The Burqini Ban exposes the hypocrisy of the “Secular” French State

Burkini

Photograph: Franck Pennant/AFP/Getty (The Guardian Online)

Sara Khan

This month – while the Scottish have officially allowed the hijab to be worn as part of police uniform – French politicians have given us a clear demonstration of what constitutes liberté, égalité, fraternité. In a nutshell, women are liberated only when armed white men patrol their beaches, dictating what they should and should not wear. Of course, it’s only oppression when brown men are doing it.

Never mind that an estimated 40% of burqini wearers are non-Muslim (see Nigella Lawson, who wears one in order to protect her skin). Never mind that white French women are allowed to wear full body wetsuits and swim caps – you know, covering exactly the same parts of their body as a burqini, save maybe a bit of neck – without being forced to strip. The important thing here is the word: burqini. Bring an Arabic word into it and suddenly it’s evil. By definition, the term burqa simply denotes a loose garment covering the body from head to foot; it is not mentioned in the Qu’ran even once. In several countries, such as Saudi Arabia, women are forced to wear these, and that is wrong – whether or not a woman wears a burqa should be her choice, her decision to express her modesty and her faith in a certain way – but it is equally wrong to prohibit them from doing so. Women can only reclaim their bodies when they are able to choose how to do it. Remember, while burqinis provoke terrorism, short skirts and tight dresses provoke rape. Either way, women’s clothing is inevitably the reason for appalling and immoral actions committed by men; it’s not like men have agency over themselves or should be held responsible for their own actions.

The French public have shown overwhelming support for the outright racism and sexism of these politicians. Mathilde Cousin, a witness to the incident at Nice, said that “the saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, and some were applauding the police.” According to an Ifop survey, 64% of French people are in favour of the burqini bans, while another 30% are indifferent. That’s 94% of French people suffering from either active or internalised racism, Islamophobia and sexism. And it is extremely important to note that this figure includes women. That’s an overwhelming number of white “feminists” supporting the bans (because the liberation of women only counts when in accordance with Western ideals).

French politicians keep saying that the burqini opposes secular French values. Since when did secularism translate into “the authoritarian imposition of atheism”? If secularism is about the separation of the state from the influence of religious organisations – which it is – then it does not entail the suppression of religious expression. Secularism is about taking an unbiased standpoint; it’s about protecting people from being imposed upon. When practiced correctly, it should entail the elimination of discrimination on the basis of religion, and it should protect the rights of religious minorities. Looks like it’s actually the French authorities whose actions are flying in the face of secular values.

Aheda Zanetti, who designed the burqini, recounts how when she was growing up, her hijab made it difficult to participate in sport. She remembers being afraid to go outside and to socialise because of rampant Islamophobic attitudes in the English-speaking world. She created the burqini – along with other sportswear for Muslim women – to give them the freedom to engage in a range of activities, to integrate and to be accepted. In denying the burqini, the French have shown that they are not interested in the rights of Muslim women, or of any women, really. The burqini ban defines Frenchness by whiteness, and it defines womanhood by sexuality. Consumer culture relentlessly commodifies women’s bodies, and women who choose to cover themselves are perhaps the most threatening of all, as they radically refuse to be defined by patriarchal, capitalist trajectories.

Unfortunately, these bans are only one manifestation of a terrifying trend. In France, Marie Le Pen and her racist Front National continues to rise, while in the lead up to next year’s election, Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that as president he would extend the ban on the hijab to universities, restrict access to benefits for women who repeatedly violate the burqa ban, and scrap laws authorising immigrants to be reunited with their families. Elsewhere, Donald Trump rallies vast numbers of white Americans against the immigrant population, and Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson have successfully lead us towards Brexit, resulting in exponential rises in xenophobic abuse. Racism and fascism are spreading, and they are spreading fast.

The world that many French, American and British politicians would have us live in is steeped in hatred, bigotry and fear. In particular, the claim that the burqini bans have been made in the name of counter-terrorism is completely farcical. The Nice ban specifically references the Bastille Day attack last month, but completely fails to mention that 84 of its victims were Muslim; the mayor of Cannes has said that burqinis refer to an allegiance to terrorist groups (because Islamist organisations are known for encouraging women to bathe in form-fitting swimwear on mixed gender public beaches). By pitting us against each other, the people that spread these lies hope to divide and conquer.

