(By Sam N. Edeh)
“Regarding this matter of indecent dressing, there isn’t much to complain about against the males aside from “sagging” and the show business pattern of un-buttoning shirts to show off big neck chains and chaplets. The real problem squarely lies with the females. The emergent situation therefore, is that indecent dressing/partial nudity has assumed an alarming height among our women folk. You need to visit the campuses of some of our higher institutions to understand what is happening. Clearly, the so called modern dressing of our females, particularly the younger ones, has become a cause for serious concern.“
WEARING of clothes is a distinctive and exclusive phenomenon of the human race. Of all animals, Homo sapiens are the only ones that wear clothes. Animal furs are not clothes since they are not external to their bodies but natural. In the same wise, even birds that are covered with plumage cannot be said to be wearing clothes as the feathers are part of their natural bodies and which are specially designed for their aerial locomotion.
Adam and Eve, our progenitors, and the first humans that were created, were originally naked in the Garden of Eden. But after consuming the forbidden fruit, they immediately became conscious of their nakedness. They quickly sewed leaves of figs into some clothing to cover themselves. This was the genesis of clothe-making and the wearing of same.
As society grew, different communities adopted different degrees of habiliments. Some covered the whole bodies; some others, a great percentage of the bodies; while yet others covered only the sensitive/private areas. There were, therefore, varying shades of nudity in different societies. Partial nudity was quite common in several communities. Years ago, many of these dishabille groups were found on the continents of Asia and Africa. All such societies were labelled as primitive and uncivilised especially by the Western societies.
In recent times, however, in an ironical and curious twist of fate, it is the Western societies of Europe and America that are now going naked in the name of fashion! But this time around, the partial nudity being exhibited by them is seen as civilisation, unlike the case when parts of Africa and Asia were the offenders. It is indeed difficult to do appropriate justice by way of description to what some European and American females especially wear these days in the name of fashion and show business. Suffice it to say that it is partial nudity, although they see it as civilisation and modernity.
There are nudists or naturalists in the world of today. These are individuals and groups that espouse to a cultural and social philosophy of naturalism or total nudity. Members of the groups go about their business of total nakedness within certain enclosures, such as designated nude beaches, naturist resorts or clubs, etc. Although they have occasionally been seen flaunting themselves and their wares on some TV Channels such as Euro Trash, they do not move about the public space in the nude, except during some protests such as the recent (2012) World Naked Bike Ride in London. But this is not the case with “modern and civilised” partial nudity. Those practising it appear to insist, consciously, on poking their anatomical instruments and tackles in our faces, as opposed to flaunting them in some secluded or “members’ only” environments. It is indecent and immoral!
Globalisation has brought the world closer: With the internet, faster means of travel, instant communication, social media, cable television, etc! Developments in any part of the world are easily and quickly transmitted to other parts, sometimes instantaneously. And so, all Western practices and cultures, both good and evil, are quickly trans-nationalised and copied by other parts of the world through the influence of globalisation.
Regarding this matter of indecent dressing, there isn’t much to complain about against the males aside from “sagging” and the show business pattern of un-buttoning shirts to show off big neck chains and chaplets. The real problem squarely lies with the females. The emergent situation therefore, is that indecent dressing/partial nudity has assumed an alarming height among our women folk. You need to visit the campuses of some of our higher institutions to understand what is happening. Clearly, the so called modern dressing of our females, particularly the younger ones, has become a cause for serious concern.
Among our younger generation of females, the major purpose of wearing clothes appears to have been relegated to the background in that very deliberate efforts are made to expose, rather than cover sensitive and private parts of the body. The breasts appear to be at the centre of this conspiracy! There is the gaping dress which is cut straight in the middle, baring the chest and its constituents. Blouses and the upper parts of gowns, the necklines, are cut so low as to show the cleavages and expose at least half the length of the boobs (“absolute cleavage”). Some other cuts show parts of the breasts through the armpit areas (“side-boobs”). The spaghetti strap, the cup dress and the sleeveless are the most grievously implicated in this domain. Other cuts expose the whole of the back (“topless back”). In all these cuts, any slight attempt of the female in bending down usually leads to a replication of the famous case of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction.
