When will we stop policing women’s bodies?
Image via Twitter, Amy Clancy
Recently, in parts of France, police officers have been patrolling the beaches in an effort to enforce a “burkini ban.” Women covering up on the beach with headscarves and bodysuits can face hefty fines, highlighting the fact that this Islamophobic policy is more a kneejerk reaction to recent terrorist attacks than genuine concern for public safety.
Police have gone as far as forcing a woman to remove articles of clothing on the beach in front of strangers. These actions have led many to wonder how, in 2016, governments around the world still think it’s acceptable to police women’s bodies.
This suit is too big. This suit is too small. When will it be OK for women to wear what they want? #burkini https://t.co/fi1w4jwVy1— Christina Cerqueira (@Christina Cerqueira) 1471994311
One British illustrator, Amy Clancy, decided to expose the hypocrisy of the burkini ban specifically by drawing three women in different types of swimwear. On the left, you have a woman in a bikini and a bathing cap. In the middle, there’s a woman wearing just a wetsuit and no bathing cap, and on the right, you have a woman in a wetsuit and bathing cap. Ridiculously, only the woman on the right is breaking the law according to these new French policies.
The #BurkiniBan - 'C'est ridicule!' © Amy Clancy (@AmyClancyUK) https://t.co/yohgEJ6G2J— Amy Clancy (@Amy Clancy) 1472038825
Apparently, Amy Clancy drew the illustrations out of frustration after reading about a French official’s claim that burkinis defy “good morals and secularism.” In an interview with Mashable, Clancy said, “I like to represent ideas visually, and this clear example of double standards lent itself well to a very simple illustration. It was a small act of protest before I left for work. I only wish I had included a nun as well.”
Clancy isn’t the first artist to simplify a complicated issue so that we can see an injustice more clearly. After the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, several illustrators created images to reinforce the power of the written word.
Break one, thousand will rise #CharlieHebdo #JeSuisCharlie #raiseyourpencilforfreedom http://t.co/3n5fOEmrwJ— Lucille Clerc (@Lucille Clerc) 1420671322
In times of political unrest and unfairness, it becomes all the more important for artists to defend our right to self expression with clear encapsulations of our deepest frustrations.