Moral Panic

4 Places Other Than Dadeville, Alabama, That Have Tried to Ban Miniskirts

Spoiler alert: it generally does not go so well.

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ActionAid.org

After striking upon the (mercilessly unkillable) idea to ban baggy pants, the town of Dadeville, Alabama, followed up with a proposal to ban miniskirts as well. Councilwoman Stephanie Kelley said the skirt ordinance would help the city to avoid "showing favoritism," because government micromanaging of wardrobes and free expression "should be for everybody," not just the sex more likely to wear sagging pants.

In attempting to ban miniskirts in modern times, Dadeville joins the likes of Uganda, Indonesia and areas in Chile and Italy. Here's a brief review of how miniskirt-outlawing proposals went there… 

Uganda: In February 2014, the Ugandan government made "stimulating" clothing illegal as part of a wide-reaching anti-pornography bill. "If you dress in such a way that you irritate the mind and excite the people then you are badly dressed," said Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo. "If you draw the attention of the other person outside there was a malicious purpose of exciting and stimulating him or her into sex."

Ugandan women marched the "miniskirt ban," saying it takes the country "backwards in regards to women's empowerment," makes women responsbile for the actions of sexual predators, and would be impossible to enforce. Ugandans on Twitter protested using the hashtag #savetheminiskirt. It's "not about showing off legs, this is about gov't trying to take over our lives," tweeted Ugandan journalist Grace Natabaalo.

The porn bill passed, though it doesn't specifically criminalize (or define) miniskirts. Still, that hasn't stopped Lokodo from speaking as if it does (leading to a lot of the confusion), nor kept hem-length vigilantes from stopping and stripping women in miniskirts for their perceived law violations. And while women in Uganda's city nightclubs continue to wear short skirts and dresses, women have also been sanctioned for wearing them.

Indonesia: Hired to head an anti-pornography task force, Indonesia's religious affairs minister, Suryadharma Ali, turned his sights toward women's fashion in 2012. Ali suggested that women wearing above-the-knee skirts in public could be found guilty of committing a "porn crime." Around the same time, Indonesian parliamentarians suggested requiring female staff to keep skirts and dresses below-the-knee to prevent "untoward acts" by male colleagues. The proposals attracted outrage from women's groups and many on social media, and were never passed.

Castellammare di Stabia, Italy: A seaside town near Naples with a population of about 65,000, Castellammare di Stabia outlawed miniskirts and other "skimpy clothes" in 2010. Breaking the law can earn sartorial rebels a fine of up to €500. The town's mayor simultaneously banned playing football, sunbathing, and men going topless in public places. While there was a lot of (international) media about the ban taking effect, there's ben almost zilch about it after, suggesting either/both little protest from Castellammare di Stabia's small population or little enforcement of the rule.

Coquimbo, Chile: In 2011, the Chilean region of Coquimbo attempted to ban miniskirts for public employees. Gov. Sergio Gahona signed into law the ban on both short skirts and exposed shoulders, but Chile's women's affairs minister and some female legislators protested, calling the ban a joke and refusing to comply. The Gahona administration quickly conceded that the move had been ill-considered and repealed the dress-policing plans.  

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