In Defence of Mini skirts

A friend of mine had commented on this post as yet another example of the “miniskirt theory of modernity”(“Afghan women not only attended Kabul University, they did so in miniskirts”). (For those not familiar with the term, it’s not considered to be a particularly valid theory.) And I thought, hey. Why not?  Knowing fully well the subjective definitions of most of the terms I use below, I postulate that:

  1. One of the fundamental aspects of “modern” or just “good” society is education. (Fairly commonly accepted fact, isn’t it?)
  2. Education, at least what most of us consider the “right” kind of education,  is usually highly correlated with tolerance. Of course, there are examples of highly educated but still highly intolerant/caste-ist (better word?) Brahmins, to name just one, but generally speaking, I think the logic works fine (i.e. more often) in the tolerance–>(because of) education direction, if not in the education–>(leads to) tolerance direction.
  3. In an Islamic country, tolerating mini-skirts really is a pretty big deal. (No first-hand knowledge, but again, seems about right.)
  4. From points 2 and 3, an Islamic society that tolerates mini-skirts is at least more likely to be somewhat better educated.
  5. From point 1, a better-educated society is a more modern or at least a better society

Makes sense, no? Of course, there is the fact that even in this “golden age” said miniskirts were worn only by the elite minorities in the cities, which partially proves (because those minorities, at least, were educated) my theory.

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3 thoughts on “In Defence of Mini skirts

  1. First off, miniskirts, tolerance and education are things I’m highly fond of (in that order). 🙂

    My problem with the ‘theory’, if you will, and it’s more of a intuitive reaction rather than a rationally thought out argument, is the latent assumption (and this doesn’t have anything to do with miniskirts per se) that there exists this linear spectrum from savagery to civilization, at the very end of which of course, is Western ‘modernity’.
    Is there only one kind of modernity? Can it only be achieved by trying to mirror the West as best as the rest can? (Coming from me, a very anglicized anglophone, this sounds like a load of tosh I know, but bear with me.)

    Also, what about, say, the headscarf ban in France? A lot of third world feminists would argue that’s just white, middle class women in the West deciding what constitutes ‘progress’ for women everywhere. In fact, many of them have argued the purdah is something liberating (not something I necessarily agree with, but again, one must, in keeping with modernist values, be tolerant of dissent, right?).
    And finally, who says Islamic societies aren’t tolerant? Like any other religion, it comes in many shades and forms. Adoption of conspicuously western ideas/garments doesn’t make it respect women any more/less.

    • Ok, so this was really supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek post, and not a true analysis of what metrics define “civilization”. But anyway. It wasn’t really a “latent” assumption: questioning the idea that there is this linear spectrum is, after all, the core of the objection to the miniskirt theory…

      My contention is this: leave aside the whole question of where miniskirts come from, and consider only this one aspect that is usually correlated with what people consider “modern”(modern in the developed sense, not modern in the disapproving tone of the anglicized-to-the-appropriate-amount aunts we all have), which is education and tolerance. The miniskirts themselves, and even the existence of this linear spectrum or any one definition of modernity(conceding only that all of them share the education/tolerance criterion, which i don’t think is too much to ask) are therefore completely irrelevant to my theory, despite the name.

      Also, what about, say, the headscarf ban in France? A lot of third world feminists would argue that’s just white, middle class women in the West deciding what constitutes ‘progress’ for women everywhere. In fact, many of them have argued the purdah is something liberating (not something I necessarily agree with, but again, one must, in keeping with modernist values, be tolerant of dissent, right?

      Well, from a purely libertarian point of view I don’t agree with the ban on headscarves, but not for the reasons you state, because while some people way well find it liberating I think (and as an agnostic, “anglicized” liberal, this is probably just my bias, too) it is far more likely that the vast majority of women who wear the headscarves in France are doing it because their parents/elders expect them to. But yes, one must be tolerant of dissent, and at least consider the former possibility. So banning is probably the wrong idea, all around. And this makes no difference at all to the theory, because banning headscarves is hardly tolerance, is it? Quite the opposite, in fact.

      And finally, who says Islamic societies aren’t tolerant? Like any other religion, it comes in many shades and forms. Adoption of conspicuously western ideas/garments doesn’t make it respect women any more/less.

      Fair enough. You might note that I didn’t make any comment on the tolerance of Islamic societies in general, only on its tolerance of miniskirts, which I think you would have to agree with me is not very high. Also, respect for women, while also something that I would consider a necessary criterion for a “modern” nation, was not the relevant factor that I considered. Education was. (Although I would have to say, at least the stereotype of fundamentalist Islamic societies that we are often exposed to does not seem like one that is particularly respectful of women, anyway.)

      In any case, I am only claiming a weak correlation here, and noting that there is at least a tenuous theory behind it.

  2. Pingback: In Defence Of Mini Skirts | Plaid Mini Skirts

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