Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Contrasting generations and cultures

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Knowing how young men’s minds work - after all I used to be one once - I wasn’t particularly surprised when St Dominic’s Girls College in Henderson suggested their ball-going pupils wear attire that refrained from exposing cleavage, kept any split in their skirts below the knees and covered their backs. I would imagine that’s the sort of advice you’d expect from a catholic girl’s school.

However St. Dominic’s liberal-minded parents were not happy and distributed a well-supported petition which declared: “The rules stated are extreme. Since when has a girl’s back caused such outrage for being ‘too exposed?’ This is sexualising a girl’s body and sending the message that they must be covered up and feel ashamed of showing skin. Girls at this age (16-18) do have breasts and the fact that they must be completely covered is outdated and shameful on the colleges behalf. Girls have backs and legs and breasts. All of which can be shown to an extent that is classy and elegant.”

The petition had the desired outcome. The college principal, Mrs Carol Coddington, withdrew the edict after claiming it didn’t exist in the first place! Surprising, given that 200 girls who attended the assembly where the ruling was announced confirmed its existence, adding that they were also told there were to be “no exceptions.”

The school’s motto is “Veritas,” Latin for truth, which may now be deemed inappropriate.

The change of attitude over a lifetime as to the modesty or otherwise of women’s clothing has been perplexing for the mere male, though we have understandably stood aside without protest. I can even remember back when women’s bathing costumes were invariably black, had straps that held the top section well above the cleavage (though I’m not entirely certain that word was even in existence at the time) and had a skirt across the bottom to stop male minds wandering where they ought not to.

Bikini was a Pacific atoll where the Americans tested their hydrogen bombs.

The Muslim community has made no such progress. Relating to the Hijab, their law states: “Islam holds women in very high esteem and the Islamic rules of covering are intended to protect and guard her dignity and honour.”

This is said to be more the outcome of a male-dominated society rather than the desire of those being dignified and honoured, though why men would adopt this particular consecution is curious.

And wearing seductive garments has not meant women are less chaste. American comedian Dave Barry complains that women might go out for an evening wearing revealing clothing, “gown-less evening straps” he calls them, but are likely to go home and slip into a long pair of Chinese pyjamas, buttoned right up to the neck, “Visibility zero” he says.

“If you start to undo the vestment by the time you get to the bottom button it’s time to get up and go to work,” he postulates.

“It’s alright for Chinese,” he concludes, “They’re more patient than we are; that’s why there’s so many of them.”

But if perchance you think women are the weaker sex, just try pulling the blankets back to your side 
of the bed.

“You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap.” - Dolly Parton


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