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posted 20 Sept 2016, 08:53 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 Sept 2016, 10:01 ]

Rawle Ramjag

"For the rich, by the rich."

Every government office now, Passport Offices, Schools, Licensing Offices, Social Welfare (!) and the list goes on, has in bold, on its entrance : 








What is this about? Are we now criminalizing wear? How can short pants be illegal? What, essentially, is the difference between a short pants and a skirt? Imagine our taxes are now being used to pay an officer to prevent us from entering a building for which our taxes have paid. And why?

In Guyana too
This nation, which promotes, as part of our carnival culture, all year round, women who could not wear less, (as yet), performing the most suggestive mating dances, is refusing to allow entry to a woman in sleeveless. And doing so in the presence of officers who are attired in sleeveless! And what about young men who wear their pants down by their thighs with their drawers and half their arses exposed? This is okay? What is 'revealing clothes'? Is this qualifiable? Quantifiable? What are the yardsticks?

I witnessed 5 women being told that they could not sit, nor be attended to, at the Social Welfare Office in Tunapuna because of their dress. This reeks of unconstitutionalism and moral misappropriation. Although I agree that dress plays an important role in our general conduct, this, like manners, cannot be treated in a legal framework. To do so will lead to the criminalization of certain types of wear. In a plural society such as ours, we cannot afford to legalize, institutionalize nor regularize the way our people dress. Who will be the moral police? Who are they now? Who are these purists who conceal themselves behind the veil of 'management' and draft up these archaic rules?

When the 5th woman was being chased out (by a female security officer), I had enough and decided to intervene on her behalf. The security shouted at me that I “should go dong tuh de market an’ buy a bra an ah panty an’ put it on an try tuh see if yuh could come back in hyere”.

The next officer called for backup and I was surrounded by five security officers - all this, for questioning the discretion of their code of dress. Civilians must be vigilant of their rights else it will be taken away by governments and their puppet security forces. See what happened in France (police forcing women to wear less)! Imagine, in a country (France) where women bare their bottoms, breasts and vaginas, a woman cannot wear a veil!

Ironically, in Trinidad & Tobago, both the prime minister's wife and the president's wife often

wear sleeveless to official functions locally and abroad. And how is a tube top different from the president's wife's 'skin-coloured belt'? In fact, judging from the news, sleeveless seems to be one of Sharon Rowley's favourite forms of dress, just like the queen of England (in her youth), just like the First Lady of USA, and Mexico, and France. (Frankly, we allow heads of state to carry their wives all over the world modelling in the most expensive dresses, as if they (wives) are contributing something to the meetings, while we cannot even take our wives to our staff lunch. We don't see Putin exposing his biceps). 

If these women can represent their country in sleeveless, what is the problem with someone entering a government office in similar dress? But they do not have to. We do not see the likes of them lining up in government offices. Have you? Has anyone you know? If the rich and powerful had t
o line up like the rest of us, things would change for the better, would it not? 

Maybe if Mrs Rowley and Mrs Carmona were poor and destitute, like many of the women who have to face (off) with Social Welfare Offices and other similar oppressive places, they would seek to retract this advantageous regulation. But a poor person cannot enter a Social Welfare Office in sleeveless. What hypocrisy! 

The 2nd irony was that there were 4 officers or workers behind the desks dressed in sleeveless. The 3rd 
irony was that the only other person to lend support to the poor woman was a man. Not only did no woman support the distressed woman, but they accused her of dressing immorally, ('It good fuh she!' Do we need Rachid Nekkaz to come and fight for our women?) Interestingly, the woman chased out was young and beautiful; the women chastising her were neither. 

And finally, when I went back to my seat, on the TV in front of me was one of our carnival scenes showing 2 obese, bikini-clad women, one bent over and the other thrusting at her from behind. (But that's ok. Even our prime minister takes an occasional public wine.) Not only that, but there were a few women in tights so tight that every crease and fold were outlined. But that's ok too, just no sleeveless.

And what about people like Kirk? He has severe damage to both his knees making it painful for him to dress in long pants. But he must wear long pants to be admitted into the health clinic. To examine his knees, the doctor asks him to either remove the pants or roll it up to his thighs. Would it not be sensible for him to just wear short pants? How about if he just wears a short skirt -seeing that this is allowed?

