In lieu of the recent burkini ban taking place on over 30 French beaches beaches, cartoonist La Sauvage Jaune took to her art to exemplify just how hard it is to be a woman in today’s society. Pictured here, “La loterie de l’indécence” or “The Lottery of Indecency” depicts two women who couldn’t be contrasted more dramatically, but somehow still face the same persecutions.
On the left, we have a woman modestly dressed, covered from head to toe in cloth and lacking any signs of makeup. There are comments, presumably from the voice of society, that read, “You have a headscarf?! You’re clearly submissive.” Next, the cartoon addresses the burkini, a long sleeved and pants swimsuit invented so that Muslim women too could enjoy the beach while also respecting their religious beliefs. The comment there reads, “Burkini? A wetsuit, but there’s “burk” in it so it’s forbidden. Undress yourself.” As ridiculous as this comment sounds it is the saddening reality of these Muslim women’s lives.
After the harrowing attack in Nice this summer, racial tensions in France have been high, to say the least. Thierry Migoule, head of municipal services for the city was quoted by AFP as saying, “We are not talking about banning the wearing of religious symbols on the beach… but ostentatious clothing which refers to an allegiance to terrorist movements which are at war with us.” This echoes the controversial view thats been sweeping the world ever since ISIS came to power, the idea that those who follow the second most popular religion in the world, are therefore also joining along a terrorist movement.
As it was mentioned before, this isn’t the only type of women receiving demeaning commentary from today’s society. On the right, we have a woman who is topless, wearing makeup and a short skirt. The polar opposite of our first cartoon, but is still subject to vast criticism.
Chest bared, the cartoon now addresses the controversial topic of a woman’s nipples saying, “Oh my God! A woman’s nipples! Cover that up! You should be ashamed.” The free the nipple movement has been underway for awhile now, and it has become much more than simply women wanting to walk around topless. At its forefront, the movement tackles the double standard between the male and female gender. Men are free to walk around shirtless, legally, in every state. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TV programs are all allowed to show a man’s nipple. Women who have shared beautiful photos of themselves breastfeeding their newborns have received a substantial amount of criticism, and some have even found their pictures deleted and accounts suspended. Why is a woman’s body seen as less than, or more “damaging to society” when compared to a mans? That’s what the free the nipple movement has been trying to figure out.
“Short skirt? Too many sexual connotations. Don’t be surprised if you’re raped,” reads the comment pointing to the short skirt worn by the cartoon. This idea that somehow it is a woman’s outfit that led her to be sexually assaulted is not only extremely demeaning but also very dangerous. Women are taught about their BAC levels and how drinking too much can lead to sexual assault, told not to dress too provocatively because they might “entice” a man and are even told that sometimes not verbalizing “no” is consent. It is on the woman to not be raped, but not on the man not to rape.
Pointing to her face, the comments are now tackling the view on makeup stating, “You look like a whore with your makeup. If you’re not wearing makeup, you’re neglecting yourself.” This cartoon is translated from its original french, but if you’re confused by the contradictory nature of the sentences, it’s not due to a translational fault.
The nature of the cartoon is to prove just that, that the logic between what society disapproves and approves of is one big contradiction. It is a lottery that is almost impossible to win.