The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

80° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Denim: an outlaw on your hips’

    It’s sad to know that many of you who are currently reading this are probably breaking the law. Yes, it’s true, and the even more stunning thing is that you are most likely a repeat offender.

    By now, I’m sure you’d like to know your crime. It’s simple: In the city of Tucson, it is illegal for women to wear pants.

    Odd as it may seem, the city did at one point pass a law prohibiting females to partake in the joys of Levis or any other article of clothing containing two separate “”sleeves”” in which to house your legs. But there’s something even more surprising than this revelation: It seems the idea for such an act may have been less original than it seems, as it was also witnessed in a city in South Africa.

    Before a connection between the two can be explained, the issue at hand must be a little more deeply addressed. It’s probably pretty safe to say that nearly every girl you’ve ever seen in Tucson has, at one point or another, been guilty of breaking this law. Yet when taking into consideration the vast amount of other crimes and violations that law enforcement have to deal with on a daily basis, this one seems a bit frivolous.

    There really isn’t much to explain about the restriction. It’s short, sweet and self-explanatory. In as much as I can gather, the law seems to just be overlooked. The original reasoning behind the ordinance is unclear, but a safe guess might be that in earlier times, before the establishment of equality between men and women, pants on a woman may have been perceived as inappropriate, considering the social standing of women in the previous century. In other words, back in the day, men may have been intimidated by women who “”wore the pants.””

    Now for an international perspective. In July 2007, News24.com, a major news source based out of South Africa, reported a new ordinance in the city of Duran, which made it illegal for women to wear pants. Like the Tucson law, this restriction was not on all clothing worn below the waist but, more specifically, on the casual wear of jeans or any other article with two leg-openings. The story reported one incident in which a woman was stripped naked in the middle of the street and banished from a suburb after having her home burned down by an angry mob.

    A local social anthropologist said he believed the recent uprising could have to do with men’s changing attitudes – a regression, if you will, which the professor referred to as a result of “”…globalization, which had made people romanticize about the past.”” To put it a little more simply, the international influences of Western culture didn’t really appeal to the men from South Africa.

    So the connection comes in the form of two questions: Why, in Tucson, is this frivolous law overlooked and not overturned, and will history repeat itself? It is true that the law stating women cannot wear pants was instilled early in the last century. But if South Africa is regressing back to the ideals of a century ago, is it really so far off to say that we might be on our way backwards as well?

    Though it may seem far-out and ridiculous to compare a U.S. city to one in an African nation, consider this: The law is still intact. How long will it be before it is no longer overlooked? And though this is a possibility, it is not a likelihood.

    Nevertheless, it is a window into a broader spectrum and we should take from it a simple message. We all have freedoms that we expect will always be there (e.g. wearing pants, making money, voting for elections, etc.) My advice is this: Take advantage of those freedoms – don’t take them for granted.


    – Isaac Mohr is a journalism freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search