Female Autonomy, Education and the Hijab
Author: Laborde, Cécile
Source: Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Volume 9, Number 3, September 2006 , pp. 351-377(27)
Abstract:This essay discusses one of the motives behind the recent ban on the wearing of Muslim headscarves (hijab 1 ) in French schools: the belief that it assists the emancipation of Muslim girls from religious and patriarchal oppression. 2 The first section sets out a republican perfectionist case for the ban, based on Enlightenment assumptions about progressive secular rationalism, education to autonomy, and criticism of the pre‐modern, patriarchal nature of Islam. The second section mounts a critical response, which rejects republican paternalism and connects insights from the post‐modern sociology of religion with radical feminist theories of female agency. In the third section, I show that both arguments, even on the most sympathetic interpretation I present here, are flawed. I argue that although the ban on the hijab cannot be justified, republicans are right to worry about the dangers of domination in civil society. I then set out a ‘critical republican' theory of non‐domination which avoids the pitfalls of coercive paternalism without, however, leaving individuals unaided in the face of domination.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Political Science, University College London, London, UK
Publication date: September 2006