What about people with damage to their arms? Certainly these rules have not been thought out carefully. A walk through the hospital wards will reveal people slung up and exposed in the most embarrassing manner. How does the hospital administration plan to deal with this?

Zena not Xena
But they (the government) are not done with us yet. Look! The Ministry of Education along with the National Parent/Teacher Association headed by Zena Ramatali, is now seeking to instruct teachers how to dress. And let me say it for them - female teachers are not dressing appropriately. Shame on you, ladies! Cover up your sexy breasts. Hide that arse. Waist-to-hip ratio too small? Wear baggy clothes! Tie that long hair in a bun. You are not here for your looks, you know!

They want you to look as unfeminine and repressed as possible. We want our schools to be as
Xena not Zena
removed from the real world as possible. We do not want our youth to be aware that sex sells! Give them a chance and all teachers will look like Zena, (sorry, not the Warrior Princess). Look out, teachers: here come the new dress codes! One for each department: Science, Sports, Art, Industrial Arts and the rest.

On the bright side though, the Ministry will be giving teachers a clothing allowance; but with what they pay teachers, we can expect to see more of them. And how dare Franklin Khan suggest that teachers are demonstrating a lack of discipline! All educated people are aware that those who are not subjected to discipline at home will get it at school.

There are far more important issues for the Ministry to address - prompt teacher replacement, unsuitable curricula in most government secondary schools, incompetent school supervisors, poor infrastructure in primary schools, science component in primary schools. Mr Khan, Mr Garcia and Ms Ramatali should be appreciative of the tremendous work that teachers are performing in this country. It is primarily because of this that we are at the top in the Caribbean.

The problem is exacerbated when we consider the advocates of these absurd regulations. This issue of the rights of civilians to dress as they see fit is an extremely important one. Contrary to what people like Ms Springer, Ms Chote and Ms Tyla may think, this is not a matter of racial nor gender discrimination. I do not hear men complaining about women's wear, but I am always hearing women spewing their negative criticism on other women. (Hence the popularity of American shows like What Not To Wear and Fashion Police).

It was the Rani of Travancore who declared that 'women had no right to wear upper clothes like most non-Brahmin castes of Kerala', eventually leading to the Channar Lahala (revolt). It was the Queen of Attingal who sentenced women to have their breasts cut off for covering their bosom. And it was a man, Ayyankali, who fought for the rights of the Dalit women to wear upper body clothing. It was the Brahmins who instituted the Mulakkaram (breast tax, based on size). Not only that, but these oppressive Brahmins also taxed the Dalits for the wearing of jewellery and taxed men for their moustaches.

It is the women of Africa who perform the sexual mutilation of young girls. It is imperialist France who is trying to
Image result for france police burqini shame Muslim women. It is the security forces (a woman in this case) in America who would degrade a woman and bring her to court without her clothes. It was the Australian puppet police who banned the Papunya community from using a public park to practice a traditional Aboriginal dance because they were bare-breasted. 

These sumptuary laws have existed for millennia: the first written one being the Greek Locrian Code circa 700 BCE. They also existed in most of the “advanced civilizations” worldwide: Rome, circa 200 BCE; Tyrian purple law; China, circa 200 BCE, under the Qin Dynasty; Germany, 1657, the Nurembery Law, blatantly states that the law must serve to differentiate between the different classes; Japan; circa 1650, the Shogunate decreed that the Eta and Hinin classes (filthy and non-humans) could not wear the same clothing as them; Italy, the Renaissance period; France again, circa 1600; and America, circa 1600, the Massachusetts Bay Colony legislated what could be worn according to one’s fortune.

ians must speak up! Too few of us have. Just to mention a few: Errol Kalpatoo stood up against the government decades ago for his right not to wear the mandatory necktie; Stephen Joseph objected strongly to the bank's insistence to remove his cap in 2012 and Rita Le Blanc objected to the Ministry of Education's sleeveless dress code recently. In each case, there is a common thread - it is the rich (and powerful) acting against the poor - the rich, continually frustrating, exploiting and wasting the time of the poor, to keep them there, so they can amass their fortunes by taxing them to death. 

Like most of mankind's troubles, it has arisen because of greed; formulated by the rich to separate themselves from everyone else. 'Some pigs cannot be more equal than others'. We must be wary of laws - made by the rich, for the rich.