As ever, it is wonderful to see that the French authorities have their priorities in order. Instead of focusing on resolving the socioeconomic issues that affect migrants and that may predispose them to harbour negative feelings towards the state, they choose to aggravate the situation by alienating them further and making them more vulnerable to recruitment by extremists. Today, the French High Court suspended the burqini ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet, and this does bode well; the ban may soon be suspended in other towns across the country. State-sanctioned Islamophobia, racism and sexism are still alive and well in France, however, and we have not heard the last of Sarkozy, Le Pen, or Manuel Valls. When Islamist organisations next strike, remember to blame the government.

Sara Khan

 

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Advice on Anal Sex: How I Like it Up the Bum

Photo Credit: The Street Where I Live

Anonymous

Before I begin sharing my anal discovery, I would like to express that all of my advice is from my personal experience as a heterosexual female. That being said, however, I feel like men’s bums can’t be so different and so hopefully this will be helpful to anyone interested in “doing it up the bum”. It’s also important to mention that of course anal sex is not for everyone – this is my personal experience.

During my teenage years of sexual discovery I was up for bonking in various positions, however, anal was a far cry from anything I would try. This  dismissal of anal sex was affirmed whilst watching Jaime Winstone in Kidulthood proclaiming “you can put it in my arse as well, it hurts, but I don’t mind”. Unsurprisingly I was firmly put off, and to be honest, satisfied with my more conventional forms of vaginal penetration. This quote by Winstone solidified my misconception that heterosexual anal sex was a male fantasy that women endured to please their sexual partners. Aside from this assumption, myself and many of my female friends feared what was deemed to be complete humiliation – shitting on your fella’s dick, or equally as worrying, a bleeding bum hole. Surely a bleeding bum hole couldn’t be worth the pleasure anal might bring? How wrong I was!

After leaving home, I set out on my path to anal enlightenment. I met a gay guy in my university halls to whom I’m forever indebted for helping to challenge my preconceptions by sharing his personal experiences as well as leading me to a very informative YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83lo7OqruJI) that guides you through the dos and don’ts of anal. Unfortunately my boyfriend at the time had a penis with the girth of a tree trunk which hardly fit into my vagina let alone my arsehole. After a single attempt to see “if it would fit”, I was confronted with an almighty shock – no, it did not fit. It could hardly pass the entrance to my anus. Tears streamed down my face whilst I desperately clung onto my tensed bum cheeks, my body convulsed across the bed as I moaned in agony. This really is no understatement of the pain I was in – it was unlike any log poo, it was searing pain in my arse. My then boyfriend lay there awkwardly wondering what to do or say. As you can imagine that was the only and last time we tried it. (I am giving you this graphic detail to warn those who copulate with a male whose penis is particularly large – be careful!)

My next sexual partner was casual – an older man with a little willy who knew how to use it! We spent our time together exploring the many wonders of sexual expression: domination, submission, role play, pain, pleasure and – you guessed it – anal. It was far less traumatic or even eventful as my previous experience of anal. When we tried anal, the small size of his penis and the excitement of sleeping with someone who was so compatible with my sexual expression overshadowed the actual act of anal penetration. It also didn’t last long enough for me to really gage how it felt. It was a success in the fact that his penis repeatedly entered my arsehole without a shock of agony, however, not much time was spent discovering the beauty that can be discovered during a loving session of anal play and so I was left with little to say on the experience. Despite the somewhat disappointing result, it proved to me that anal didn’t have to be an endurance test and could in fact be a fun addition to my sex life. 

Some years later, I met my current boyfriend who has a far more reasonably sized penis than the mammoth dick that first entered my arse. It in fact slides with ease into my back side with the help of a little lube (I use ‘Yes’ lube, it’s good for the body and the world).

How did I come round to having anal with my current partner? We had vaguely toyed with the idea and during a particularly curious evening one thing led to another and before I knew it, we were bonking up the bum. Was it what I expected and was it painful? No to both. It was far better than I expected and surprisingly there was not even the slightest bit of discomfort. The comfort and trust that I have with my current partner meant that not only was I relaxed when we first had anal, but also he understood that I needed to be in control in order for it to be pleasurable and, quite frankly, for it to work. The bum hole is so sensitive that sudden movements at the wrong time can be painful, this is not to say that the person penetrating can’t change speed of their own accord, but what it does mean is that there needs to be communication between both parties.

