Quoted: A Conversation Between a Burqa and a Bikini

Bikink and Burqa

BIKINI
You’re weird.
BURQA
I think you’re pathetic.
BIKINI
I think YOU are oppressed.
BURQA
You call this oppression, I call this my liberation.
BIKINI
Haven’t you ever worn a bikini? Not just once? Aren’t you curious what it feels like to be almost naked, standing on the beach and having all these guys look at you like they want to eat you-
BURQA
I’ve never even shown my hair in public.
BIKINI
Why not?
BURQA
I believe in modesty. I do what my Lord tells me to. It’s in my religion to tell me to cover my jewel.
BIKINI
That’s great but I don’t care about religion or God. I do what I want and you’re not going to tell me to cover my own jewel.

BURQA
I’m not trying to tell you to wear a burqa. If you’re gonna wear a bikini, I want to wear my burqa.
BIKINI
I just don’t want anyone to force me to wear a burqa. I like my right to wear a bikini!
BURQA
That’s why I love being in this country. I can wear what I want. But when I wear this, people call me a terrorist and they say I shouldn’t be allowed to wear it. Yet I thought we have freedom of expression here.
BIKINI
How is wearing a burqa considered freedom of expression?
BURQA
Freedom of expression means- the freedom to express yourself. In any style of manner.
BIKINI
I haven’t thought about it that way.
BURQA
Your bikini is your expression of being free. My burqa is my expression of devotion to Allah.
BIKINI
Well, I suppose that’s a good point.
BURQA
I will never wear a bikini and I think you’re better than wearing that awful bikini, but I’m not going to look down at you.
BIKINI
I-I sort of looked down at you. I assumed you were weak- helpless and oppressed. But you’ve got a loud mouth and you won’t shut up.
(she laughs)
BURQA
That’s what everyone thinks.
BIKINI
But it’s not different when I wear a bikini. Lots of guys and even some females assume that I’m just some stupid bimbo, too.
BURQA
Don’t a lot of males think that way about females, no matter how they dress, though?
BIKINI
Yeah, probably.
(beat)
BURQA
Sometimes I hate being female.
BIKINI
Why?
BURQA
There’s no way to win.

—Excerpt from “Burqa and Bikini (Two Babes in a Bicker)”, a 10 minute stage play written by Sabina England, originally published at The American Dream is Dead…

Latoya’s Note: I came across this piece after being frustrated after writing this post for Jezebel, and watching the conversation default into the same lazy spiral. Some people didn’t even bother to engage with what I wrote, instead defaulting immediately to voicing their assumptions about women who cover. As a non-Muslimah, this irks me. I can only imagine what Muslimahs feel when people continually talk past them, ignoring their words and stubbornly holding on to their pre-existing ideas. The play, in full, does a wonderful job increasing the complexity of each character and hashing out a lot of the issues that surface within these types of conversations. Oh, and I should mention – most of you know Sabina by her screen name: Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist.

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