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swaziland
June 3, 2003 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Pants Are Evil -- at least for the ladies; so says the King of Swaziland. The absolute monarch of this small African nation says the Bible prohibits women from wearing pants, and also that individual human rights are an "abomination." Before you laugh in disbelief (like I did), learn more on Swazi political and religious beliefs inside... (via kottke).
posted by serafinapekkala (33 comments total)

 
I often view this kind of story as an example of how real life is odder and funnier than The Onion. But, curious about this king's subjects, I found some interesting stuff: Swazis are known for a deep belief in mystical, divine intervention into daily life, and for combining evangelical Christian beliefs and traditional spirituality. This columnist in the Times of Swaziland amazed me with his simultaneous criticism of the government and of religious charlatans alongside his own open Christian faith. In the U.S., both secular and conservative pundits jump all over each other for the (lack of) faith that creeps into their political and social analysis...in more than one way, this is a completely different perspective.

Note, of course, the woman in the original article who rejects the king's pronouncement -- right on, sister. I also thought the tone of the article (Reuters, hello) smacked of post-colonial mockery of a backward people...hmmmmmm.
posted by serafinapekkala at 12:48 PM on June 3, 2003


The final paragraph of the 'Pants Are Evil' link is just beautiful.
posted by mathis23 at 1:48 PM on June 3, 2003


This was the guy who brought back chastity tassels, and banned sex (for other people).
posted by SealWyf at 1:57 PM on June 3, 2003


I used to date a girl named Chastity Tassel.

God did she look great in a pair of jeans.
posted by mathis23 at 2:06 PM on June 3, 2003


Well, I dunno about "evil", but when I worked at EDS, women weren't allowed to wear pants. I still have the dress code memo somewhere.
posted by dejah420 at 2:07 PM on June 3, 2003


post-colonial mockery of a backward people...hmmmmmm.

Is it mockery when they deserve it? Seriously, as noted in the article, this king has issued many a goofy ruling that his people don't seem too quick to obey. I bet many swazis mock his little pronouncements as much as we do.
posted by monkeyman at 2:26 PM on June 3, 2003


Well, that settles it. I'm taking off my pants right now.
posted by JoanArkham at 2:26 PM on June 3, 2003


In the Bible, God says all gays should be killed. The pants bit is fine in comparison.

And while we're laughing at absolute monarchs, how about those crazy Saudis? My dad's colleague was once interrogated by police after his wife revealed her tongue in public. She was licking an ice cream.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:27 PM on June 3, 2003


are we talking trousers or underwear?
posted by twine42 at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2003


I wonder how the Pres would feel about No Pants Day.
posted by modularette at 2:53 PM on June 3, 2003


*King, not Pres...(damn these pants!)
posted by modularette at 2:54 PM on June 3, 2003


Deuteronomy 22:5 There are a number of Christian groups which still advocate a separation in the styles of clothing for men and women.
posted by newlydead at 3:08 PM on June 3, 2003


Deuteronomy 22:5 The link as it should have been.
posted by newlydead at 3:19 PM on June 3, 2003


I disagree. Now Dockers; those are evil.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:35 PM on June 3, 2003


Their beliefs differ from ours; we must liberate them. Also, serafinapekkala, I think you meant "neocolonial." postcolonial theory attacks the 'backward people' approach--without unlimited success.
posted by squirrel at 3:54 PM on June 3, 2003


Why spare only women from accursed pants?
posted by ednopantz at 4:00 PM on June 3, 2003


I’ve longed believed that pants are evil. My last six employers have disagreed, however.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:34 PM on June 3, 2003


Thanks for the interesting link, newlydead. A perusal of the index reveals that those Adventists have some pretty darned, uh, liberating views on lots of things... including the liberty to kill for peace . When I gaze at the sky, I can see a smiling Jesus flipping our planet the bird.
posted by squirrel at 4:54 PM on June 3, 2003


Personally, I thought that dogs wearing sweaters was the cause of the world's ills, but if the king of Swaziland says it's women wearing trousers, who am I to argue? After all, he's the king!
posted by Ty Webb at 5:18 PM on June 3, 2003


Personally I could take this guy just a wee bit more seriously if he wasn't collecting a harem at the same time.

I wear pants to church sometime. Roof hasn't caved in yet.
posted by konolia at 6:19 PM on June 3, 2003


I bet many swazis mock his little pronouncements as much as we do.

I believe that many exposes of the king's behaviour have been by black newspapers in South Africa (e.g. The Sowetan), whose readerships include many people of Swazi background. So, yes.

