Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2011

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Women and Gender Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Deepti Misri

Abstract

The performative protests, NiqaBitch and Princess Hijab, mount opposition to France’s most recent legislation against veiling in the public sphere—the burqa ban that will go into effect on April 11, 2011. NiqaBitch explicitly confronts the justification provided by the French government that defers to the preservation of the republic and its foundational principles. In the viral video, the NiqaBitches strut around the streets of France in hot pants and niqabs. Their method “de-dramatizes” the debate, but also has the effect of generating a hyper-sexualized notion of the veil through which the veil may become palatable to French sensibilities. The sexualization of the veil is also where the protest gains radical import by disrupting the resistance/subordination binary through which Western feminists assess the lives of Other women. The graffiti of Princess Hijab also disrupts this model by inversion. She presents veiling as the privileged form of conduct and exposes the oppressiveness of Western capitalism and exhibitionism inherent in “open” gender systems. Her art expresses an anti-assimilation sentiment and a more essential interrogation of the status of the veil in French society.

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