Perhaps the burqa?

When General Ndeitunga unleashed furore with his threat to arrest any woman who is wearing a miniskirt, there were some men who felt that they just had to also express their opinions on the topic. And why not? We after all are living in a democracy where one is entitled to an opinion.

However, I find the overzealous, moralistic and self-righteous attempts by some men to speak for and uphold the “chasteness” and “dignity” of women very strange.

One man who joined our online discussion on the topic stated; “ its [sic] unfortunate that most of the time you women choose to ignore plain truth! I’m not against women dressing in minis, or anything, but please whatever they choose to wear, let it be decent. I’m of the belief that a decent woman will always dress decently!”

Later on he just had to make it clear that “I regard every woman in skimpy clothes in a public place as loose, cheap and not worth any respect at all. Charity begins at home, oh wait. . .women believe it begins with men!!! Bottom line is I’ve no respect for rapists & for those women who choose to parade their nakedness in public!” He went on to urge women to “Take off those women blindness tinted specs & see the truth, ” because “Its a shame to see people wasting their time, hard earned cash & energy on negative stuff!”

Yet another man’s stated that he is “very sad that women think the only way to be respected is to be a sex object. Can’t you women be more classic like the Michelle Obamas, Winnie Mandelas, Joyce Bandas etc? How is being a half-naked drama queen beneficial to the cause of equality?”

What disturbs me about these men’s opinions is that they genuinely believe that a woman can only be respected if she is dressed – I suppose – like a nun. A woman’s hair should not show, neither her skin, nor her body. These men, no doubt will support IG Ndeitunga’s proposal to arrest those wily vixen who dare flaunt their skin in public on the spot. I suppose they would also not be negatively inclined towards public chastening, possibly flogging, eventually executed by stoning.

If there is one lesson that the women in Mali-of-late have learned, it is not to underestimate the conviction of a self-righteous group of militant men, especially if they are of a conservative and/or fundamentalist religious persuasion. What may start with controlling what women are wearing or not wearing, soon will spill over into women’s association and curtailing with whom they may or may not speak. Before long their movement is restricted. We know that the struggle for women’s rights in Mali has been set back for 50 years. Is this what we want for Namibia?

I must say, I see very many Namibian women dressed in minis or in shorts, but I honestly cannot remember seeing any of them dressed “indecently” or “immorally” in any sense of the word. Maybe I am not frequenting those places where our brothers see these indecent women. As for half naked? Whenever I see a half naked person on the streets of Windhoek, it usually is a man. 

In short, what do those men advocating for women’s “decency” actually want? I imagine that they will be happy to next see Namibian women in Burqa – after all, this could also be our African tradition.