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Monday 13 September 2010

Dress Code.

Who decides?

There's a debate that's been going on for as far as I can I remember. Who decides what one should wear if one is of age of consent? Is it themselves? Is it the law of the land? Is it their patners/spouses? Is it public opinion? Is it peer pressure? Is it self-consciousness/inferiority complex? Who decides?

In recent times, France banned the wearing of 'masks' in public by women - a thing that's commonly practiced in the Middle East - citing it to be inhumane and a sign that's seen as female oppression by the western world.

In Arabia, some muslim sects require women to dress in a certain way if they are to go out in public. In short, they must cover their faces leaving only the eyes (and sometimes they are required to wear sunglasses to cover them too). 'The Niqab' it's called. The reason for this requirement they say: is to deter the ever-wandering eye of men from coveting other men's spouses and also to deter those young men from 'pre-marital activities.' To have a decent society they say.

If one thinks about this, there may be some bone to it, but I wouldn't go as far as passing laws that require women to go out in public dressed in masks that resemble helment visors of medieval knights. The men in this part of the world obviously support this practice. But what about the women? What's their opinion?

I've had numerous conversations with many different muslim sisters from this part of the world and surprisingly some fully support this practice. 'To preserve our modesty' they tell me. On the other side of the coin, it is seen as another sign of men trying to oppress the female gender among other things such as: no voting, no driving, no bank account, basic level education, no going out in public without a male escort (not just any male) it's supposed to be either your husband, brother or father - but let's not get into that. That's a whole 'nother issue. Today we are talking about dress code. I just wanted to give a couple of examples of where this stems from.

Okay, where were we? Oh, here.

On the other hand, in the west, some women (and men) dress in a rather provocative and sometimes downright rude ways. For example: some dress in a manner that's seen by the older generation as offensive by wearing their trousers below their backside thus leaving their underwear for all to view. Among the younger generation, it's seen as cool. But who decides what's in or out? Some women wear see-through dresses in public too and it's seen as 'fashion forward' or womens' freedom. But who's to tell?

Should the government engage in the business of banning certain dress codes and leaving others? Very short skirts (and shorts) that leave little to imagine? Personally I cannot complain coz the more that is on show, the more I smile. What can I say, it's a man's world. Sometimes I whistle too. You might say, I'm a pervert but if one wakes up in the morning and decides to 'exhibit' their 'goods', then they deserve to be appreciated by whistling thus confirming that their efforts are not wasted. Fellas, who's with me. High fives here!

I always tell my sisters and female friends, that if they are to go out in public dressed as those in the red light district, then they deserve to be treated as such.

But having said all that, in my humble opinion, I think that one should always excercise common sense and dress stylish but decent. And the government should not be in the practice of banning certain dress codes because it's a slippery slope. If you ban one thing, then what's next?

Is it fashion or victim? For my Middle East sisters, are they (to use photography lingual) under-exposed, and for my Western World sisters (and brothers), over-exposed?

Who decides?


Jamie-Lee Burns said...

I often wonder about this - wonder about how social norms are created, and why they are accepted.

I definately think that over the years it has started to become more acceptable for girls of a young age to dress provocatively, and in my opinion I think that it is because they are growing up to quickly, and not so sure it is appropriate.

But it's really up to the parents of these kids to try and moderate what they are wearing - they hold the purse strings do they not?

The Photodiarist said...

Over here in the U.S., some towns and cities are enacting laws banning baggy pants -- the kind that hang down half way on guys' asses. I am of the mindset that governments should not interfere when it comes to personal dress. Who knows where they will take it. I would hate for the Republican party to start telling me what to wear!

Connie Staccato said...

Wow! There is so much to say here.

I, too, am suspicious of censorship of any kind, especially by the government, but I can't say that sometimes it appears necessary.

If people refuse to show any kind of self-control or good judgment, and this includes public dress as well as Wall Street greed, then somebody eventually needs to step in and apply some regulations.

Preserving one's "modesty", because men cannot be trusted to restrain themselves, by making one virtually invisible, dressing in a way that restricts one's movements, and in what is often a dangerously unhealthy manner does not seem like the ideal solution.

On the other hand, I used to escort student groups to Mexico and we would recommend that the female students dress modestly for their own safety. This advice was often ignored, with the students walking around the streets in shorts so short they looked like diapers, with predictable results. And then they would get angry at "the culture".

I also remember how angry my daughter was when I refused to let her wear shoes with heels when she was twelve (shades of "Taxi Driver").

People can be sexy and attractive without the over-display of bare flesh. Sometimes more so. Look at the way people dress in Italy.

But how to instill good taste in the general public without legislation? Good luck with that. As long as the cast of Jersey Shore gets positive reinforcement for their fashion sense, we're struggling against insurmountable odds.

GREAT post!

Fashionistable said...

Great post. Fear is the driving force for most of this. Everyone in fear of everyone else. When love is the way everyone will be happier. Xxxx

Nadine2point0 said...

Hilarious nod to "Taxi Driver" from Underemplyed...we go through that sometimes too with our daughter.
We are always encouraging our children to be individuals and not to conform if they feel pressured to...but safety is another issue. Hard to explain why wearing something skin tight, or strippy-strappy is encouraging the wrong kind of attention when she sees it everywhere getting positive attention in Hollywood. Argg.

I'm opposed to censorship as well, but I fully support dress codes in schools for anyone under 18 and dress codes for certain jobs...if you don't like the rules then get another job as far as I'm concerned.
Having said that, ethnic dress code is a tricky buzz point here. We are a melting pot, happily, in Canada and fully encourage ethnic diversity when it comes to culture and clothing. It becomes a problem when the cultural traditions interfere with uniform: eg. Government roles such as our Mounted Police and the wearing of turbans and ceremonial daggers. Oh the outrage on that one. I'm not sure where that issue stands now that I think about it....gonna look it up!
Hope your week is going well.

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