The way people are dressed can say a lot about them. Job portfolios can be identified via dressing. For instance, if you’re in the hospital, you can know a nurse or a doctor by their dressing. A judge is not difficult to spot in the court, courtesy of their dressing. Religious or cultural identities can also be established by looking at a person’s dressing. You don’t need someone to tell you that a woman in a hijab is a Muslim while you will know a Yoruba man once he is in an agbádá. However when it comes to pretty obscure things like niceness or intelligence of an individual, dressing yields very little information if any at all. This article is about a woman’s dressing and chastity. Does a woman’s dressing say anything about her sex life or morality?
Why is this about females anyway? Well it’s because when it comes to sexual morality, everybody is concerned about the female body only. Most people believe that the more a woman covers her body, the holier she is. Commercial sex workers are known to dress scantily. Pole dancers at clubs are also similarly scantily dressed. Skimpy and revealing dressing is the stock-in-trade of ladies who offer sex services. However this has pushed us into a fallacy that says once a woman is scantily dressed, she is a slut and if she is all covered up, she is a virgin. It’s a bloody lie! This is not true.
First of all, what constitutes scanty dressing? Broadly speaking, what qualifies a woman’s dressing as indecent? It depends on whom you talk to as there is no standard description of what constitutes scanty or indecent dressing and what doesn’t. This lack of consensus emanates from two sources.
1. There is no universal metre for measuring decency of a woman’s dressing
The Deeper Life church is popular for an ascetic lifestyle. This ‘holiness-unto-the-Lord’ lifestyle puts so much restriction on a woman’s dressing. No female Deeper Lifer is allowed to wear trousers. Why? It is because they think that, among other reasons, trousers show buttocks in an inviting manner. Of course, they say their reason for forbidding women from wearing ‘…that which pertaineth to a man’ (Deuteronomy 22:5). If you say that there are female trousers that belong to women and not men, they bring up the buttocks matter. In this church, female tops must be turtlenecks. Why? It is because otherwise, cleavages can be exposed. Transparent clothes are an abomination. You know why already. Tight-fitting clothes are a no-no too: they show the curves and shapes of female bodies. Skirts must be below the knees and must be flowing. In summary, a woman’s dressing must cover sexually sensitive parts.
Sometime ago, I was discussing with a female member of this church and I told her that their own idea of a woman’s dressing wasn’t even decent enough in some other people’s reckoning. I made her realize that in all of their pride in their dressing sanctimony, they are complete sinners in some other circles. I can cite many examples but let’s stay with something close home. Cue in the Muslims who believe that for a woman’s dressing to be called decent, it must cover the whole of her head except her face. The hijab is less skimpy than the Deeper Life’s turtlenecks and turbans. In fact, you will be chased out of a salat (Muslim prayer session) for indecent dressing if you’re dressed like a Deeper Life woman.
Many Muslim women just wear only the hijabs alongside otherwise conventional dresses like anybody else. These are the less devoted ones, the people I will like to call group 1. The more devoted ones (group 2) wear long garments in conjunction with the hijabs even though their long dresses are cute and sexy. Then their hijabs leave their faces open. Even further more devoted ones (group 3) convert the long garments to loose drapes and their hijabs become niqabs that cover their faces. This group usually adds socks and gloves too. Group 3A will still manage to leave the eyes open while group 3B will even take it further by covering their eyes. This progression is exemplified in the following picture.
So let’s go back to our earlier question. In terms of the degree of the decency of a woman’s dressing, where do you draw the line? Is the Deeper Life dress code the cut-off for a decent woman’s dressing? The Muslim group 1 code? Group 2? Group 3A or 3B? You see now? From total nakedness to a Muslim group 3B dress code, the decency of a woman’s dressing ranges in infinitesimal degrees and there is no objective way to draw the line. You will only draw your own line based on your own prejudices. Parodying the common saying about meat, we can only say that one woman’s decent dressing is another woman’s indecent dressing.
2. There is no universal contextual definition of decency of a woman’s dressing
Even when you finally draw the line, you still somehow fail to remain consistent in your definitions. For instance, female athletes are seminude with almost all the whole body exposed. Yet most people don’t see it as indecent. Cultural dancers are often seminude too and the same people don’t adjudge them as indecently dressed. However if a lady on a way to a party or cinema leaves the same amount of flesh exposed, the same people who adjudge the athlete and the cultural dancer decent will adjudge her indecent. Look at the following picture and tell me if there is a difference in the degrees of nudity on display in the three ladies. Then ask yourself why you will see nothing with the first two ladies but call the third lady a slut.
It’s because it’s all in your mind. We have been conditioned to see the first two ladies as decent and the third one as indecent. In other words, no woman’s dressing is inherently decent or indecent: we are the ones that do the dichotomy.
Still in terms of context, we define decency of a woman’s dressing by occasions. The same dressing some people will call decent if seen at the grocery store is the exact same dressing the same people will call indecent if seen in the church. Why is it that way? Once again, there is no fixed standard for these things. What is the way out? Perhaps we should go 100% to the right all the time. In other words, to avoid any ambiguity, let us ask our women to do the Muslim group 3B dress code all the time. On a serious note, I’m sure you don’t consider that healthy, do you?
