Air France decides it’s okay to insult women

April 3, 2016 • 1:00 pm

by Grania

Air France is in the middle of a row with their staff members after instructing female crew members to cover their heads and wear loose jackets and trousers when they travel to Iran. Staff point out that it is against French law to require them to wear “ostentatious religious symbols”.

Air France’s response to their objections can crudely be summarised as this:

That’s nothing, just wait until you see what we make our female staff wear when they go to Saudi Arabia.

The staff are not objecting to wearing head coverings while out of uniform in Iran, but object to it being made a part of their uniform.

This is yet another example of the grossly insulting “respect” shown to totalitarian and misogynistic regimes in the name of religion. Worse, it shows very clearly that when the dignity of actual women is measured against respecting religion; religion wins every time, even in the secular West, even in liberal countries, even places where women ought to be safe from the dictates of fanatical parochial conservative males.

Not only does this sort of mealy-mouthed appeasement of ridiculous and misogynistic dress codes betray Western women; it also insults the women and men of Iran who campaign against the hijab and similar suffocating and illiberal laws.

Here’s a thought-exercise for those of you who might be thinking that maybe this isn’t something worth protesting.

If the southern states of the USA still practised slavery, how palatable would you find it if multinationals required black staff members to wear special garments if they traveled to those regions so as not to offend the status quo?

I’m guessing you would think that repulsive and outrageous; and you would be right.

It may seem a little extreme of an example, and yes, it is. It isn’t a perfect analogy. But why is it always the dignity and self-determination of women that is expected to take a back seat when secularism meets Islam or any other ultra-conservative religion?

Whether we are talking about segregation of sexes at gatherings, absurdly archaic dress codes, seating arrangements on airplanes or prohibition of women from entering certain premises; religion is allowed to trump equality even in countries which claim to champion women’s rights. It’s morally reprehensible, and in many cases it is actually illegal. But it won’t go away until companies and organisations realise that they are better off siding with women than with regressive religions. And that is not going to happen until people complain bitterly and publicly every time this sort of thing happens.




58 thoughts on “Air France decides it’s okay to insult women

  1. This is unsurprising. Globalists send the message constantly that gender equality is a negotiable value, while being almost theatrically antiracist:

    The hijab isn’t a symbol of shaming and inhibiting a woman’s body, one women ‘choose’ after years of indoctrination, but is an enriching jewel of “diversity.” Any one who says otherise is gross and racist, like these stewardesses.

    1. If the hijab isn’t a symbol of shaming and inhibiting a woman’s body then why are the women of these countries fighting to get OUT of them? To say that covering yourself is enriching or that’s its racist or immoral to wander around without being covered is idiotic at best stupid at worst. My gender is irrelevant, I’m a person and I choose what I want to wear or not wear as I see fit and I will be damned if someone is going to tell me what I can or cannot wear. I’ll also be damned if someone is going to tell me where I can sit or what I can do just because of my gender. My gender doesn’t define who I am, it is a part of me, but not the entirety of me. Anybody has a problem with my gender, it’s their problem not mine. I have no use for anyone’s religion. Keep it to yourself if you want to believe in crap that’s also your problem. But DO NOT EVER think of foisting that stupidity off on me and DON’T EVER demand me to give in to your ignorance, I guarantee a fight will ensue, while these days I use words, but not always. I am insulted and offended that someone would dare demand I change who I am because of my gender, if you don’t like my gender or what I’m wearing, again your problem not mine. To anyone who thinks treating women as property or as less than who and what they are, they are fools (I include women in this as well). The hijab and burka are nothing but the uniform of a slave, dictated by small, tiny, fearful, cowardly mere males. Deal with it!

  2. You are right. In general, the irony appears to be this: the more liberal a person or society, the more prone they will be to allowing others to have things their way.
    More specifically, misogyny is not dead; in fact, it is not even dying. It simply has changed its appearance in Western countries, but subtle misogyny is still misogyny, and nothing will make it go away except an actual change of mind, not of phrasing.
    This is not say, of course – and sadly so –, that direct and open misogyny has lost its appeal to some people. While most people now talk misogyny as well as racism casually, there are still enough of those who proclaim and practise it, especially on the internet, as though it were truth written in stone.
    I always imagine progress as one horse dragging a heavy cart, while people gather behind the cart in order to slow its movement down even more, even in the hopes of pulling it backwards. May they never succeed (again – yes, I am looking at you, Christianity).

