, are taught by radicals that they are a better muslim if they wear niqab and burqa, they are taught by radicals that to be seen as humans by men and not to be harassed by them they must be “modest” and in this case modesty is covering their face too.They are taught this is what God loves more and many other teachings, so they accept it While it is NOT really religious.

    It is not worn to merely show group identity either, so you cannot compare it to a yarmulke at all. what is the reason behind wearing this small round hat that is sometimes even difficult to see? Nothing but showing you are Jewish. what happens if you do not wear it? nothing. It does not limit your social interactions , it does not dehumanize you by deleting your face, you do not wear it not to be raped or harassed it does not cause any harm to you and if you do not wear it you are not sending any message to the opposite sex that you are asking for it. it only shows what your religion is and your identity and face is fully visible.

    It can not be equated with men’s beard either, because though it may be due to religious beliefs to grow beard as muslim men do, beard is not limiting men in any way,it is not objectifying men, it is not dehumanizing men, it is not harming muslim men in anyway, it is not a comparable situation at all, no one asks women to remove their make up or have make up on their face to be recognized in a citizenship ceremony.That could be equated with beard.

    Burqa and niqab are obviously a very different story. The funny thing about the application of neo-liberal definition of choice on this topic is that if my husband orders me to wear a burqa, I am abused. But if a patriarchal ideology or a patriarchal God or a misogynist imam tells me to do the exact same thing and I submit for any reason, it suddenly becomes my free choice and that imam or God or ideology is not abusive.

    In short if I self-oppress and self-objectify it is totally fine and we should be happy that I have willingly accepted my own oppression, we should all applaud me and all go home and live our own life and never care how the oppressive culture that I have willingly submitted to may affect others now and in the future and happily allow such cultures and practices stay ALIVE and well just because there are SOME people like me who do not have any problem with those cultures.

    If we think in this manner, then we should never abolish any wrong cultural practice because there are always people who have internalized them as normal way of life and practice them voluntarily out of ignorance, or coercion or indoctrination or just not wanting to change.

    liberation movements are not about mere choice.They are about fighting and destroying oppressive institutions. they are about changing cultures , abolishing inhumane cultural practices, no matter if there are people who voluntarily self-oppress due to MANY different reasons.

    So is the women’s liberation movement it is about fighting and destroying patriarchal institutions not about giving women a mere empty choice and call it a day!

    It is not about saying hey woman you are ok to be treated like a door mat? Ok! she says she is fine, she enjoys being treated like a door mat, who are you to outlaw treating women as a door mat? who are you to even say treating women as a door mat is wrong!! Stop your activism.

    Seeing the bigger picture, using an objective barometer to evaluate if a cultural practice is humane or not, is how all social changes have worked throughout the history. Not focusing on if 100% of the people subjected to those cultures are OK with it being changed or not!!! Of course there are always some who do not want those practices to be outlawed.

    That is the principle of all social activism to have a better society as a whole. Sorry not everyone can be satisfied. what is important is “humanity” and having a “humane” culture not ” satisfying all and every individual”. Many women have opposed different women’s rights movements. There are and were many women who willingly submit to patriarchy. Do we work against their favours by destroying patriarchal institutions and practices? yes we do. should we stop our activism because of them? No.

    some other Examples: slavery, human sacrifice, wife burning, etc.. I am not equating a piece of garment with slavery or human sacrifice at all, I am saying :

    “We abolish, ban and outlaw wrong inhumane cultures and beliefs IRRESPECTIVE of some people’s individual choices.”

    There were slaves fighting along side southerners against abolitionists. Did we stop abolition movement because some slaves apparently had no problem with it?

    We have a long history of people being sacrificed for a God and they did that proudly out of true faith, people even competed in contests to be sacrificed. But we abolished it because we evolved enough to see it was wrong and inhumane.

    Women were burned in India for generations with the dead body of their husbands and many did that willingly. did that stop India from outlawing this practice?

    Unfortunately, I can’t think of any practice that its harm is as “covert” as burqa and niqab. In all examples above there is serious physical harm involved so the harm is obvious but when it comes to burqa and niqab because they are pieces of garments, the harm is not as obvious but I hope I have been able to make you see my point.

    What I am talking about is banning a CULTURAL practice against women. Burqa and niqab are purely Sexist and misogynist cultural practices that we should all oppose to for gender-equality IRRESPECTIVE of a tiny fraction of women’s individual choices to adopt such practices.

