Harare, Zimbabwe 2014. Viral videos of women getting undressed in broad daylight in the CBD and a revolutionary mini skirt march on a cloudy Saturday has made our way of dressing, a major topic
As a blogger, who happens to be a feminist, working in the CBD I have a few lessons I learnt about Harare’s culture towards women’s dressing
The Politics of Women’s Dressing
From listening to Chimamanda’s FLAWLESS speech on African feminism, having hips and curves is a crime for women. We are raised to be ashamed of our sex appeal. Those without curves, resort to butt pads and are made to feel unwomanly…
Now this idea is indoctrinated in our minds, as females (at least from a girl who went to a catholic school), one’s dignity is in how they seat, talk, walk, address peers and combs her hair. The pursuit of perfection.
In Zimbabwe, touts are not the only people who feel they should judge how we dress. Male colleagues in general will talk about my clothing in conversation, and motherly figures will also have a chat or comment on how we dress. Most coming from a conservative church background to justify their opinion.
IT IS UNFAIR. Yes.
BUT having been to Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, Kuala Lumpur: conservative nations are not about women showing their shoulders and thighs. That is the REALITY
SECONDLY, we live in a superficial world where how you dress does determine how people will receive you. At work I make an effort to be office chic and stylish. So I can be taken seriously.
My friend a pharmacist, dons her beautiful shift dresses at work to wear with her professional jacket.
There is no where in this world where we can be allowed to ever be free, how we dress is how we will be addressed.
SAFETY in the streets
However there is a need for women to be allowed to be unique and dress how they feel without being physically attacked. We need safe transport systems, the problem is not only about kombis. People need public transport with sanitation and safety as a major concern. However the POLICE are anti-kombis as well, making passengers at risk. I also have heard that being a woman after dark could get you arrested for loitering as a prostitute.
I also feel too scared to go out with my girls only, without a male chaperone to protect against an aggressive partying guy from demanding some bootay!
In my opinion, its more than just touts. Its the energizer bunnies on these streets that think a woman NEEDS male attention.
Until infrastructure is put in place for our safety in the streets, wear a long kaftan and headpiece in the CBD to not be bothered and be respected in the streets.
Have a merry christmas,