Ma tête, mon droit: Protecting our freedom of expression

Just in time for toque season up here in Canadia, I present to you “Ma tête, mon droit (My head, my right): Protecting our freedom of expression” illustrated by yours truly!

This poster and postcard (available for purchase and/or free download here) were designed in collaboration with kindred spirits over at The Public, a Toronto-based activist design studio committed to crafting all sorts of materials with and for social justice organizations (basically, my design-soulmates).

This image is part of The Public’s ongoing People’s History series, “a self-initiated project celebrating and honouring ongoing resistance in our communities.” Encouraged to pick a topic I was passionate about (just one?!), I chose to highlight the absurdity of governments claiming to liberate their subjects by enforcing/restricting dress codes in the name of “freedom”. The back of each postcard reads:

Increasingly, political parties and complacent governments have been categorizing which items should be “reasonably accommodated” or worn in public spaces, including at schools, health-care facilities and other government-related environments.

Bills are being proposed to target those who visibly, rightfully and peacefully express their convictions—secular or religious, however controversial—in public.

In a true democracy, to be told what we cannot wear is hypocritical. It is to practice the same oppression of those who force uniforms on others under the vague guise of “secularism”.

In Montréal, groups like No One is Illegal, Q-PIRG Concordia, and the Federation des Femmes du Québec are working to unveil the xenophobia behind recent proposals, paving the way for honest dialogue and tolerance in its true sense.

In places like France, Belgium and Quebec which have passed and/or are considering passing laws making it illegal to cover one’s face in public, this has most visibly affected Muslim women who wear the niqab, a face veil worn by observant Orthodox Muslim women as a symbol of faithful devotion and a sign of modesty. Though much contested among Muslims themselves, many people, religious and secular alike, believe that women are coerced into wearing it. This poster is partially about the equally ironic oppression of forcing a woman to take her niqab off, once again rendering her choiceless in the matter.

Niqab, hijab, sombrero, bowler hat, kippah, helmet, bandana, kofia, patka, shpitzel, turban, or frying pan, it’s your head, dude. As long as you’re not offending anyone, express yourself by covering it up however you want.

In solidarity, hasta luego!


PS: Below is a series of images further exploring this topic (designed for another project).  The first visual was inspired by the one and only Barbara Kruger. Feel free to take +/share =)

My body is not your battleground.

What's backwards is not respecting my choice to wear it.    Banning my symbol of faithful devotion is oppressive.    Telling me to take it off is still telling me what to do.