Thursday, April 30, 2009

Short Skirts Are Behind the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Listening to the radio at an unnatural hour of the morning, I managed to catch one of those 'issue of the day' debates. Topic: Does sexy clothing encourage people to have unsafe sex?* Most of the people who were polled on the radio (men and women) were of the opinion that it did. I listened in fascinated horror as one guy explained how he assumes that sex with a woman in tight/short clothing is hardly worthwhile unless he ditches the condom...sadly, the interviewer didn't ask him if he used condoms with lovers who wore more conservative styles. I suppose he had already picked up on the fact that this guy was a few bricks short of a stack.

The real clincher came when a lady pontificated at length that it is against African culture to wear revealing clothing of any kind. My breakfast nearly strangled me as I listened to this. Where do people come up with these specious assertions anyways? It is one thing to say that our current environment is conservative and we don't generally appreciate seeing lots of flesh on display, but to claim that the supergroup labelled Africans have always been into neck-to-ankle coverage is just boneheaded.

Our family collection contains the most wonderfully incriminating picture from the 1960s of My Lady of the Saucy Smiles posing against someone's car (The Patriarch is suspected here) whilst wearing a dress which is more like a glorified belt with sleeves. And I know I am not the only person who can blackmail her own mother with such material. How quickly we forget...

Brief hemlines and cleavage valleys aside, the implications of the 'yes' argument are horrifying. The Adam&Eve female temptress vs. stupid male victim argument is a tired excuse. Why do we insist on expecting our men to behave in a bestial manner in this day and age? What is next, justified rape and stone-age tools? Surely we can come up with a better social contract than this.

Of course, people weren't saying that we suffer from some form of sexual dementia so much as exposing our laissez-faire attitude towards sexual safety and our tendency to infantilize men. I confess, I was disappointed that no one spoke about the flip side of the coin, in spite of the high incidence of casual male nudity in Paradise.

* The Kiswahili term for unsafe sex is ngono zembe. Literal translation yields 'negligent fornication.' Somehow it strikes me as a far more accurate description of the practice...

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