This is our truth, tell us yours
When I was seventeen I bought a beautiful Lewis Leathers bike jacket.
I even had a motorbike.
My father said it made me look like a Hells Angel.
I bought it because it was cold on my bike, and I wanted to be safe. I didn’t wear a back patch, or a denim over-vest, but to my dad a biker jacket made me look like a Hells Angel.
Being someone who used to hang round biker pubs I knew what a Hells Angel really looked like, when they wore their colours. I knew, with certainty, why I wore a biker jacket. The two were not connected, not least because many of the Angels I knew either didn’t ride bikes very often, or didn’t wear their colours.
Do my classic test. Imagine a woman wearing a burqa, telling her dad that wearing a burqa doesn’t make her a Muslim fundamentalist. Imagine me, telling my dad that my leather jacket didn’t make me a Hells Angel.
Spot the difference.
Clothing only means what the person wearing it intends it to mean. Nothing more. If we want to make assumptions about what clothing means, we are prisoners of our own preconceptions. Nothing more. If you want to know what a burqa means, ask the woman wearing it. Politely, after parking your assumptions, your privileges and your preconceptions. Otherwise, much as I love him, you’re no better than my dad, and he’s a sexist arse with an undertone of racism that he does his best to suppress.