    1. “It’s not misogyny, I just think that you should never leave the house and if you do, cover yourself up. If you refuse to do this you are a racist and immoral woman. What do you have against these poor oppressed Islamists that you can’t accommodate them? They are more oppressed than you, and covering your hair won’t hurt anyone. In fact, as long as you refuse, you are hurting the feelz of these poor Islamist. Think about someone other than yourself for a change!”

      1. Nicely put. For politically correct – that is: false – people, religion takes a mysteriously elevated position, while secular people just view the fantasies and delusions for that which they are. Unfortunately, the former will adopt the vocabulary of the latter without even understanding it and thus produce even more nonsense.

      2. Oh and you should feel lucky that we let you go out at all! Stop being so dramatic! We are only doing this for your protection.

  3. Next, perhaps, Iran will require that flights be segregated by sex. The only real answer to this is probably for Air France to stop flying to Iran.

    1. “answer to this is probably for Air France to stop flying to Iran.”

      But where’s the money in that?

  4. I’ve always thought than when islamic men want to fly commercial without having to risk touching a woman, they should be made to buy the whole row of seats and sit in the middle one – maybe with a request for male servers, like requesting a kosher meal. Then the airline can be fair to their other passengers, not have to ask them to move, not have to delay flights while special arrangements are made, etc. Definitely do not require stewardesses to cover their heads with coverings not of their own choosing-religion-fashion sense at their secular jobsite. If islamic men don’t want to see women’s bare heads, they can travel with their eyes bound and pay for secular handlers to shuttle them around. Their choices should be their problem.

    1. Your suggestion of bound eyes is very logical and reasonable. The extra seat purchases aren’t bad, either. If only they would catch on. Imagine, instead of women in Iran and areas under ISIS control being forced to wear whatever, they could wear whatever they want, including Godiva-style birthday suits, while men required escorts so they could safely keep their eyes covered and their libidos equally restrained.

  5. This is an issue of relativism, which, IMO, is a way of thinking that values nothing except itself. Which is not to say relativists don’t have other values, but that their willingness toward relativism *can* displace things like equal rights.

    The fix is that certain rights need to be internalized by people — for instance, no individual should be seen as inherently secondary to others.

  6. If head coverings are merely a choice.. A sign of religious devotion, then why force it on Western women?

    And I believe that the excuse that was made in Cologne was that the women had it coming because they were not behaving like good Muslim girls. They were out and about, uncovered.

    So spare us the cultural relativism, regressive lefties.

  7. …it shows very clearly that when the dignity of actual women is measured against respecting religion; religion wins every time, even in the secular West, even in liberal countries, even places where women ought to be safe from the dictates of fanatical parochial conservative males.

    Nicely put. I’ve attempted to argue much the same here.

    I have a solution: if indeed Iran doesn’t like the female airline workers to wear Western clothes that so offend them, the airline stops flying to Iran. Of course, that would never happen. They wouldn’t want to lose money to support women.

    1. Exactly. As Grania also said, it always seems to be women who have to put their equality on the back burner and if they don’t, they’re failing to compromise.

      1. Exactly. As Grania also said, it always seems to be women who have to put their equality on the back burner and if they don’t, they’re failing to compromise.

        And if they don’t they are some kind of bigot.

        It is distressing to see modern feminists tripping all over themselves to appease those who they perceive to be suffering from greater oppression. I do wonder if this attitude is at all influenced by female socialization – women should aim to please, etc.

        Though as I pointed out in a past comment, virtue signalling is easy when it isn’t your own arse on the line. Their attitudes might change if they are the ones on the firing line, so to say.

        And these modern feminists do go on about the evils of the white capitalist patriarchy, yet, they will grovel before one of their supposed oppressors – a white, cishet male – as he explains to them that they are terribad people for being somewhat critical of unchecked Muslim immigration.


