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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » King of Swaziland to women: remove pants!

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Author Topic: King of Swaziland to women: remove pants!
Dzuunmod
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Like the subject says...

The King of Swaziland is demanding that women in his tiny, landlocked African country not wear pants. Okay, so there's more to it than that - "The Bible says curse be unto a woman who wears pants, and those who wear their husband's clothes. That is why the world is in such a state today," King Mswati said.

Swaziland is Africa's last absolute monarchy.

Anyone have any thoughts about this insanity?

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...and we raise the white flag, so they can paint it red and blue!
-Joel Plaskett, True Patriot Love


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Sunset_Rose
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Oh my goodness.
I think the only response to this can be that it is insanity.
I can't believe that women wearing trousers is being held as the single cause for everything that is wrong with the world.
I am only hoping that the King doesn't pass a law prohibiting women from wearing trousers.. what a truly ridiculous situation.
Also, the bit that interested me was at the end of article...
"He is currently married to nine wives, with a wedding pending for wife number 10, and has chosen an additional fiancee after reviewing videos of topless maidens performing a traditional Reed Dance ceremony."
Someone who chooses thier life partner by how they look without thier clothes on.
I think that just about says it all.



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UKgirl
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quote:
Originally posted by Sunset_Rose:
Someone who chooses thier life partner by how they look without thier clothes on.
I think that just about says it all.

I don't know anything at all about the culture of swaziland, but perhaps this dance is always done topless? It could have been that he was judging her on her ability to conduct an important ceremony (v. important for the wife of a monarch) rather than how her breasts jiggled. breasts are highly sexualised in many western cultures, but that isn't true for all societies, and I don't know whether it is true for swaziland. I agree that blamin women in trousers for societies ills is a very odd idea. however, I think that article was too brief, and I really dislike the way that last paragraph was tacked on. Yes, in our society that would be wrong, but we cant judge it the same way in another person's culture without first looking at what it means in that other culture.


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Dzuunmod
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I think you make some interesting points UK, but there are some situations where I, personally, am a universalist. Telling people what they can and cannot wear is wrong. For me, there are no cultural reasons that can justify it.

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...and we raise the white flag, so they can paint it red and blue!
-Joel Plaskett, True Patriot Love


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UKgirl
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Dzuunmod, I agree. I was saying that we should be cultuarally relativist towards the issues about his wives that the article adressed.

Interesting point:
we are all agreeing that these women should be allowed to wear trousers, fair enough. Many of us would also agree that in muslim countries women should be free not to wear the viel if they don't want to, fair enough. But don't forget that in the west we have laws about what we can and cannot wear aswell. If I wander down the road naked I'll get arrested. very much culturally specific.


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Dzuunmod
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I think the point you might want to make, UK, is that if you wander down the road topless you'll get arrested.

It's not fair to compare laws against complete nudity that apply to everyone - such as we have in most, if not all of the Western world - to laws against females only, which would dictate, more or less, that they wear skirts, or veils, or what-have-you.

In Ontario, Canada, for instance, both men and women are allowed to be topless in public, but neither group is allowed to go completely naked. This law might be wrong, but it is at least fair which is more than can be said for laws which require that women do this, or men don't do that.

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...and we raise the white flag, so they can paint it red and blue!
-Joel Plaskett, True Patriot Love


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UKgirl
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v. good point, esp. considering that apart from being hot there is no reason for a man to go around topless, whereas women need to in order to breastfeed
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Milke
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Women have been pulling shirts and shawls up and down for years in order to feed their babies and keep them warm. It's not necessary to take it all off.

And interestingly enough, women seldom do go topless here. I guess it's still considered taboo or overly attention-grabbing enough that most of us tend to avoid it.

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Milke, with an L, SSBD, RATS, TMNTP, MF

'What has the rest of you been doing while your hand has been playing Atari?'


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retarded_brat
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I do not believe that everything that has gone wrong in this world can be solved by women not wearing pants. I do not believe that women wearing pants caused all the problems in this world to begin with.

I dont know, correct me if I'm wrong, but maybe the whole women-pants thing is more symbolic. The idea of a woman wearing pants is that a woman would be wearing clothes that used to be traditionally worn by males. This maybe symbolic of a trend where in the modern world, women tend to have a bigger say in things rather than the authority they pulled say 500 years ago?. True enough, some cultures still see women as nothing more than a kitchen slave and a baby making machine (forgive me for generalising) but that idea of a woman has largely diminished as women are begining to play a more active role in sharing responsibilities etc etc. It's starting to be more of a 50-50 thing. So maybe the King felt that the men's space was being encroached on by the women?. Hence stopping women from wearing pants would "put them back in their place?". (I know, I'm rolling my eyes too). I'm probably wrong, but I guess I'm trying to figure out why he would want to do something like this. Correct me if I am wrong.