Therefore because you have been confused by your inconsistent assessment of her dressing, a woman can actually be chaste while you think she is a slut. But there is the other side of the coin: because a woman’s dressing is decent to you doesn’t mean she is not a slut. As much as you can’t call a woman indecent just because her dressing doesn’t fit into your myopic moral code, you also can’t call a woman decent because her dressing g appears decent to you. In summary, looks can be very much deceiving!
Some of the most sexually undisciplined, sluttish, women I have ever come across are those who attend all these churches where women wear scarves. In fact, such churches have a high rate of unwanted pregnancies and all whats-not. And having moved close to some ladies who dress freely, I discovered that contrary to popular opinion, this group contains some of the most sexually disciplined ladies I have ever met. In fact, Catholic sisters who pledge celibacy and maintain strict dress codes have surprised the world with their sexcapades. Packaging is sometimes different from the content.
I can never forget an incident in early 1998 as a first-year student in the university. It was dark around 8 pm when I was strolling on the campus. This particular road did not have street lights. So you wouldn’t be able to recognize anyone standing by the road. You could only catch someone’s silhouette as it was cast by the headlights of the oncoming cars. It was also a fairly secluded part of the campus: the tiny narrow road was flanked on both sides by canopy trees. As I approached this particular person standing by the roadside, the silhouette looked like a Muslim lady dressed up in the group 3 code. However something was strange: the size of her body looked like that of two people combined together. Something was wrong here. So I moved close and waited for the next car to pass. As it did, I stared meticulously and discovered that underneath this bloated body were four human feet that were barely visible under the big, long, and loose garment. Why were there two people under this cloak? A woman’s dressing says very little about her sexual behaviour.
Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife was in the news recently. On the campus, Fajuyi Hall is an all-male hostel where females are not allowed inside beyond the visiting hours. However there are several routes that enter the hostel and thus the authorities can not effectively police the entry and exit of visitors. It has a mosque where both male and female students pray and most people thought that the multitude of head-to-toe-covered Muslim sisters that came around were only coming for prayers.
Last month, it was discovered that the Muslim students, some of whom were alfas, had been camping these girls in that hostel. You heard that right. Muslim ladies in group 3 dress code cohabited with male students inside a male hostel. Of course, they were busted and all mosques in all student hostels have been closed down by the school authority. This is the kind of behaviour that many skimpily dressed girls won’t even contemplate. Asceticism, the lifestyle of extreme strict conservative behaviour, is not a guarantee of chastity.
Why must a woman even subject herself to other people’s idea of dressing? Why must every sexual offence be about a woman’s dressing? It’s because we think that it’s the women that are to blame for men who don’t have control over their own physiology. We declare that it’s not the men’s fault for not being disciplined. We absolve the man of any blame for his own weakness, his inability to keep his mind, hormones, and penis in check. We put the blame on the woman instead. So we leave the women asking themselves why they even had to be women in the first place. We make them realize that having a female body is a wrong that can only be righted by wrapping the body up like a birthday gift. Some stupid people even put the blame on the rape victim saying she caused it by how she dressed. Unknown to such people, rape rates (including the extremely terrible version called gang rape) are higher in countries like Pakistan, India, and Iraq, where women move about all covered up. Men who force women to cover up are the same ones who consume pornography in secret.
So when a woman is dressing up, she doesn’t only think of what looks good on her and what she feels comfortable in. She also bothers herself with what will not make the untamed dogs, the unbridled men, out there to devour her or offend her creator. I have never had to carry it but I guess it must have been arduous for ladies to carry their personal moral burden and combine it with the men’s moral burden too.
What does it even matter whether a woman is a slut or not? Shouldn’t that be her personal problem and that of her partner? Shouldn’t what she does with her body be her personal ish? This society needs to stop turning a woman’s sexuality into a matter of public interest. A woman (just like anybody who is an adult) has a right to choose the sexual life that pleases her and that shouldn’t be your own problem. You can please shove your judgment of her up your misogynistic arse!
Let me quickly say this before someone misunderstands me totally. I’m not advocating that people should dress anyhow. I understand and identify with the concept of inappropriate dressing. For instance, it’s inappropriate to wear a gown as a footballer on the pitch. On the other hand, I find nothing wrong with a lady in bum shorts at the poolside or a beach. However I consider it inappropriate if she shows up in the same dress at the annual general meeting of her company. A woman’s dressing can not offend me sexually neither can it make me see her as someone who sleeps around. In other words, I don’t consider any dressing decent or indecent. Rather I may consider it inappropriate, that is, it may make me see you as someone who lacks etiquette. The only person who can truly know if her dressing is indecent or not is the person inside the dressing. She’s the only one who is privy to the intentions behind the dress.
In conclusion, guys don’t be deceived. Are you planning to date her? Look beyond the dressing and what the society thinks of it. Brother, study her and understand her from your own independent viewpoint. Nowadays some really bad girls are tying scarves and wearing turbans to look pious and deceive the unsuspecting brothers. Beware! Use your brains. Get to know her very well before jumping into any hasty conclusion. Remember that when it comes to chastity, a woman’s dressing may not have much to say.