Uhuru Beloved Afrikan Sistas and Brothas,
Last night I caught maybe five minutes of some show on WBAI (99.5FM NYC) that was about women's rape experiences, and one sista who was a victim shared an issue she had with a health teacher she had in school. She said this health teacher, who was a woman, was advising girls to be responsible about how they dress, lest they invite trouble, i.e. unwanted eyes. I was like, yeah, no dah. (Am I wrong? Lemme know if I'm wrong.)
The sista, who had already been a victim, took serious issue with this. She complained to the principal about the teacher, accusing the teacher of implying it's essentially a woman's fault if she's raped because she dressed in a way that makes her somehow "rapeable." (as far as I know, the teacher didn't say that; this was inferred from the victim)
Now of course I don't go that far. That's ridiculous! Of course a man who rapes someone is the only criminal and should be severely punished; the woman is innocent! But I don't see why any ordinary sista, maybe a sista who wasn't a victim, would see it as so foul that a health teacher would recommend sistas to be more modest in how they dress when going out, so as to avoid unwanted attention.
Is it related to being a "liberated woman" that young girls think they can go around half-naked everywhere, even when it's cold, and wear painted on jeans and the like? The whole way girls carry and dress themselves nowadays frankly disgusts me. Matter of fact, painted-on jeans are supposedly a big cause of the recent rise in yeast infections, since no oxygen can get to vaginal areas, and thus, especially when it's warm, sweat can build up and bacteria can flourish in that air-tight, suffocating environment). In full disclosure, I'm not a prude, though I am considered very socially conservative by some, although politically I'm the baddest "commie nigga" there is. I believe patriarchy must be destroyed and is dying out in the world, I believe in the Kemetic way of God and Goddess side by side in the world, in matriarchy, in the principle of woman seeking and having self-determination and freedom within the overall black struggle. I believe in freedom and equality with women, in choice, in the liberation of women from male domination. I believe in more female leadership and charge in liberation and revolution.
But in my war against Western culture and permissiveness, I take issue with what I see in the streets and pretty much anywhere else, and ask sistas, don't y'all have any goddamn self-respect?
Where do y'all learn to dress? (I'm sounding accusatory on purpose) I contend that Afrikan sistas don't naturally seek to dress like sluts. The Kemetic Queens had on beautiful gowns; the color and shape of women's Afrikan dress today bedazzles my eye.
But in a place like NYC where I live everything is hypersexual. Just stare up and you will see sex and half-naked women somewhere, on a billboard, in the subway ads, in the train, on the side of a payphone booth, you can't escape it. Not watching TV or listening to pop-music is not enough, you just gotta cope with all the mess. The white man's vices and addictions are everywhere, beer and liquor, sex-as-marketing-weapon, cigarettes, big fast cars and SUVs, fast-food and meat, video games, tax and banking/ financial services, an ad for everything you don't need, and usually sex and some half-naked blonde in all of this mess.
So I'm not trying to be Islamic about this, I'm just feeling like things are out of hand. To return to my original example, I say, well, there IS merit to not always being in the most revealing sorts of clothing, not in the sort of Western sick society we live in. On top of this, not walking around half-naked alone late at night. Come on! When sistas go out half-naked with painted-on jeans, they get all uncomfortable when men start looking at them, you see them trying to pull their tight shirt over their butt-crack or navel because men be ogling and drooling. Why invite this sort of unwanted, uncomfortable attention all the time?
Man, I see latina chicks with their latino men sometimes, and stroller(!), and the way he got his woman dressed you'd think he was her pimp, walking her to the bordello!
I'm a man, though I try to operate in the cleanest ways; even I sometimes can't help but steal a look at the half-naked ladies out there when you walk the streets of New York City. I try to be stealth-like about it, just take a quick glance and look away quick, but still sometimes my mind is like "DAMN!" And I gotta check myself. I don't ever go out in jeans, though; I associate blue-jeans with everything I hate about American pop-culture, haven't worn a pair in over three years. I wear conservative sorts of clothes mostly, the sort of thing you might see on NOI brothas but slightly more casual, no T-shirts though, a little style, and faux-leather office-type shoes (quality ones I get at this vegan shoe store on the LowerEastSide). Anyway, aside from my hair, a medium-sized Afro that looks a little messy sometimes, I dress the sort of way where I could walk into libraries, office buildings, police stations without too much notice, so as to engage in study, espionage, etc.
The point is, I think dress and style is something to be taken seriously by conscious brothas and sistas, and for sistas, and speaking only as a concerned brotha, not someone trying to be controlling or dictatorial or patriarchal, I just wish it wasn't such a free-for-all out there. I admonish sloppily dressed brothas, too, but sistas, it could be straight-up dangerous to dress like slutty white girls!
ON THE OTHER HAND, I know that sistas in Afrika and indigenous women elsewhere in the tropics, as in South America and the Pacific Islands, in some traditional societies, go around naked - topless, that is. Even in the part of Nigeria my family is from (not every woman). You've seen that one National Geographic video in public high school they show us on that one day they teach something about Afrika.
However I think this exists in a totally different cultural context from the promiscuous, hyper-sexual, nothing-sacred Western society where men are conditioned to think like predatory beasts, where couples don't treat sex as the sacred act it is. Being topless in a traditional context doesn't present men with the same kind of eye-candy it would in the streets of New York or Brick City.
So all I'm saying is, beware where we're getting our dress code from. Some folk who are ultra-conscious wear Afrikan clothing everyday; I wish I could afford to do that. But the BET music video dress code is not one of spirituality, the sanctity of the body-temple, and self-respect. It is not part of being a "liberated woman" or feminist, in my onion. It doesn't engender respect for a woman's body in the eyes of most men and others. So as conscious people, we need to move around, and dress, with some style and grace and beauty, that's all. This half-naked MTV girls-gone-wild business is truly making me sick. I don't want to see my own sistas looking like that. The culture war is ON, even if you live in a sick commercialized nothing-sacred shitty-city like New York.
One last thing, I read this article yesterday from the April 1 2006 edition of Harper's Magazine, on the Congo:
This article is powerful. It's written by a white journalist, there's a little tinge of some of the "Heart of Darkness" kind of writing, but still the article gave me a nightmare last night. It's a long article, 16 pages in the magazine, I needed a good 90 minutes to sit and read it at Brooklyn Public Library (central library) yesterday. The print version also has very interesting, striking photos.
I feel like, if Congo is the biggest ghetto in the world, 10,000,000 times more troublesome than East New York, Crown Heights or Greenville JC, I don't know how the Afrikan can be peaceful in the heart. Congo and the Great Lakes, Uganda, Sudan, that's the heart of Afrika, so it is also the heart of the Afrikan; Haiti in a way too. The most important lands of black peoples. We in the Niger Delta point to the Congo as our origin. Congolese look like family members, as do Hatians. It's high time we set up a serious Pan-Afrikan, Universal Afrikan Army that can get some serious work done, march on Khartoum, take care of business, protect Afrikans everywhere.