Friday, August 29, 2008

Measuring Morality

A new circular has been issued from government to heads of departments.. It is a list of what is no longer acceptable dress for the civil servants of the country. It's quite a long list that includes things such as flat sandals, jeans, t-shirts of any kind including golf t-shirts, revealing clothes, tight fitting clothes, and mini skirts that are shorter than 20 centimetres above the knee.

I've considered this. 20 centimetres is quite a distance on my body, my legs are not that long and 20 centimetres puts me into just about a soft porn zone, besides revealing more skin than this 44 year old body should rightly show, but this may not be the case for others. One wonders how the government decided on that figure. Did they bring in a variety of women and measure with a ruler and then take an average? Interesting to have witnessed that.

It also leads you to wonder what about the other parameters? It really does put heads of departments in difficult situations. What is a revealing top? The government might have helped by coming up with a quantitative measurement for that too. Perhaps percent of breasts shown. 20% you're okay, 30% you're teetering on reckless and 40% you are comfortably in "go home and change clothes". And what about tight fitting? My suggestion-you could do a "pull out" test. How much spare material is there to pull out? 10 cm? Fine; 2 cm? Time to get some new clothes.

I'd be curious to know who came up with the list and why. In Botswana, we have widespread poverty, unemployment at over 30%, a double digit inflation, and the much quoted highest HIV infection rate in the world and yet there are a group of civil servants who have likely been meeting for months, discussing and debating, to come up with this list. Is it me or does that seem ridiculous?

Already our new president is putting a 70% tax on alcohol so we can't get drunk anymore unless we want to forego paying the rent, but now he wants us all to dress like 40 year old asexual matrons. What next, a list of the acceptable days for sexual intercourse? Patriotic ways to have fun which include such wild and crazy things such as raking the yard? We already have the "morality" committee moving around the country trying to come up with a policy to guide us through this quagmire of moral decisions we find ourselves facing because we are, of course, all the children of Mr. Khama, not adults with functioning brains of our own. How can we be expected to know what to do with ourselves, we don't even know how to dress? So far the committee has come up with the bright idea to get rid of Childline- a child knowing his or her rights is apparently a big problem for parents who want to beat them to within an inch of their lives, and Ditshwanelo, our human rights organisation. Hmmm… one wonders how everyone being cognisant of their legal rights as citizens of Botswana impacts on our morality. But then I also don't seem to understand how ridding the civil service of revealing blouses, flat sandals, and mini skirts is going improve the country either.


Anonymous said...

Oh for goodness sake, why don't they tackle the real issues? How is such a dress code going to be enforced anyway? Seems they have more important things to worry about. I think governments the world over are guilty of sidestepping the more pressing issues we face. Very frustrating.

Lauri said...

The sad thing is my husband is a headmaster and therefore an implementor of the policy. As you've said Selma- dead frustrating.