The burkini ban on some French beaches seems to mark the ‘silly season’ in a confused western culture, and the human rights of women wearing this sort of jump suit beach wear have been upheld by a French court.

Perhaps we could put a much more positive spin on the potential of the jumpsuit burkini and urge the wearers of the de-personalising full burka to switch to the burkini.

This does not cover the face and so discloses personality, and as a jumpsuit coheres with a western type of garb.

Perhaps then the burkini is a way forward, a sort of Hegelian synthesis taking up the difference and providing a new unity?

As to Oxford University, that already affirms the burkini: on the notice boards of the Iffley Road Rosenblatt Swimming pool, we read that burkinis are allowed, but wetsuits are banned – an inversion of the Nice beach ban.

As a wearer of a wetsuit in the chilly sea waters of the Northumbrian coast, I delight at last in being discriminated against, some sort of the victim card really does appeal. If I converted to Islam would my wetsuit be allowed in the Rosenblatt pool, or would I also need to ‘transition’ to becoming a woman – or could Muslim men wear the burkini and thus make the wetsuit allowable in the Rosenblatt, thus making my second conversion unnecessary?

It is all very confusing, and does remind us of the power of religion in our so called secular society.

The confusion continues when we consider university rules on garb, in particular ‘sub fusc’, the uniform students have to wear for important academic events such as matriculation, sitting of public exams, graduation.

The meaning of the Latin term indicates a dark colour, now basically black suit and white or black tie, with gown and mortar board. Some gowns are short, some longer and more elaborate the higher the status of the student in academic qualification. The University tells us that this mode of dress is more than a mark of individual academic prowess: ‘The wearing of academic dress should be seen not simply as a sign of achievement, but as a collective symbol of the responsibility which falls on all members of universities.’

The common vesture indicates a corporate identity, not just an individual choice – as does the burkini of course. The plot thickens with the impact of equality legislation, as students are now beyond male and female and they can choose the male or the female form of sub fusc whether a man or a woman, and already one can detect hefty male wearing female attire for whatever reason. Here we might ask again about the wetsuit/burkini distinction at Rosenblatt, can it really stand up given the interchangeability of sub fusc usage?

If the University is to continue developing the interchangeability of gendered garb, tutors might find the full burka of some use: if – perish the thought – a tutor had to listen to a less than interesting essay, he or she might be able to nod off undetected under cover of a full burka. It might also cut down the heating bills during the winter months and resonate with our eco-friendly commitments. Whether or not Hegel would have agreed with any of this dialectical speculation, criss-crossing boundaries, is however doubtful.