Friday, 21 September 2012

Dress and cultural de-sensitising

Here, a secular (as far as I know) writer in the Telegraph points out what I was saying a few weeks ago - something that all people ought to know: pornography is pornography, in whatever context it is presented. Naked or semi-naked people who you are not married to are not for ogling. The context does not make a difference except in the twisted reasoning of people who want to justify what cannot be justified.

Pornography is inherently degrading, and also de-sensitising. My wife and I have realised this in a more personal way since coming to Kenya. Here in Eldoret, we just don't see badly dressed ladies, unless they are prostitutes or Western visitors - and there's not huge numbers of the latter (or the former if you aren't looking for them!). Increasingly though the middle class are aping the West. When we spent some time in Nairobi a couple of years ago, it was a real revelatory experience. We went out to the shops, and were amazed by how many ladies were badly dressed. So, we realised... this is how the non-Western world feels. "Reverse culture-shock", it's called - you suddenly get a personal, non-theoretical insight into how cultural outsiders had been seeing yours.

When female visitors come to see us, we give them a visitors' guide of helpful things to know. One of the matters mentioned is dress. We found that we have to make it fairly explicit in its descriptions, because when we just talked in vague terms, many folk from the West didn't get it. These were godly, serious Christian ladies we are talking about. I wonder why? Likely I think it's that the debased standards of the West have desensitised. What is "normal" has shifted so far, that people still showing far more flesh than other cultures would ever do actually think they're now being conservative.

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