There are fashion expectations for women everywhere be it at church, at work, the community and during different stages of life. Women have been raised to cover their bodies, pull their dresses and skirts over their knees to avoid tempting the men in the room. For instance, people will say, please dress properly, there are men. Women’s appropriate dressing is defined by what men find sexually arousing or not. When people say you have to dress modestly and respectfully what they are saying is you have to dress according to what men consider the appropriate standard of dressing.
At church women are advised to wear long dresses and clothes with sleeves, the reason being, they should not be presenting themselves as temptations to men. At the same church, when men are advised on appropriate dressing, they are advised on what is considered decent and smart and nothing to do with women.
At the work place, the same thing happens, much emphasis is placed on women’s dressing. Women are reminded on what to wear and what not to wear to prevent drawing attention to themselves. Women are advised against the wearing of tight trousers, very short dresses and skirts, and sleeveless clothes not because it is professional to do so but to avoid tempting men in the office.
During different stages of her life, a woman is expected to dress differently, she is allowed to dress however she wants when she is a baby. When the same baby she reaches a certain age even as little as 8 she is already made conscious of her body and how it is viewed by the male sex.She is constantly reminded on how she should cover it up. When she becomes a teenager, then by any means necessary, she has to devise ways on avoiding any attention to her body by the way she dresses.
Several women have been judged for not dressing like “they are pregnant” while other women have been ridiculed for not dressing like “a married woman”. A man however is free to maintain the same type of clothing even after he marries or becomes a father. As for a woman, what you wore as an unmarried woman cannot be worn once you get married.
Our society has coined problematic words and phrases which have become part of the vocabulary. such that the way a woman dresses is used as a measure of the amount of respect she has for herself and that which people can give her.
The phrase "amavala modzilemekeza" means someone who wears loose and long skirts or dresses, if she doesn’t then she doesn’t respect herself. Men shamelessly strip women in public places because they feel entitled to do so claiming the woman dressed specifically for them and if she respects herself and didn’t want to draw attention why did she dress like that”? Its high time we completely erased words and phrase like “dress how you want to be addressed, or clothes tell different stories. Such kind of words make people feel entitled to dictating women’s clothing.
As a society, we have to move away from the whole mentality that women dress up for men .It is very demeaning to women as it assumes that women's whole existence depends on men's approval and satisfaction. You can agree that something is really wrong because when you see a well dressed man, you have never thought that he has dressed for someone else, like a woman. This kind of mentality gives men the motivation to perform all kinds of harassment.
Let’s teach our girls and boys as well re educate ourselves that one doesn’t have the right to disrespect anyone because of the way they choose to dress. The way someone dresses has nothing to do with you.