    1. “Religion poisons everything, as Hitchens noted”

      Hitchens was a polemicist.

      I enjoyed “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything ” but it is not, in fact, true. Religion merely poisons a *lot of things*. For those of us who are not the talented Christopher Hitchens I think making overbroad claims diminishes the credibility of our arguments.

      1. It is not overboard to generally damn religion, a celebration of and devotion to false models of the world that lead mostly to bad ideas, as anyone would expect.

        The good that comes from it is purely accidental and small compared to what would be inspired by a devotion to truth instead.

        Down with religion!

        1. Indeed. Believing things on the basis of faith NEVER leads one to the truth. I am definitely in the camp of “religion poisons everything”. There is really nothing I can think of that religion can provide which can’t be obtained without it. It must be destroyed.

      2. I think Hitchens’ point should be taken as that religion, where it is deeply embedded, is always at least a background factor in politics and social discourse. It casts a dark cloud over the affairs of people in society in subtle if not direct ways. If any social event or act of government occurs, there will be many who’s judgement on the issue will be swayed by religious belief. It is not that everything is controlled directly by the church. It is enough that most people take into account religious influence, even if it is a subtle bias. In the U.S. we have a situation in which religion is privileged by almost every institution and, indeed, most individuals. When two candidates compete, the religious one will prevail against the atheist, etc. This is what he must mean by “everything”.

      3. Scote, it would be worth coming up with an example of something it doesn’t poison — by which I understand, something that isn’t made worse by the effect of religion than it would otherwise be. I admit I’m stumped. Perhaps you can do better?

  8. “Whether we are talking about segregation of sexes at gatherings, absurdly archaic dress codes, seating arrangements on airplanes or prohibition of women from entering certain premises; religion is allowed to trump equality even in countries which claim to champion women’s rights. It’s morally reprehensible, and in many cases it is actually illegal. But it isn’t going away until companies and organisations realize that they are better off siding with women than regressive religions. And that is not going to happen until people complain bitterly and publicly every time this sort of thing happens”.

    The above offences are only a very small fragment of the sickness perpetrated in the names of gods and religion. Until all rational people realize all belief in religion is harmful to all men, women, and children everywhere and to the very life of our planet and also realize religious sympathizers are as guilty as as the believers themselves the insanity will be perpetuated.
    Much of the support for these practices comes from the sociapathic rich-pig profiteers of the capitalist economic systems, and their political cohorts, cronies and fellow travelers, who are as insane as the religionists themselves.

  9. Would it not be the same thing to say to the Iranian female crew – When you get off the plane in France, loose the head covering.

    What are the chances that will happen?

    France or the Air France management need a lesson in – how to find a backbone. And maybe a little respect for their own employees.

    1. From the relatively few Iranian women I have met they would be more than happy to lose the head covering – and probably do.
      I suspect however that it won’t become official airline policy!

  10. How about that we just consider the Air France stance as just pure unadulterated cowardice in the face of possibly offending Islamic sensitivity just like covering the statues in the Louvre.
    By the way this is the same cowardice exhibited by the newspaper empires when they all refused to publish the Danish cartoons.
    As Douglas Murray stated “we should all have taken to the streets carrying cartoons”
    It is a lot easier to offend the Air France female flight crew then grow some b****s and state enough is enough.
    Where are the Air France labour unions in this situation?
    Oh dear but then of course Iran might cancel its orders for all those Airbus aircraft they have ordered. I don’t think so! Where else are they going to buy? Boeing?
    It is time we all stood up to this constant dilution of our liberty. It is not just the Islamic world who can excell at pandemonium.

  11. The stewardesses should count their blessings. When they arrive in Iran were they not just in an enclosure with men not their family? Possiby even speaking to them? Perhaps in deference to local customs the stewardesses should just be stoned. Women passengers too, unless suitably garbed and carrying a permission slip from their male guardian. It’s about respect. Respect.

  12. They must have Iran confused with some other state. Unfortunately in some states not doing as the locals do is begging for trouble – but in those states doing as the locals do won’t necessarily help either since there is a dominant attitude of “they are not one of us so they are less than animals”.

