Now that I’ve got your attention…

and in the wake of recent discussions about muslim women and propriety, I’m going to share an entry from my private journal, that I wrote six months ago in my notebook on a trip to Nairobi and never got round to typing up.

The YaYa Centre, Nairobi. Friday Lunchtime [date unknown]

Sexy blonde girl with tight jeans.

Sexy black girl with hipsters.

Sexy Indian girl power-dressed in a suit with shoulder pads, and straight hair.

Nairobi (well, this area around the YaYa) is an erotic barrage. Thank god I had a wank before I came out or I’d be following my balls round tha YaYa centre. More skin than you can shake an erection at!

And yet less than in London, or Leicester. Funny how what I’m used to affects how I react to what I get.

I used to cope with London’s constant beauty pagent, but not without a certain longing to be part of the fast-food sex world. Here I have been managing without those cravings. Here in Tala, that is. Where I’m protected from all apperitions sexual by conservative clothing. Even the school uniforms aren’t sexy (UK schools might learn something), though maybe if you put UK girls in Holy Rosary Uniforms they’d **make** them sexy.

Which brings me, somehow, to female dignity. Last night I read, in my Granta magazine (Thanks Jan!), an insightful view of the mind of Muslims who are offended by the idea that young Islamic ladies should be made to remove their head scarves when they attend school. Those women, it suggests, have dignity while those with bare heads (let alone shoulders, knees, waists, cleavages) do not. Those, it maintains, have been prostituted. The traditional Islamic dress, it says, protects them from the animal urges of men in everyday public life.

Those would be the urges I was just describing above, then, wouldn’t they?

“Ah, but!”, we say, “Men’s urges are not a problem in public life, only in private life.”
But sexual harrassment is a problem even with men who have grown up in a culture of mini-skirts and crop-tops, hipsters and halter-necks. Whereas, my book reports, rape and harrassment are so infrequent, in Mulsim countries where women cover themselves, as to be negligible. (Negligible by whom it didn’t specify, presumably not the few who are raped and harrassed)

Maybe there’s something in it. Maybe that longing I used to feel, to be flirting and fucking among the beautiful, sexy, uncovered women I saw in my everyday public life is felt by all men. And maybe in some men the conditioning, or will power, to behave decently isn’t as strong as mine*, and harrassment, rape and abuse result. I don’t know the statistics.

* I think I am well conditioned, strong willed and well behaved, but that might be a matter of opinion.

The book suggests that the tendancy for western women to uncover themselves, wear makeup and worry about their figures results from The Sexual Revolution. I must say I don’t know what revolution he’s talking about. And oh my god, look at that ass over there!


  1. Mark Says:

    OK maybe not an erotic barrage but I still find my head turns a lot when I’m visiting the capitol. And the difference is due to different dress-sense and levels of tollerance here. The Peace Corps volunteers I have talked to say they get very strong guidelines in their training about not uncoverin their shoulders, not wearing trousers, etc, in order to be "culutrally sensitive". At the end of term when the school kids return home I see some teenage girls in jeans in Tala. They look somehow out-of-place to me now.

    Amazing how my brain has adjusted. This kind of different perspective on things is precisely the reason I wanted to come out here and stay long enough to make the difference **to me**.

  2. tia maria Says:

    if you thought UK school girl uniforms are bad you should see Japanese!!! There is already a big groping problem on the subway and if schools aren’t careful there is going to be a huge paedophile problem there soon !!!

  3. Lydia Says:

    So we get back to the old tale that men cant help themselves and so women should cover up to protect the men from their own urges and its their own fault if they get raped because they wore a skirt that showed their ankles so they must have wanted it. Oh please. Can’t men grow up just enough to keep their hormones to themselves until they’re with a consenting partner. A woman’s dignity does not depend on the men around her.

  4. Sophia Says:

    Good answer, Ludia!


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