    We should never accept one of the most anti-women garments in history on the very false ground of it being a “religious right” while it is not religious at all,

    We should not allow this piece of garment to get approval and provide the foreground for fundamentalists to persuade more muslim women and girls into wearing it as a religious garment just because there are a very small group of burqa wearing women who adopt it willingly for any reason. Supporting such tiny fraction of women to wear burqa, is not a liberal act at all, is an anti-women and pro-islamic radicals act.

    We should abolish these garments not only on the grounds of them being anti-women and purely misogynist but particularly on the grounds of them being a radical and extremist islamic practice that has nothing to do with islam at all. Let’s remember hundreds and thousands of women who may fall victim to it or are victim to it now and have no voice.

    self-obejctifying choice has nothing to do with social activism against misogynist practices we should not accpet just becasue there are some women who willingly self-objectify.

  6. Immigrant


    Of course it is about all women and specially all muslim women! Are you pretending or you just don’t know how society works and on the smaller scale how the shame based muslim community works?

    It is not about an individual muslim woman it is about “accepting niqab and burqa as a norm and as a valid interpretation of Quran/hadith” OR “not”!

    It is about approving a radical fundamentalist narrative of Islam or say no to it

    It is about approving a cultural misogynist practice or say no to it

    How do you think in the first place such garment is spreading rapidly in muslim communities with the rise of fundamentalism? How do you think in the UK alone since 1970s the number of burqa and niqab wearing women has increased so much?

    Do you think Muslim girls suddenly one day out of blue decide covering their hair is not enough and they have to add the face too?

    No, they are persuaded into it, they are taught it is the best form of modesty for muslim women by radical imams and they adopt it because they think it is a religious requirement.

    The majority of muslim women are furious of that and want this craziness to stop because it affects all muslim women,because this radical narrative believes and teaches that burqa and niqab are the BEST form of hijab for ALL MUSLIM WOMEN. It is dehumanizing our sisters and daughters, makes them face-less under the name of Islamic modesty and we object to it. We don’t want this to get legal approval.

    It also affects all other non-muslim women because it sends the message to all women that this is what we believe a woman must wear, this is how a woman must be dressed not to be harassed. It directly contributes to rape culture and victim blaming.

    Anyone not seeing that is either blind or just a clueless MAN!
    OR a supporter of Islamic fundamentalism with a mask of liberal who is against progressive muslims and progressive narratives of Islam.

    Based on your comments, I can bet you also support legalization of prostitution, have no objection to porn and the new phenomenon of camera girls. (I may be wrong of course.)

    I am sorry but to me this new form of mind twisting justification of all and every misogynist practice against women including niqab and burqa under the name of liberalism and freedom is nothing but a political movement to re-enforce the sub-human position of women and strengthen all patriarchal institutions.

    Supporters of such oppressive cultures and practices against women are no one but misogynists with a mask of liberal on their faces to make sure these practices stay alive and remain a part of our culture forever.

    After all, there are women who consent to all of those and all women must be free to consent to their sub-human status!!! All slaves must be free to consent to become a slave!!! Never try to ban or outlaw any form of slavery.

    1. Joe

      First, no I don’t hate women, but if you’re really accusing me of that, fuck you.

      >It is not about an individual muslim woman it is about “accepting niqab and burqa as a norm and as a valid interpretation of Quran/hadith” OR “not”!

      I don’t care if it meets anyone’s scriptural literalist interpretation of any made up book. I support the rights of Muslim heretics to believe that Mohammad had a Mohawk hairstyle and rode a flying pony. Freedom of religion is not about protecting orthodoxy. It’s about protecting minorities and individuals.

      >It is about approving a radical fundamentalist narrative of Islam or say no to it

      Bullshit. You have created a false dilemma. I support freedom of religion and conscience not Islam, not any interpretation thereof. I support democracy too, but I neither approve of communism or libertarianism. That is not how it works.

      >It is about approving a cultural misogynist practice or say no to it

      Again false dilemma.

      >Based on your comments, I can bet you also support legalization of prostitution, have no objection to porn and the new phenomenon of camera girls. (I may be wrong of course.)

      I support the idea of women having control over their own bodies. I support a woman’s right to abortion, to choose who and if to marry, I support a woman’s right to choose cosmetic surgery, and yes, I think prostitution should be legalized, regulated and taxed, both for men and women.

      I also support a woman’s right to wear high heel shoes, corsets, and get tattoos and piercings, and get off her ass drunk, all of which can be painful, and cause health problems. All of these things have a cultural component to them, all of these things are disapproved of by various groups, but in Canada we don’t let the narrow minded moralists limit our freedoms. We fight for our right to make stupid choices, because we are not children who need people like you to make our decisions for us.


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