Lynn writes, in her Reflections in D-minor:
Women who wear bikinis choose to do so. Women in Islamic countries who wear burkas or veils do so either because they literally have no choice or they feel that they have no choice.
I nearly agree with the veiling part (making an exception for black American Muslims), but how about headscarves? From what I’ve read on Egypt, I understand a quest for “Islamic roots” is largely an upper- and upper-middle-class phenomenon involving both men and women, so a woman wearing a headscarf is more of tradition-keeper. Even more interestingly, a group of Tatar women have recently petitioned Russia’s Constitutional Court to strike down the Police Ministry’s requirement that only photos depicting the bearers with an uncovered head be valid for ID documents. Tatars, both in and outside the Republic of Tatarstan, are traditionally Muslim; it is therefore noteworthy that before this case reached the Constitutional Court in Moscow, the women’s plea was turned down by Tatarstan’s top court.
I’m not familiar with the legal reasoning behind the ruling, but at least it is compatible with common sense. To alienate traditionally-minded Tatars would be a huge mistake and an injury to the nation’s unity. These days, ethnic conflicts should be avoided almost at any cost.
As for bikinis – yes, they – or rather the de-facto requirement that women wear a modern swimsuit on a beach – can be a problem, and a source of insecurities for million overweight or out-of-shape American women. But then, it’s one of life’s imperfections.