The other thing, about picking a partner based on purely looks. Sad to say, but this practice still does happen in many cultures and many religions. A friend of mine was despairing to me once about how his family wouldnt allow him to find a wife for himself. If he wants to marry someone of his own choice, EVEN if she were of the same religion as him, it would be considered an *insult* not to let the elders pick a partner and thus he would shame the family. Thankfully he's not with someone, because I can only imagine the heartache this would cause him and the girl. Apparently he's not even allowed to MEET this potential partner. He would just be shown a photograph. "You like?. Yes?. No?". Thats it!. The person you would have to spend the rest of your life with, the person who would bear your children, the person who would be with you from then on, all judged based on a single photograph. What if she was a really nice person, but with buck-teeth or something?. What if she was a really gorgeous woman but with big issues and mental problems?. And what about HER?. SHE probably would have it worse, because atleast HE gets to look at the picture and is given a choice of yes or no. I doubt she is given the same choice!. What if a real brute says yes to her picture?. Food for thought--

This is one very rare instance of which I heard of soemthing as attrocious as this. I am not saying that all religions and cultures are like this, I have several friends who are the complete opposite and have very open minded parents as well. I apologise in advance if I offend anyone.
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"I'm no good at putting myself in other people's shoes, I'm too busy getting my own to fit." - A.D. (Adam Duritz)

[This message has been edited by retarded_brat (edited 06-01-2003).]


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Confused boy
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That points to the parallel issue of cultural ideals and rules of dress. While in Western countries, we may pride ourselves on our supposed openness to dress, the reality is that there are many forces pushing people towards certain codes: the media, local society and specifically "fashion". So we may laugh at countries attempting to forces dress codes on their people but until we have eradicated such biases in our society, we are mocking ourselves. I would look more to hunger, disease and the AIDS crisis when considering immediate worries in 3rd world countries, not their idiosyncratic cultures.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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retarded_brat
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But does the western society BAN anyone from dressing the way they want to?. I'm leaving out the extremes where nudity and being topless is illegal. Admitted the western society has it's dresscode dictated to a certain extent by fashion, but no one forces anyone to wear it, it's the wearer's choice to get out there and buy designer clothes of they so please. However, it's different in Eastern societies because sometimes there is more emphasis on *women* dressing *appropriately* and the boundaries of appropriateness is definied by men. A miniskirt would be considered illegal in some countries in the east while it may simply be considered bad taste in the west. No one can *force* anyone to wear anything they dont want to, and no one can force anyone to not wear something they want to. Hence fashion plays a much less role than say banning pants.

Agreed the more pressing concerns of the 3rd world countires would be AIDS and hunger and disease. Agree completely .

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"I'm no good at putting myself in other people's shoes, I'm too busy getting my own to fit." - A.D. (Adam Duritz)


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Confused boy
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It is true that the dress code for women is often given emphasis (at least as far as Western eyes can see), though it is by no means just women who find themselves the victim of dominant cultures that control lawmakers. I came across this today:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/elsewhere/journalist/story/0,7792,968946,00.html

as well as bringing up a similar issue of musical censorship, it is intriguing to note how something as reasonable as a darkly coloured t-shirt signifies evil to some.

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retarded_brat
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Wow...
As a heavy metal fan myself (even though I wouldnt call myself a "goth" because I dont wear tons of black and have piercings and tattoos which are what makes people classify some as goth), I LIKE Manson and System of a Down and all such. It's just personal taste, because I find that rock expresses more feeling, more passion than a lame Brittney tune (no offense). It's absurd to call ME a devil worshipper because of my taste in music! (I dont believe in the devil, I dont belive in God for that matter, I'm a Buddhist!).
This reminds me of how some people claimed that Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were devil-worshiper books and wanted them banned. It's scary the world we live in!

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"I'm no good at putting myself in other people's shoes, I'm too busy getting my own to fit." - A.D. (Adam Duritz)


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wobblyheadedjane
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I remember when the Onion published an article about Harry Potter turning young kids into Satanists, preachers were quoting it in sermons, and a few journalists used bits of it in (non-satirical) articles. It is indeed a scary place when people equate the Onion with serious journalism.

(The Harry Potter article, BTW, was very funny.)

As to the pants issue stemming from the Bible, I think the reference of the Bible is more that women should not wear their husbands/fathers clothes so as not to soil them with their... womanliness, I guess, rather than women not being able to wear men-like attire (such as pants). In Biblical times and settings, most men wore robes because they were cooler in the heat. So really, drawing on the Bible as a source to dictacte that women should not wear pants seems rather silly.


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retarded_brat
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Sorry to sound really naive and clueless, but whats the Onion??

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"I'm no good at putting myself in other people's shoes, I'm too busy getting my own to fit." - A.D. (Adam Duritz)


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Dzuunmod
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The Onion is a widely-read satirical newspaper.

Post edited because I wasn't thinking or looking closely enough.

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...and we raise the white flag, so they can paint it red and blue!
-Joel Plaskett, True Patriot Love

[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 06-03-2003).]


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Confused boy
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Searching archives for Harry Potter now...

Great website. I check it every week.

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'An Anarchist is a Liberal with a bomb' Trotsky


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wobblyheadedjane
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Here's a link to Snopes that includes the Onion's article, as well as where serious people have misinterpreted it. (Sorry to be dragging this off topic so much!)
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Sunset_Rose
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by UKgirl:
"I don't know anything at all about the culture of swaziland, but perhaps this dance is always done topless? It could have been that he was judging her on her ability to conduct an important ceremony (v. important for the wife of a monarch) rather than how her breasts jiggled."

Thats a very good point, and one that I didn't think of, but I still maintain my opinion that its just plain wrong for someone to blame women who wear trousers for all that's wrong with the world.
Can anyone shed any light on this? Is this topless dancing part of the culture of Swaziland?


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