Since enjoying the new-found pleasures of my bum hole, anal play is a common activity in our sex life. Not only is anal sex quite an exciting alternative to vaginal sex, it also FEELS AMAZING! I have personally found that I can reach a far more intense state of pleasure at a greater speed than with vaginal sex. This discovery was a particularly important element to my journey to anal enlightenment as it obliterated my original doubts surrounding anal, and the idea that anal meant enduring pain in order to please a man. 

After realising the beauty of the bum, my partner and I have invested in some rather valuable sex toys, which include both anal beads and a trusty butt plug. A quick note on these toys: when it comes to anal beads, the insertion of the beads into the anus is quite a struggle. To uphold a straight face whilst you feed silicon balls into your partner’s rather tight, hairy bum hole is definitely character building, but not in my eyes particularly sexy. After this insertion, the toy will be hugged by the walls of your anus, and the delights that follow make the awkward insertion incredibly worthwhile. I should add that you get better over time, and eventually sliding a toy up your bum becomes second nature. The beauty of sex toys is that it enables you to do more things at once. The combination of vaginal sex, anal penetration and external clitoral stimulation might seem greedy but oh my god, it’s amazing! Be prepared to feel things you’ve never experienced before! The orgasms that I reach with anal play tend to be far greater than most climaxes achieved through vaginal sex alone, and I orgasm far quicker than with vaginal sex. The culmination of increased stimulation during sex, heightened pleasure and more immediate orgasms has meant that doing it up the bum has revolutionised my sex life.

My top anal tips:

  • Before any penetration, apply lube to both your anus and the penis or toy.
  • I would advise starting with a finger just to get used to the sensation of anal penetration and slowly building up to penetration with a toy/penis.
  • Try not to think about it before and during, if you over think it your bum can become tight. Relaxing and feeling comfortable are key.
  • Make sure that you are really turned on and relaxed.
  • It sounds counterintuitive, but relaxing your anus actually involves slightly pushing out (as if you’re about to go to the toilet) – this makes penetrating your anus far easier.
  • Whoever is penetrating you should know that the speed of penetration needs to be on your terms, this is in their interest too, as the whole experience will be far more satisfactory if you’re in control!
  • Start super slow, speed up in your own comfort. If it is uncomfortable at first stay still, concentrate on your breathing, apply more lube and remember that you’re in control. If it hurts do not feel pressured to continue.
  • Stimulate your clitoris (either yourself or have your partner do so).
  • My favourite position is “doggy style” as in some other positions it can feel like all your organs are smushed together. It is also easier to control the penetration by moving back and forth yourself instead of your partner doing so.

What to expect:

  • If it feels extremely painful straight away, slowly pull away.
  • It might feel like you’re going to cum immediately, especially if your clitoris is simultaneously stimulated!
  • If you cum and your partner wants to carry on until they cum, be warned it can be uncomfortable and I would advise that your partner cums in an alternative way.
  • NEVER DOUBLE DIP, you will get thrush or spread bad bacteria, which you will regret. Only go from anal to vaginal sex if you are using condoms.
  • If they do cum inside your bum, you will need to go to the toilet afterwards, expect to fart out shitty cum, no joke, not cute, but it’s worth it 😉
  • Your bum hole may be quite stretched, expect some strange poos afterwards and also noiseless farts, like wind down an alley.
  • Be gentle and don’t overdo it – your bum hole is very sensitive!
  • If you have a penis and you’re penetrating a vagina whilst a sex toy is inserted into the woman’s bum hole, you might feel it through the vaginal wall, I hear that this is nice but I suppose you can only find that out for yourself.

I would have liked to further express the pleasures felt during anal play but I worry that I would get carried away and this casual article could quickly turn into a clit flick. 

Just as a final note on my personal experiences with anal play from a woman’s perspective:  the muscles react with your mental thoughts and feelings in a strong way. With this in mind, for you to reach anal ecstasy you must listen to your mind and body and guide your partner to engage with your body in whatever way feels right for you.

Please share and discuss the insights that hopefully you have gained whilst reading this piece, spread the word and stay safe folks.

Anonymous