Nudity in tribal African culture, Dipo and other things that twitter misconstrues

We all know for a fact that twitter is a hot-pot for the misconstruction of ideology and perpetuation of utter nonsense.

The most recent trend has been the #FreeTheNipple tag which (i guess) is supposed to encourage body confidence in women and battle the objectification of women’s bodies. Many twitter accounts are using the hashtag and attaching pictures of topless women and/or women with nipple prints on their shirts. To go the extra mile, one tweep made a video justifying the trend with the theory that (I’m paraphrasing) if women in africa can walk to the stream and back topless in clear view of men and children, every woman should be able to. To conclude the very educational clip, he decided to flash her own nipple as well. As much as I’d truly like to believe that this young woman meant well I just failed to understand the point of that video for several reasons.

Indeed, women’s breasts shouldn’t be overly sexualized. If anyone knows the plight of objectification due to a large bosom it’s me. I have never understood why breastfeeding in public was so frowned upon and seen as indecent. The aforementioned twitter vid a point about african culture and nudity. Her claim is that, if nudity is the norm in african native cultures then it should be the same here. Not enough is known about how much colonization affected African culture and how much is genuinely African but there are some issues with such a statement.

African tradition isn’t as ‘innocent’ as we may believe. Yes, tribal women may have walked around topless but that doesn’t mean that breasts were not sexualized. During the traditional coming of age rites of the Krobo people (indigenous to Ghana) young girls are paraded topless and adorned with beads. This is probably one of the few instances maintained in modern Ghanaian culture where such nudity is acceptable. The perception of many enlightened western blacks is that such nudity was common and totally removed from sexual desire, however, this isn’t totally true. The Dipo festival in itself is a process of estimating a girl’s eligibility as a wife. It involved virginity tests and plump perky breasts were a sign of beauty.

 Granted, tribal Ghanaians probably didn’t wear a lot of clothing due to weather conditions but considering pour proven love for textile, it is unlikely that walking around in nothing but a loin cloth was the norm. Those that did were probably young children. Also, the pictures that portray tribal women topless are usually of special occasions where they’d be cleansed or be marked on various parts of their body.

Even if we were to assume that precolonial tribal women did walk around 24/7 topless without sexualisation, this isn’t precolonial tribal africa. For one, going about our business topless would be very inconvenient considering modern day western lifestyles. Nobody wants their hot seatbelts chaffing their naked chest or sit on a dirty bus seat with nothing but a loin cloth separating your lady bits from millions of microbial life. Also, we forget that it is natural for men to be sexually attracted to women. We’re wired that way. You can’t talk about going all natural without taking into account that sexualisation IS the natural thing for a man to do when he sees a beautiful woman. Now the benefit that tribal Africans had is that they had very strict laws against rape that were guarded by gods. Since no one wanted to be struck by lightning or have their member fall off in their sleep they refrained from sexually assaulting women that were not their wives despite their sexual desire for their bodies. The problem with western/modern society isn’t necessarily that we sexualized everything but that we don’t know how to keep those feelings in check.

I probably as a global society isn’t so much in the fact that we don’t accept nudity – being free to walk around half naked doesn’t add or subtract anything to our value as humans. It is being able to teach our generation self control that is paramount and we don’t need to get naked for that. Our men already find it hard enough not to objectify a woman that wears a tight dress and act on this objectification; let’s not jump our horses and ask them to deal with a concept that doesn’t even apply to them. After all, none of us girls is turning up to the office with side boobage on monday anyway.

Stay Ruthful x


2 thoughts on “Nudity in tribal African culture, Dipo and other things that twitter misconstrues


    • Exactly my point. While decency is essential nudity in itself is not the problem when people can’t be responsible. Thanks for your comment.

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