  13. Sorry for the length.

    “When in Rome…”

    About a year before the Arab Spring, I was part of a Stanford Alumni Assn trip to the Arabian peninsula. The plan was to go to Yemen, then board a super-fancy French sailing ship and sail up the Red Sea, stopping at Jiddah, ending up in Sharm El-Sheikh. Our women were required to wear hijabs and cover their hair. Stanford furnished the garb, minimal possible, cheepo hijabs.

    Arriving in Sanaa, we climbed onto our bus. In front of us was a jeep with five soldiers with AK-47s. Behind us was another jeep with five soldiers with AK-47s. Behind that was another bus, empty except for the driver and his helper, just in case.

    Our local guide was Australian. Our Yemen travel ground crew included a New Zealander protector who was in easy phone contact with his team. And he checked in often.

    Pointing out the jeeps, our ground guide announced that this would probably be the last trip that we would be able to make to Yemen. He was right. In addition:

    “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that our French sailing ship was hijacked by Somali pirates. The good news is, we’re not on it.”

    The French were pissed. The next day, watching TV news in our hotel, we saw through a TV camera in a helicopter the helicopter chasing and shooting at some guys running through the desert flora. They caught two and took them back to France. The others didn’t make it. Our hijacked French ship managed to hide their female crew members. They remained safe.

    Stanford scrambled to reorganize our trip: flying instead of sailing. In our view, it turned out to be better than the original plan. (I’ve sailed between California and Hawaii three times on a 30 ft. boat. I was really looking forward to the Red Sea sail, but….)

    Our women wore their necessary hijabs, and grumbled about it. We men had no such adjustments to make.

    In Jiddah, six of our women went out together and bought more stylish, embroidered hijabs and hair covers. “If we gotta wear this damn thing, let’s look good,” they said. One of our guys even bought a male robe and head piece and modeled it with his appropriately re-covered wife.

    In Saudi, we had no jeep with guns. Instead it was one cop in a car making sure we didn’t take picture of our bus and other innocuous things. We got to a camel fair and to Riyadh. Some Stanford alums are from the royal family, so we were invited inside the Majlis, King’s Counsel, which was in session. We were recognized from the floor, and we got great pictures there.

    We never made it to Sharm El-Sheikh. Instead we flew into Amman, Jordan. Off the plane and off with the garb! Some hijabs went flying up in the air accompanied by shouts of joy. Free at last!

    A year later I went on another Stanford trip to Morocco. No hijab required. We did get a private show on female clothing. Our women got to try on and show off various Muslim female garb for various occasions. On the street, I didn’t see many hijabs or head coverings, nor in Turkey nor in Egypt. Maybe it was the major streets we were on, surrounded by fellow tourists.

    My Arabic teacher was a grad student from Morocco. She said she felt quite comfortable wearing a Muslim scarf. She never did that I saw, in or out of class.

    For an interesting western response: see: Elif Batuman, Personal history cover story, “The head scarf, modern Turkey, and me,” The New Yorker, Feb. 8 & 15, 2016, pp. 42-48.

    In our own cities — I live in Honolulu — we now sometimes see Muslim garb on our streets and in the supermarket. It is their culture that they carry around with them. I see no reason to restrict that.

    Next time you see women dressed in what looks like Muslim style with head piece, stop and examine your own emotional response. It may reveal one of your own culture’s biases.

    1. Can you clarify what your point was in telling this story? Are you implying Grania is culturally biased in taking offence at Air France forcing their female, Western, non Muslim employees to where a hijab?

      1. Whatever the point is and just like you Diana I am damned if I know,it still remains a fact that it’s men, yes let’s just repeat this, MEN who require woman to cover up.

        1. As I’ve warned before, don’t let women off the hook. Men may have come up with the idea, but women enforce it upon each other stricken and probably more successfully than men. Women can be their own worst enemies.

        2. I agree with Diana. Women are instrumental to the enforcement of misogyny. Anthropologists studying FGM have found women are its most ardent proponents, so much so educated husbands who forbid the practice have found themselves defied.

          1. The more traditional the society the more women’s path to status (for most women except an elite and only if that elite is lucky) is to be enforcers of the traditional role on other women

      2. The whole point of the article by Grania is women in countries like Iran and Saudi have No choice in the matter, and some westerners encourage deference to that.

