Thursday, August 13, 2009

On Getting Chucked from a French Swimming Pool

French Muslims are back in the news:

French pool bars Muslim woman for 'burquini' suit

A Muslim woman garbed in a head-to-toe swimsuit _ dubbed a "burquini" _ may have opened a new chapter in France's tussle between religious practices and its stern secular code.

Officials insisted Wednesday they banned the woman's use of the Islam-friendly suit at a local pool because of France's pool hygiene standards _ not out of hostility to overtly Muslim garb.

Under the policy, swimmers are not allowed in pools with baggy clothing, including surfer-style shorts. Only figure-hugging suits are permitted.

That's true. I went to the public (i.e. non-hotel) swimming pool in Istres ten years ago. I came out of the changing stall (they didn't have changing rooms, only stalls) wearing American style trunks. I think I had barely got my feet wet when a lovely French girl [sigh] lifeguard came over to chat. She figured out pretty quickly that I was American, and in broken English told me that street clothes were not permitted in the pool. I tugged out the edge of the lining to show that it was a swimsuit, but she pointed to the speedos that the other male swimmers were wearing and indicated that this was what was expected. She told me -- and this is a direct quote -- "some French men are . . . dirt?"

"Um . . . do you mean 'dirty'?" I offered helpfully.

She then went looking to see if they had any swimsuits in the lost and found that I could wear. Yeah, kinda personal, but I was a hardcore swimmer back then, and I counted on the chlorinated water killing anything, you know, dirty.


Brandon Berg said...

You're forgetting Sharpton's razor: Until it can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that an action is not motivated by racism, no other explanation need be considered.

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