From Bikinis to Burkinis, Regulating What Women Wear

What is it about women’s attire that over and over in history has attracted controversy and impelled societies to legislate or regulate women’s choices? Throughout history, a combination of legislation, local regulation and social pressure has influenced the way women have dressed—corsets and décolleté, hoop skirts and bustles, the controversial advent of pants. France is now a society demanding that women undress, but in many ways this debate is part of the same narrative. Professor Joan Wallach Scott sees France’s approbation of revealing swimwear, as well as the current burkini bans, as products of ideas going back to the French Revolution of 1789.

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