Then there is the slit: The front ones expose the whole laps, sometimes reaching up to the groin. The back slit goes up to the buttocks, while the side ones generally approach the waist line. The mini dress/gown has returned, and this time around with the complement of lawn tennis pants. There is also the low waist trousers which are designed to “show the boot”, that is, expose part of the buttocks. This was especially worrisome in the days of motor cycle transport in the cities. Then you would see girls on motor bikes with parts of their hips displayed freely for public consumption. Very short knickers are now in vogue, exposing laps of various colorations especially in Nollywood. To all of these, one must not forget to add the body hug. These are blouses, gowns, trousers, etc made in such a way that they stick to the bodies, thereby bringing out all the curves and contours, particularly those of the breasts, groins and buttocks.
The African long skirt and blouse is also beginning to present some problems. Ordinarily, these dresses, which are made with lace and African prints, appear nice on our ladies. They could be seen at weddings, parties, various occasions and ceremonies, etc looking adorable and resplendent in them. There are, however, two basic problems with this dress. The long skirt is sewed as a tight-fitting body hug at the hips. The blouse, on the other hand, is usually skimpy and very much in want of more material. When the woman sits down, the hips draw down the skirt, while the blouse is drawn up by the chest. The combined effect of this diametric contradiction is that a displacement occurs in the midriff and leaves a sizeable clearance at the lower back. The sight of this was a big problem during worships before churches started frowning at indecent dressing and enforcing proper dressing. In those earlier days, “woe betide you” if you are unfortunate to have a sister so dressed sitting in front of you. You will be hard pressed to completely keep your eyes away from her direction. In the attendant confusion, chances are that you will not be able to follow the Bible readings not to talk of internalising the sermon of the day!
A cursory exploration of the attraction between the sexes is apposite here: In the animal world generally, it is the females that initiate sex. This they do through the transmission of chemical messages to the males about their heat and readiness to mate. In the Homo sapiens part of the animal world, this rule also obtains, but with a little exception. The males are attracted by sight, not chemical stimuli. The females, therefore, attract and captivate their attention by deliberately making themselves very beautiful and attractive. This female initiative is usually magnetising and irresistible to the males. Genesis 6:2 records how even exalted personages saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and had to marry those they chose! And now, on top of the beauty, to worsen matters, some females add provocative and inviting exposures to the bargain. The sight of this usually sends most men fantasising and out of control. Given that man is attracted to the female by sight, there is, therefore, a correlation between female exposure and male eroticism. It is indeed a straight line equation in which there is a direct proportionality between the degree of exposure and the magnitude of arousal.
Self control is strongly advocated among the males. But the males need to be genuinely assisted by their female counterparts, rather than being constantly subjected to heavy temptations and stimulated through all kinds of exposures. Most young men out there are not priests; even if they were, they are not all of the variety that has sworn to an oath of celibacy. Besides, even the priests themselves are still subject to human feelings, and sometimes do make mistakes.
Some weeks ago, there was a report in some newspapers about a Kenyan lady who wore a skirt that was ultra short. On being sighted, the men within the area advised her to go back home and change to something better. She scorned their advice and insisted on proceeding to her destination in the very skimpy attire. She was then assaulted and stripped naked. It was only through the kindness of some mature ladies that some clothes were brought to cover her nakedness and save her from further embarrassment. Much as one is not condoning such illegality as stripping her of her clothing, the fact remains that she greatly contributed to the fate that befell her; it was a clear case of victimology.
Of recent there have been many reported cases of rape. The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina, has lamented the increase during stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja and appealed to the judiciary to handle offenders with seriousness so as to serve as a deterrent. But the big question about the causes of the increase in this anti-social behaviour is yet to be settled. Inquiries are being made to establish the psycho-social causes of the upsurge. It should, however, be stated categorically that any research finding that does not include indecent dressing among the causative factors will be an incomplete work. Such should not pass the test of academic significance and literary contribution.
• Dr. Edeh is a management consultant in Port Harcourt.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”