Two of my friends, a male and a female were having an argument and i was listening in on them.  Decency was the bone of contention and they both were having a hard time convincing each other of their convictions. The lady argued that decency is a relative word, and what one person considers as indecent dressing is decent to another person. The guy argued that decency is not a relative word. He said that decency means covering oneself up like a proper human being and not causing others to fall into temptations. The lady countered this by saying that it was not her problem if some people had issues with controlling their eyes.

Decency has always been a touchy topic, but we are now in the age where everyone is an advocate of their rights and everyone wants to talk about how they feel. Some people now think because they have the fundamental rights of a human, they can go strutting around nearly nude. Before we examine the issue of whether decency is a relative word or not, let’s first get to the root of the word decency itself.

The word ‘decent’ is gotten from the Latin word ‘decens’ which means fitting or suitable. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines decent as ‘conforming to standards of propriety, good taste, or morality’, ‘free from immodesty or obscenity’, ‘good enough but not the best, adequate or acceptable’, ‘seeming to care about the feelings or problems of other people.’ Now the word in itself is self explanatory. A decent dressing is one that is acceptable by society, one that is free from immodesty and obscenity, one that is worn with the feelings of other people in mind. This clearly states that you should not wear obscene clothes and blame curious looks on the lookers and not on yourself. You might even ask, why should the society dictate the kind of clothes you wear? Well, it is because the society as a whole is a collection of people, cultures and beliefs, and you are a part of it and the things you do have a way of affecting other people.

Personally though, I think a lot of people just use the “free world, free speech” thing as an excuse to carry out their long suppressed fantasies. Society functions properly only when people follow certain codes and do not just do whatever they like. Good orientation and teaching of values, which is now lacking needs to be brought back to the nuclear family. This is a better alternative to public shaming. Imagine a lady being flogged by soldiers for dressing obscenely. What of the video that went viral of a lady who wore a piece of nothing and had it pulled off her in a Lagos market? As people rained insults on her, she wore a defiant look, but she could not open her mouth to state her fundamental human rights. Mtchew. 

Come now, nobody is asking you to dress like Morgana in the movie ‘Merlin’ to be decent. We all know that the age of bonnets, knickers, and breeches is long gone. We are now in the age of crop tops, dress shirts and jeans folded away from the ankles. I do not think that decency should be a relative word. Rather it should be a fact that we apply in our day to day lives. However, you and I both know that in today’s world that is wishful thinking. So, what do you think? Is decency a relative word?

.                                                                                                                                 JENWI

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