Dr. Hastings Banda, formerly of Malawi, introduced similar laws (no trousers for women, long hair for men etc.), which were also inspired by his fundamentalist Presbyterian beliefs.
posted by plep at 12:32 AM on June 4, 2003


I hope he tells us to burn our pants next. These things have been driving me nuts!
posted by arto at 2:46 AM on June 4, 2003


Jewish women who belong to the ultra-orthodox sects are also expected to refrain from wearing anything that looks like "men's clothes." I'm told by a Lubavitcher cousin that women can get away with wearing pants so long as they don't look like men's pants--e.g., with a side closure instead of a front fly. Mileage might vary in other Hasidic groups.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:21 AM on June 4, 2003


So King Horndog has nine wives, which he selected by watching topless videos, and now he doesn't want them to wear pants because the Bible tells him so? I guess he does want to know them biblically.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:20 AM on June 4, 2003


> I also thought the tone of the article (Reuters, hello)
> smacked of post-colonial mockery of a backward
> people...hmmmmmm.


...not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by jfuller at 7:21 AM on June 4, 2003


One of the reasons I quit christianity at an early age was this very class of dilemma. On one hand Jesus purportedly summarises his message as "love your neighbour as yourself", and on the other, the ensuing religion has this legacy of a book-full of misogynistic claptrap, perpetuated by old-world bigots who think they're justified thereby. So I personally chucked out the baby with the bathwater. After all, if we're going to divine our moral foundations from old books then Charles Kingsley managed to summarise it just as well with Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby ... and it was a better read to boot.

I am aware that I'm not exactly being politically correct in all this. So if I'm trampling over your beliefs I apologise, but they can't be half as trampled by now as are mine.

Anyway, to come back to the point: it angers and confuses me that someone would attempt to denigrate approximately half of a population, based on the sacred text of a religion which also supposedly embraces tolerance and equality as its core values. And whilst I am aware that many christians are nothing like the King of Swaziland, I have to wonder why one would feel faith in a god whose supposed word demands all of this.

Or, to put this all another way (which doesn't pick exclusively on christianity): what makes one become part of any religious organisation, when they are all so clearly flawed (and many of them in exactly the same sorts of way)? I can half see the point of the fellowship idea, but I certainly don't want to sign my mark to something with which I cannot agree in part. Like a sort of Pascal's wager in reverse. And this is the point of this long-winded comment, I suppose: is it not better to try to work out the best way to stumble through life oneself than to hang on the words of potentially dodgy preachers? Even if one or more gods has an unatural interest in our potentially everlasting souls, is there any reason to conclude that they will treat them better based on our acquiescence to the words of a bunch of half-mad, power-crazed nutters? Then I guess I have answered my own question.

Ok, pants back on everyone. Unless you have a particular yen for pantlessness ...
posted by walrus at 8:04 AM on June 4, 2003


> On one hand Jesus purportedly summarises his message as
> "love your neighbour as yourself", and on the other, the
> ensuing religion has this legacy of a book-full of misogynistic
> claptrap, perpetuated by old-world bigots who think they're
> justified thereby.

Within a very short time after Jesus's death the church mutated into something that cannot possibly have been intended. It acquired secualar power, for one thing (becoming the established state religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine--bad move #1). Since then it's historically been dangerous for any given Christian to go around taking Him at His word.

For the present I recommend the Church of England (in the US, the Episcopalians.) These ultra-trendy folk do not, as far as I can determine, require that you believe anything in particular. I was fortunate to have been born into the denomination; it is a refuge for heretical cults-of-one like myself (and thee also, I gather.)
posted by jfuller at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2003


and thee also, I gather

To an extent, except for the little matter of faith. I suppose I (like Mulder) want to believe. I don't fundamentally, or at least not any more than I believe in the absence of the numinous. Actually, I think I'm fairly agnostic, or at least very changeable. But I am a fan of the golden rule: it just sounds right. That makes me a fan of Jesus, but not particularly more so than, say, Mohatma Ghandi.

The CoE has always struck me as much closer to what I would expect christians to be (going by the words of christ) than many who label themselves such. I don't think it's for me though. I'm a lonely heretical cult-of-one!
posted by walrus at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2003


For the present I recommend the Church of England (in the US, the Episcopalians.) These ultra-trendy folk do not, as far as I can determine, require that you believe anything in particular.

Unitarians anyone?

Credit to Garrison Keillor for the following:

What is a Unitarian? An atheist with kids.
Why are Unitarians such bad singers? They're always reading ahead to see whether or not they agree with the words of the hymn.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:36 AM on June 4, 2003


Walrus, anytime you add the "people factor" to ANYTHING you have pretty much wiped out anything even approaching perfection. Kinda like "you'll never find the perfect church. And if you do, the minute you become a member the church will no longer be perfect."
posted by konolia at 12:37 PM on June 4, 2003


Venus Capris OTOH, maybe his highness would like some Capris from Venus?
posted by newlydead at 4:03 PM on June 4, 2003


Cheers konolia, you and jfuller have actually given me a slightly different way of looking at religion. And in my case I would definitely have to agree with that last part.

Venus Capris are like pants of mass destruction, newlydead. I'm sure that's exactly the kind of thing he was worried about.
posted by walrus at 1:19 AM on June 5, 2003


oops. thanx for the unitarian link too
posted by walrus at 1:21 AM on June 5, 2003


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