The irony of propriety

In the North of Cameroon, a predominately Muslim area, for a lady to reveal her upper arms, shoulders, and hair is to be shamefully exposed -- yet women's slips and underwear are displayed prominently by vendors in the market stalls.

That the latter should be a non-issue when the former is anathema seems a contradiction to me. But I'll take it as proof that ideals of propriety are culturally defined, not derived from an absolute standard.

Even more ironic was an old lady selling tomatoes by the side of the street in Maroua: her head and arms were properly veiled by her pagne, but reaching forward to display her wares displayed a bare chest underneath the cloth.


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