Over the last two weeks, the hashtag #MyDressMyChoice has been trending on social media in Kenya following cases of men stripping women naked because of what they deem indecent dressing. This despicable and overly barbaric behavior has drawn mixed reactions from the largely conservative Kenyan public. On one hand, there are those who think it is a woman’s right to wear whatever garments she feels comfortable in. On the other, there are those who feel that women have crossed the so-called red line when it comes to dressing. In either case, a number of cultural and psychological factors influence opinions. Here are some reasons why we have seen Nairobi men strip ladies.
A larger part of the Kenyan population is conservative and is yet to embrace western liberalism in dressing styles. While novel western trends are slowly revolutionizing lifestyle on the Kenyan scene, majority of the Kenyan population expect a lady to modestly cover herself. Any clothing that leaves out acres of flesh, especially near or around the nether regions, is considered indecent. Crop tops and outrageous micro mini-skirts are linked to loose morals. While most Kenyan fathers exercise control over what their daughters wear, some are liberal and do not mind as long as the lass is not naked per se. However, once such ladies venture into the streets, some men in the general public feel they have the authority to discipline them. This is especially true among those brought up in strict, religious families. While men are mostly responsible for cultural intolerance, it is not surprising to find some older women frown and flimsy dressing. They will often sneer at the culprits and wonder what has became of morals.
The rate of unemployment is quite high in most sub-Saharan countries. Kenya being one of them, you will find youth idling around strategic spots such as Kinyozi shops or at bus stops. Frustrated with their economic hunger, these youth are likely to direct their anger at anyone doing better than them. Some will waylay unsuspecting members of the public and rob them at will. This is evident in areas such as Nairobi’s Eastland, where teenage criminal gangs have been reigning terror with impunity over the last decade. Some of these youth idle at bus stops waiting to pickpocket passengers of their valuables. Tales where passengers complain of losing valuables in Matatus are not uncommon. These young men do not think twice when an opportunity to embarrass those doing better than them presents itself. Ladies are at a greater risk because of their inability to defend themselves. The mob mentality common in this society only makes matters worse. People are ready to jump in and mete justice over cases whose genesis they are not even aware of.
Battle of the Sexes
Feminist and human rights activists’ campaigns for gender equality have seen females empowered to the extent that they can comfortably compete with their male counterparts. This has not sat well with male chauvinists who still believe girls are getting undue attention at the expense of the boy child. While some are dealing with this perceived imbalance conventionally, some will readily pounce on the slightest opportunity to humiliate ladies and put them back “in their place.” For the latter, man rules in every space; be it at the workplace, in public, and more especially at home. The sight of a woman driving a top-of-the-range SUV churns their bowels. Do not be surprised to hear them label successful women prostitutes.
Men are visual creatures. I am sure someone has already screamed in protest, like the female legislators did when nominated M.P. Isaac Mwaura made the same statement in parliament. Nonetheless, it is an open secret that men get sexually attracted to women based on what they see—unlike women who heavily weigh on the emotional side. According to a research study published in the US National Library of Medicine, men are more likely to be influenced by visual sexual stimuli than women are. It is for this reason you will find men ogling at skimpily dressed ladies to the point they almost lose their senses. Nonetheless, men have control over how they respond to visual sexual stimulation. While most men have great inherent control over their response to this stimulation, some totally go nuts. The latter crop of men is more likely to initiate, or participate in, stripping of women under the mask of ‘disciplining’ them. Their true desire is to see the woman naked so that they can satisfy their sexual fantasies. Some even go to the extent of touching their victims inappropriately.
The very act of stripping women in public is undignified and shameful, to say the least. However, it is important that ladies have an acute awareness of their immediate surrounding. Other than comfort, choose your dress according to occasion and environment. For instance, a great evening dress may be inappropriate for a church service. Law enforcers also need show greater commitment in bringing culprits to book. This will greatly help in curbing this evil before it becomes a norm.