Today is officially the start of spring here in South Africa (and #zlotybaby’s bday!!!) and it won’t be long before people start stripping off the layers and starting to show off those hot bods they’ve been hiding all winter. It’s also a long time since fashion featured on #rinsebeforeuse so I thought it might be an appropriate time to talk swimwear, especially since it’s a topic that has been hitting the headlines recently with the somewhat unnecessary controversy over the burkini in France. Today’s post looks at why there is this need to police what women wear and the impact that views on fashion have in dating, particularly with regards to the length some will go to please their significant other?
While we all probably expected more of France, a supposedly progressive country which is not only famous for being ahead of the times when it comes to fashion but also sees itself as a paragon of Western freedoms – it is certainly not the first or only place where fashion is being policed. Recently, India’s Tourism Minister ‘advised’ female tourists not to wear skirts for their own safety, basically insinuating that this Western ‘slutty’ style of dressing encourages dirty perves to commit dirty perverted acts. Obviously, there is more to all of this than burkinis and short skirts – for some, it seems that getting women to strip off is about liberating them from patriarchy and for others its have women to cover up to protect themselves from rapists and predators. Apparently, policing the way women dress is actually more to do with everyone’s fear of seeing their culture eroded in a more globalised world.
Blah blah blah. Whatever the reasoning, one factor which is minimised in these discussions on women’s fashion is the role played by MEN and the many ways the effect what women do/do not wear. Don’t worry I’ll try to avoid having a feminist rant here (I mean you can’t hate on them all when most of the world’s leading fashion designers are men). When police claim they are rescuing women from patriarchal systems, these are systems which benefit men and similarly would women really need to make fashion choices based on ‘protection’ if some horrible MEN (yes, despite the weirdos of Tinder I still believe there are a few nice ones left) weren’t out there trying to play power games.
And, if this was nothing to do with men then why does nobody feel the need to police what blokes wear? I don’t think we’d hear many complaints if the police arrested men for wearing socks and sandals or those vulgar cargo pants ? And I wonder how those men running topless on Sea Point promenade flaunting their man boobs would feel if everyone called them a man-whore and told them to cover up? But luckily for them, the world doesn’t work that way.
Even on a more basic level when it comes to dating, much of what we wear is chosen to impress others, albeit subconsciously. I certainly don’t think taking pride in what you wear is a bad thing at all and everyone should be free to wear what they want. But if we really think about it? How much of what is on-trend in women’s fashion is defined by what is attractive to men? And sure, dressing up to make oneself feel good is always nice but I think the novelty of that would probably wear off if no-one (especially those that we like liked) noticed. Even though some chicks dress shabbily and claim they don’t care what other people/men think, the truth is that bucking the trend also requires effort and you’ll probably find they attract someone also embraces this shabby look.
So as much as I’ve ranted here, I don’t claim to be above this system where men basically infiltrate our weak little minds and have their say over women’s fashions. When it comes to dating however disillusioned I become after all these horrific encounters I still put some effort into the way I dress because even if he turns out to be a frog, you never know Prince Charming could be sitting at the very next table and no girl does herself any favours by looking like the Wicked Witch of the East. :D. And on a more serious note, of course we all need to employ a little bit of cultural sensitivity in certain places (like keeping the hot pants for the club rather than rocking them at a mosque or church) but summer is on the way and beaches are public places so if a chick wants to wear a burkini, a non-existent bikini or a unicorn costume the police need to leave her to it and busy themselves fighting the real criminals.
Rinsers – Please share your comments below. Do countries have the right to tell women what to wear? Why don’t they do the same for men? Do you agree that men have a major influence in defining what women wear? How much do you think of what we wear is designed to make us more attractive? Does the same apply for guys and how they dress? And how do we balance expressing ourselves through fashion and mainlining an appropriate degree of cultural sensitivity?