        1. that said I think i agree with nancyabramsblogger that this particular dispute doesnt involve much that AirFrance can do anything about – and they only have to wear headgear on leaving the plane – they would have to wear gear in Iran anyway. I suppose giving women the option of not taking that flight roster is one thing – though it might possibly be so costly that the actual route is not justified. Ideally they should offer flexible roster to female air service staff who don’t want to do the Iran leg

          The issue of Western companies making Islamic clothing is I think a bit different.

    2. ” It may reveal one of your own culture’s biases.”

      Or it might just reveal shallow rationalizations that educated, privileged people use to avoid having to stick their neck out for gender equality.

      Your comment isn’t even internally coherent. You start by saying “when in Rome,” which means Westerners have to adapt when visiting the Middle East, Yet then you turn around and denounce those of us who feel Muslims ought to assimilate to Enlightenment egalitarian norms.

      As I always suggest, try to imagine writing about racism the way you dismiss the importance of misogyny. Would you have gone on a Standford alumni trip to apartheid South Africa or the Jim Crow South?

      1. Speaking of “When in Rome” – a fellow student when I was at UBC visited the Vatican and was also expected to cover when visiting some of the facilities there …

    3. Women will often say that they like it out of fear. Imagine how a good Muslim woman would dishonor her family if she said in public that she did not like to wear the hijab?

      But, if women really really preferered the hijab it, it would not come off when they travel to London to shop, for example. Those rich Saudi women at Harrods choose to dress like Western women.

    4. Same here, I don’t get the point of this story.
      By the way, the same non-sequitur is always underlying these issues: “Because some people choose freely to wear A, it is not bad to force A on everybody (or more specifically, on all members of a gender)”.
      So, we could say, because some people enjoy BDSM sex, I don’t see why yazidi slave girls complaint so much.
      My own “emotional response” to any sign of oppression and double standards is one of utter disgust. The same I would feel even if a slave talked to me praising his master and arguing that he wouldn’t choose or like living otherwise.

  14. Really this headline is a bit sensationalist and unfair to Air France. The situation is not of Air France’s making and, as they point out, all other airlines flying to Iran or Saudi Arabia have the same requirement.

    If their female crew don’t wear headscarves in Iran they will be breaking local laws and potentially subject to arrest. In the current nanny climate it would probably be held that Air France are negligent as an employer if they don’t do everything in their power to prevent that. And also potentially causing major consequent disruptions to flight schedules (which as PCC knows, is no joke).

    If crew members object to wearing a headscarf in Iran or Saudi they should be able to opt out of any duty that takes them there.

    (None of this has any bearing on whether headscarves are justifiable; in my view they’re bullshit, but – as the Aussie bar owner in Bali who found himself in the slammer for displaying a poster of Buddha with headphones discovered – bullshit sometimes turns nasty).


    1. This!

      Air France are simply telling their staff to make adjustments to their uniform so they are not breaking the law when in Iran. This is only good sense given that arrest and processing through the Iranian legal system is probably not a picnic.

      It would be helpful though if Air France made a statement that nobody who objected to the regulation would be made to fly that route.

  15. Woman here. Personally, my solution is to avoid the middle east like the plague. But I realize if your job is to be a flight attendant, that may not be an option for you. The way I see it, if you’re traveling to another country, you have to abide by their laws while you are there no matter how misogynistic they are. If you’re going to the middle east, you need to at least acknowledge that it is literally dangerous to not follow their laws in a lot of these countries. I don’t like it, and I don’t condone these regulations on women’s clothing, or the many regulations on women in general (cough cough, Saudi Arabia, cough cough) but your safety comes before your qualms about following misogynistic rules. The airline probably could have handled this better though.

    I’m personally not happy with the way that the French government treats religious symbols and religious gear. I truly believe that in the west, where people are free to choose their religion, there are women who choose to wear an abaya and headscarf or other religious clothing, just as there are women who choose to wear a cross around their necks even though the Bible is very anti-woman. France needs to get its shit together when it comes to religious symbols. Wearing one does not make you radical or anti-woman. Forcing someone to wear one though? That’s messed up. That’s misogynistic, just as keeping a woman from driving is.

