The politics of clothes


I recently read the stories of two young women from Delhi who were brutally gang raped.  They’re both dead now. The 17-year-old committed suicide because of how the police officers handled her case. Apparently, she was told to settle the matter peacefully with her assailants and to marry one of them. I am paraphrasing heavily, so I hope have the gist of it right.

The way I feel reminds me of how shaken I was when Daily Monitor ran a story about how one Ronald Kibuule told youths in Masaka that a law was in the pipeline which would regulate the way women dress. The purpose of this is to avoid rape, apparently.

What utter bum-rash.

From when we are small, we are told in age-appropriate ways that men are sex-crazed dogs that will catch and ‘spoil’ us if we’re not careful. We are also told to view the lecherous comments of men on the street as compliments. Our society is stuck in a mind frame where the body of a woman is hers until a man wants it, and then he can pick from a plethora of justifications for his actions.

This is why a boda man, a wheelbarrow pusher, a douchebag in his SUV all will, without a second thought, comment on what a lady is wearing and if she slaps or spits words of disgust at him, watchers will judge and call her “unladylike”. What do people think? That we women walk around with big shields around our emotions that keep us unaffected by these stupid comments? What kind of society is more inclined to defend a sexual predator and to blame my clothes for his sins against my dignity?

Please. Let’s not get it twisted. Rape existed before the miniskirt. It exists in societies where women are culturally required to cover most of their skin. It exists in societies where people celebrate their nakedness. It exists in Kampala that is a mix of many cultures. A rapist is a rapist and he doesn’t need a trigger to rape.

My miniskirt and low-cut blouse will no doubt cause arousal, but my society should be women-friendly enough to recognize that a man who looks at me and thinks, “must force into sex now” is a devil that deserves the strongest punishment.

Feel free to judge a woman on every other level for wearing what you call ‘skimpy’, but for heaven’s sake do not insinuate that a man who rapes her is justified on any level.

I leave you with two stories. A little friend of mine, all of eight years old, was ‘squeezed’ against her will by a group of boys during a school party. They surrounded her and touched her all over. Now they aren’t adults, but recognize that it is the mindset with which they are being brought up that makes them believe it is normal, even funny to do such a thing. Oh. And she was wearing a big dress with lots of petticoats.

The other story is my own. I was in senior 5, on my way from school. I was wearing school uniform, a grey skirt and a grey sweater. As I was stepping out of the taxi, I felt a weird pressure at breast level. When I looked down,  I found the finger of the now-amused and leering conductor rubbing against my sweater.  I wanted to vomit on his face, cry and to bemusedly comment about it to my friend, all at the same time but ended up not doing any of these things.

This man did not fondle me because of the way I was dressed. He did it because he was a disgusting and disrespectful human being.

Be ashamed, greatly ashamed if you believe that clothes cause rape. You wouldn’t think the same if women began raping men and then insisting that it is their fault for looking so ravishing in trousers.

Look at her! Her joy is encouraging rape! Her knees are sending me a message. They are screaming rape me! Mssswww

Look at her! Her joy is encouraging rape! Her knees are sending rapists a message. They are screaming rape me! Mssswww.

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10 thoughts on “The politics of clothes

  1. I agree with you on so many levels! A society so inclined on defending sexual predators is just so pathetic!!!!!!!!-on so many levels!!!!

  2. That is very true!!!!! The cause is the families we grow up from and the people we take to be mentors may be siblings, parents…….. How I wish we have families with strong moral values that bring up children with self respect. A person with no self-respect will never give what s/he does not have…

  3. A sin is not justified by a sin. Do not dress indescently in the name of that is what you love and feel-like and just in case a man sees a woman in a min-skit or a see-through skit should not rape her under the pritex of indscent dressing. For my sisters, your bodies are God’s temples kindly dress them descently. In the end those who rape commit a grave sin likewise those who put on min-skirts, see throughs and any other dressing code that exposes women’s and men’s private body parts.

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