There is no absolute freedom without moderation

I’d want to stay off the public stripping debate after some advice I got over the weekend but it doesn’t seem likely. There are a few things to get clear in this whole scenario. The first one is that it’s not in anybody’s jurisdiction to strip another human being for indecent dressing. If their attire makes them indecent, then it beats logic to have them completely naked.

If there’s anything I was taught in my short learning stint it’s that opinions will always vary. The other thing about opinions is that they’re like ideas. They may be stupid or absurd but they are never wrong. I therefore, won’t spend my time writing about other people’s opinions. I’ll just state mine and leave it at that. You however do know that for me to have an opinion there must’ve been a contrary one.

I can’t reiterate how disturbing it is to see a mob tear off clothes from a woman and have mature men busy grabbing vaginas and breasts. This has nothing to do with the fact that I have a mother, sisters, cousins and friends. Absolutely not. It’s a simple case of tolerance and respect. Who’s to blame for what these people did? Their parents? The system? The ladies? I have no answer to that just like yours isn’t necessarily the correct one.

I’ve heard every sort of punishment from castration to life imprisonment. From stripping men peeing in public to chopping off their manhood. Each of the people throwing these suggestions around have a justification and as foolish as I may think some of the opinions are, I’ve still taken time to listen. All these emotions are coming from somewhere and it’s not in my place to tell you why life imprisonment isn’t a solution and neither is stripping or castration.

I’ll pose the same question I posed. Murder and rape are illegal, but are they reducing by any means even with the threat of a death penalty? I’ll answer you. No, they aren’t. The problem is that even in having policies meant to deter such characters, do we have the mechanism to enforce them? We get lost when we confuse the law for justice. These are two very distinct things. I’ll for one tell you even rapists don’t get the same sentence for the same crime. A woman who rapes a small boy is called a molester whereas a man who rapes a girl is a rapist. So justice shouldn’t even be on our tongues when dealing with set mechanisms.

Individuals who have the time to sit at the same place all day with no assured source of income tend to have very inactive minds. If we were to sample the people who stripped these ladies there’d be various deductions from each of them. Some did it out frustrations in life. Others did it because they saw the chance to touch a free breast. Some did it because that kind of dressing isn’t a norm where they come from and they know nothing of tolerance. Probably, one of those individuals had a vendetta against the lady and only used that as a reason to get back at them.

The reasons for their Neanderthal actions may be as many as the people in that mob. I’m not anybody’s defender so I’d like to find out the reason for their actions before jumping into any conclusions. It’s always more beneficial to deal with a problem once you’ve identified its root cause. Knee jerk reactions are only going to stall these hooligans for a while.

I’ll get to what my post was about now. I believe in freedom and love the essence of enjoying it. Without freedom, I wouldn’t be able to write this without fear. But does freedom need to be absolute? As I said earlier, we have different opinions and we can only be so diverse when we all have unique identities. Freedom should be moderated in my opinion. With the onset of absolute freedom, which most people are clamouring for, we can only await disaster.

Why I’m I saying this? Well, I simply believe that even in our objectivity we are still subjective. I’ve seen people posting pictures of Africans in the pre-colonial period with headers #AfricaIn1800 #WhatisUnAfrican? It’s very true that Africans didn’t cover much in 1800. Hell, they flaunted it and were definitely proud of it. They only changed when the colonialists came to Africa and introduced cotton dressing and all that other fancy stuff to them.

Since we are talking about African dressing with so much passion, let’s indulge some more. It was very African among the Luo to abduct a girl you liked and run off with her to your homestead and keep her as a wife. If I did that today, there’d be very few options. Have my face all over TV and the General Service Unit knocking down my door before I’m shot for kidnapping or face prison time.

I’m more of the docile twitter user so I tend to read more than I write. I’ve seen ladies posting things like, “If you don’t go down. It’s not going down.” I’m not sure how African that is but I’ll let you ask someone born in 1930 to expound. I think it’s selfish for any individual to pick out a specific part of history that favours their situation to build an argument.

If we were to be purely African, we’d renounce Western education, technology, mode of dressing and language just to name a few. The same people writing #Africain1900 are applying for greencards and hoping to win a trip to London from Nakumatt at the end of the year. How African are you when you went to Agoro Sare secondary school and you have an accent from Decatur? I’ll take many arguments but anything to do with being African by either the stripper or the stripped is misplaced and out rightly disrespectful to anyone who takes pride in being an African.

Let me tell you something I witnessed when I went to my ancestral land as a child. People didn’t have bathrooms (the traditional one, not what you call a restroom at the bar to sound chic) so they took their showers at the lake. Every morning at around 8am, people would stream down to the river without fail. The first time, I was bit cautious because I wasn’t comfortable showering in the nude with girls my age around me.

But as soon as we got to the lake, people would split according to gender. The females would shower on one side of the lake and the males on the complete opposite side. So when I hear of the African argument I can only shake my head; because even when people had the freedom to walk with their breasts hanging low or pointing to the true north, there was still some conservative nature in us as Africans.

I’m convinced beyond reasonable doubt (which was a classic) that I cannot and will not take part in dictating how women dress. My opinion of the dressing may be full of disgust or admiration but I will keep it as that. It’s very confusing when you see a girl call another girl ugly, shapeless or better yet a slut for the way she dresses but would be offended if a man said it.

With choices come great responsibilities. I would like my daughter to grow knowing I will not judge her for her dressing but the world will. The world does not care that I love my daughter and that I taught her our dressing shouldn’t limit us. I would like to have my daughter walk in these streets comfortably knowing that no sex crazed man will walk up to her and find a reason to take her clothes off her body.

With the internet age you have no limit as to what your children will see. If my daughter grows knowing she can release a sex tape with her boyfriend for some little boost in her career, I have failed as a father. If my daughter grows up knowing shaking her ass on a music video will make her popular, I have failed as father. If my daughter has to pack extra clothes when leaving the house only to change outside the gate, I have failed as a father.

If I can’t teach my son to tolerate other people’s opinion, I have failed as a father. If my son can take pride in stripping an innocent woman off her clothes, I have failed as a father. If I can’t teach my son to respect women, I have failed as a father. If I can’t teach my son that not following the masses isn’t wrong, you guessed it, I have failed as a father.

When I say freedom with moderation I stand by it. As much as dressing doesn’t speak of our personalities, it makes an impression. You will not always have the time to stop every person you see to seek clarification on account of their dressing. If you think people will judge you for wearing those tight, luminous jeans you have sagged all the way down to your knees, you have no business wearing them.

We’ll always say if you don’t pay my bills then keep your opinions. I won’t keep mine because as much as I don’t pay your bills, I have seen you and it had an impact on me, major or minor. So I will have opinions. The only way absolute freedom would work is if we operated like animals, in small groups. With set laws and systems, we’ll always run into trouble with people who disagree with what we feel is right. How they handle it will vary, but we need to raise our children to know tolerance and respect don’t harm.

I would apologize to the harassed ladies but I had no part in it so I won’t take responsibility for actions I know nothing of. I will however, make it clear that we live in a world of double standards. The same people advocating for #MyDressMyChoice have very negative opinions on socialites. If we are to enjoy absolute freedom in this world, as long as we can justify ourselves there’s nothing wrong in any of our actions provided it’s justifiable.

To cap off my very long post, I’d advocate for the root cause of this barbaric behaviour to be determined and acted upon. If we just go arresting people, it will deter them from doing it in the daylight but what about our sisters and mothers at night? Let’s remember that tolerance and respect will achieve far more than brute force, double standards and barbaric acts. It’s a social issue that needs to be addressed.

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