    1. The women are not complaining or refusing to wear this gear while they are in Iran though. They are complaining about being made to wear it while on the flight en route.

      It is a reasonable distinction, I think.

      1. I agree it would be a reasonable distinction. However, according to the links you gave, they are NOT being required to wear headscarves en route, only when they get off the plane in Iran.

        On the plane, where they normally have a choice of skirt or trousers, Air France has instructed them to wear the trousers. But I can’t see anywhere they are objecting to the trousers.

        But then “flight crews were prepared to wear headscarves in Iran when out of uniform, but objected to being ordered to wear them as part of their uniform.”

        Having read both links, and there seem to be three different unions involved, I’m not quite sure what the actual point of disagreement is. Other than that they want to be able to decline to fly to Iran (on an individual basis).


      2. The women are not complaining or refusing to wear this gear while they are in Iran though. They are complaining about being made to wear it while on the flight en route.

        It is a reasonable distinction, I think.

        They only have to put the headscarf on while in Tehran.


        Air France is facing a backlash after instructing female crew to wear trousers during flights to Iran and to don a “loose-fitting jacket and headscarf” before leaving the plane in Tehran.

      3. You’re definitely right that there’s a reasonable distinction between the two. I didn’t get what you did from the article though (not the post, but the article the post links to.) The article says Air France was “…instructing female crew to wear trousers during flights to Iran and to don a ‘loose-fitting jacket and headscarf’ before leaving the plane in Tehran.” Tehran is in Iran. It sounds like they’re being told to wear the jacket and headscarf, but only when they’re in Iran. The only dress code rule on the plane is to wear pants, which all things considered isn’t a very strict dress code or necessarily a religious one (though I imagine it is motivated by it in this case). I don’t really have a problem with pants being required, and as long as they don’ t have to cover their heads or wear anything extra until they land, I can’t really get mad at Air France for this one.

  16. Yeah, I don’t get how religion gets to have the exception to the rule. Where I work, we have strict appearance guidelines, but some have gotten around them with the religion excuse. No bracelets, except for P, who appealed to the top manager that it was for his religion. The rule against bracelets is a safety measure,(machinery) is his god-imbued bracelet* going to protect him from any danger others might encounter not wearing a God Bracelet(TM)?

    A Sikh kid can wear his Kirpan to school, but other children cannot carry knives. I know the Kirpan is usually dull, but it is pointy at the end, and a potential weapon. If it’s okay for that kid, why is it not okay for other kids?

    Another co-worker gets to display her crucifix necklace, and no one says shit, but imagine if I tried to display my Cernounnous or pentagram (inverted, because the Satanic Temple makes this atheist smile). I could raise a stink, but if one person gets to display jewelry, well, everyone should. The excuse boils down to “theirs is magical, and yours is not” (or at least not the right kind of magic).

    Lastly, since I was a kid, I wanted to visit Egypt, and see the sights. I wouldn’t now; too scared, but even back then I would have covered, then out of respect, but now more out of fear of what could happen to me.

    *It’s really God-imbued. P told me that you can buy the regular bracelet for about two dollars, but the one blessed by the priest costs like six bucks. Nice scam there,priests.

    1. “the one blessed by the priest”

      I’m pretty sure you could get some Satanic Temple priest to bless your pentagram, or the right and virtuous Spaghetti Monster dude to wave a tentacle at a spoon on a chain for you. P would be amazed. 😎

  17. Another example of pandering to Islam, as long as we keep doing this,the more pandering they will demand.

  18. As much as I hate the hijab there are some myths that need to be corrected in this piece.

    1. Actually a small majority of iranians support obligatory hijab

    But most importantly…

    2. More women than men support obligatory hijab, yes, read that again. MORE iranian women support oblgatory hijab than iranian men.

    Female intrasexual competition is a complicated phenomenon, but never underestimate women’s desire to limit other women’s freedom. Just like men compete with men, women compete with other women. That’s why women in most countries actually tend ro be more supportive of sexually conservative norms than men are.


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