A Facebook post allegedly from Kingwa Kamencu, arguably the youngest presidential aspirant got many tongues wagging last week. The controversial post ran in part as follows, “In honor of Her Excellency Madam Kingwa Kamencu’s 29th (October) birthday tomorrow, all citizens of Kenya are requested refrain from wearing underwear in accordance with Pillar Three of her campaign- An Underwear Free Africa (AUFA)”. Despite the fact that I could not locate an official verification from Kingwa who has become quite the adept student of sensationalism, I would like my view on Underwear Free Africa campaign heard.
There is really nothing controversial about a woman going commando until it becomes public knowledge. In a free society, women can opt not to wear underwear and with proper skirt length and fabric and no one can tell and so no one cares. However when the no-underwear stance is made evident it draws loads of attention from curious male onlookers and a few disapproving females. There are a few things that heighten a man’s curiosity like the promise of nudity. Free booze comes a distant second.
Women who use this tactic understand its power especially when the senses are assaulted with the allure of a short skirt. When a woman wears a ridiculously small miniskirt to a public space it is inevitable that she would end up flashing her private parts every time she shifts her position. Instantly she loses any rights to privacy and exposes herself to equal opportunity ogling. Men are by instinct voyeurs until we are trained better, to be respectable members of society. I would attribute it to a subconscious impulse to lust which is why wise mothers teach their daughters to sit ‘properly’.
Wearing a micro or revealing skirt with nothing underneath will register as an act of flirtation when flashing occurs. Popping cleavage triggers the same response. In official settings they can be very distracting and time consuming. Like in the animal kingdom, flashers draw attention to themselves coaxing the male’s mating instinct enhancing our concerns for the survival of species.
On the other hand going commando is not a big deal for guys because male clothing is designed to cover the vitals. Radio presenter Maina Kageni enjoyed a bit of notoriety with his ‘ngotha-less’ (That’s Sheng for going commando) references some years back but it was viewed more as a publicity stunt. Going commando is a cultural preference in many parts of the world not encumbered by conservative Western values. Scottish kilt wearers are still held with legendary regard for their commando ways. In hotter climates going commando is the choice for comfort as underwear can be stifling. Most men who wear shukas prefer to go commando, simply because of ventilation and the freedom to hang loose.
But in the unfair patriarchal society that we live in women would be advised to refrain from loudly announcing their intention to go commando for these reasons. In a younger man’s world, courtship boils down to pestering a woman until she gives in to your wants. Given the amount of rejections a man faces in his regular dating life span, courtship is reduced to a game of chance and stumbling upon a woman ‘commandeering’ attention will be viewed as luck. For grown men, the unprovoked public display of nudity might be briefly amusing but ultimately simply seedy. Officially it is known as indecent exposure. Very few privileged women can get away appearing in public minus underwear without being labeled tacky attention whores. The first rule of going commando, is don’t tell unless it is part of a foreplay routine between consenting adults.
Flashing stunts nonetheless remains a reliable feminist activism tactic to get men to tune into a political message. That is why I know quite a bit women’s rights issues in Ukraine, thanks to Femen, a feminist political activism organization that stages its street protests topless.
Image source: picfor.me