I love this my country. I love it not just for the usual stuff; the weather, the animals that roam outside all our gates etc; but also for the drama! We have drama befitting of Nollywood. It still is a wonder how we have not yet conquered this billion dollar industry by producing drama filled suspense full movies. Anywho, this week we did not disappoint. We have released a new set of suspense filled drama. We are calling it #mydressmychoice.
The first time I heard about the lady who was stripped because of her dress code, I was sad. I thought what madness is that. However, my mind decided that every market has its madman and that this was a very sad and very unfortunate one-off event. That was until I heard this had been repeated and yet again someone had been stripped, the fruit of that we ignored the first time it happened. This time I was enraged and angry. Stripping a person in broad day light is tantamount to rape! In broad day light! All in the name of a dress code! Really? If you have travelled to some nations during summer you know we are still a saint of a country. And regardless, who gave people the right to defile someone due to their dress code.
But what was surprising was the turn that this conversation took. I watched like the great movie lover that I am, but in utter disbelief. It started with justifying the stripping. Then I guess somewhere along the way the writer of this script realized that line was bound to turn this script into bad move. So the writer of this movie moved the attention away from the wronged chic, the lady who had been demeaned and degraded in public, it moved from being about her to being a dress codes campaign. I wish we apologized to this victim before changing the script but then again who cared.
So like any well written script, we now seem to agree that stripping the lady is wrong. However, we seem to also belief her dress code was all wrong and needs to be corrected. The question we seem unable to answer is how to correct it if stripping the lady is not an option. The script was therefore moved a notch higher, now we are showing pictures of utterly naked women, we are exaggerating the position. No better way to create drama than exaggeration. This one we are not going to let go.
I get the dilemma we are in. I believe in decent dressing, every morning as I look into the mirror I always attempt to answer the question in my head, ‘is this decent or not’.
So many times I will meet with someone who I consider indecently dressed and I am offended. However, the options I have are shake my head and move on. It is none of my business anyway, right?
So I keep wondering why this is not the option we are all exploring and advocating for. Perhaps because we do not want our society to become that society where anything goes? Perhaps because we need to protect our society from further deterioration? Perhaps because we owe our daughters, nieces, cousins better, we need to prepare for them a society where indecent dressing is not tolerated. Perhaps looking away as I do is not sufficient? Perhaps?
If the answers to these perhaps are yes, then our motives then are in the right place.
The dilemma however is that dress code in this country is a personal choice. The only law that I know exists is against public nudity. There is no law on how beyond that we dress. So if we are hell bent on ruling the dresses that the likes of me wear, perhaps we will need to pass a law that takes away the subjectivity. What is indecent for me is totally okay for someone else and vice versa. So the only way out is to actually draw diagrams and put them in our laws and use this to determine what is indecent and what is not. I dread to see where that path leads us. Perhaps a worse place than where we are now
Why is that? Because dressing is a moral choice, period.
Dealing with the moral choice
We need to deal with this dress code as a moral choice. The question then is how do you deal with moral choices? For starters, respect that they are personal choices, driven by personal experiences. And as with all other personal experiences, we have a greater Teacher that we can learn from. He was faced by moral dilemmas as well.
The Pharisees have a caught a lady committing adultery. The society abhors this behavior, rightfully so. They like us would want to have a society that’s free from such norms.
So they want to do what is easiest to do, what the law prescribes. They want to stone the lady. Kinda like us, if it is not stripping the lady, it is shaming her away. But Christ has wisdom that I desire upon myself. He turns down and he asks that if any of them had never sinned, to be the first to throw the stones at this lady.
Surprise, no stones, not even one, shock! This very moral people are sinners, shock! You mean in between these men and women that are ready to stone this lady are sinners as well? Amazing, I was under the impression they are perfect people.
But that is not the end. Christ has defended this lady. He has stood by her in her moment of need. She will do as He says. So when He says go and sin no more, she will do just that.
I wonder if we can learn something from this. I wonder if we are not further entrenching indecent dressing by fighting it as we are. You see the thing with moral issues is you can only deal with them from the root and even then, it has to be done with a lot of love. Why is this lady feeling the need to dress indecently? What has made her make this choice?
If you are worried about your kids, nieces, I tell you we live in a changed world. The solution is not in closing her eyes to these issues, the answer is in opening her heart to the CHOICE not to.
More dilemmas on the way
As I have worked with Lapid Leaders Africa, to prepare young guys to be leaders in their generation, one of the things God has convicted me of is that Africa is changing. We are at crossroads. Conversations like dress code are just the beginning.
The reality is the youth and children of this continent have grown up in a different era. And yet they are the ones that will determine the fate of Africa. So we must all begin to invest in them. Talk with them (not at them). Help them discover who they are and what they represent. Teach them to be leaders that will choose a path that is not always popular just because they are leaders. Their world will have many more moral choices than we all have had.
Do we want to impact the dress code of the next generation? Do we want ladies and gentlemen that will dress up in a manner that’s not offensive? Invest in them then. Talk to them. Help them begin to know who they are what they represent. Deal with the root of the issue. My dress code is just a reflection of what is already inside, and that no amount of laws or stripping can change.
I choose to turn away from the easy route. I choose invest in the next generation. That is the only true way to breed the society we want to have.