Bare breasts are not offensive
Last year in 2016 we had a great time at the Essence Festival
. No, not the one in New Orleans, the one in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa. This was the first time the Essence Festival
was held in South Africa so everyone was excited. This article is about cultural norms, traveling and bare breasts.
Arriving at the Essence Festival
As we were arriving in our Uber at the Durban ICC (International Convention Center) we heard drums & singing from a large group of people. We thanked the driver, hopped out of the car & saw a long line of young women wearing traditional attire. Many of whom had little covering their breasts; some had nothing at all on up top. As an American, you may tense up as if someone threw a glass of cold water down your spine. This is because in our culture we are taught that breasts are not to be seen unless in an intimate setting (or you are a baby looking for a meal). But, we are not in our culture, so should this offend you?
Essence Festival in Durban,. Zulu women walking, some with bare breasts.
We noticed that most other people were cheering them on or simply watching, unfazed by the display of bare breasts. Honestly they were paying more attention to the music and the vibrant colors of the outfits. But... there were a few who had that sour-milk
face as they watched, arms folded in a defensive stance as they justified their critiques of the bare breasts in front of them. In speaking with a few of these people we noticed... they were all Americans. Every last one. One lady actually threw her hands up as if to say Jesus take da wheel
and stormed off.
Offended, or nah...
Of course you have the human right to allow anything to offend you, but you also have a moral duty to understand why
. Why does this particular area of skin offend you? Bare breasts themselves when shown in this fashion are not offensive in the traditional Zulu culture, and if you are in Durban you are in Zulu land. You fly 10,000 miles away from home, intrigued by different culture, food, music, etc. but get offended by bare breasts that are a part of that culture? I know you're mad, but lemme hand you this cape so you can be super mad. We all need to stop expecting things to be like home when we're not at home, especially when it's something as benign as a few inches of skin.
Certainly don't go see the Reed Dance
in Swaziland if this will offend you, loads of bare breasts there. And don't go to Brazil because... women wear thongs and even men wear speedo looking things too. Maybe.. just maybe,... we oversexualize things a bit too much? Maybe our media and the portrayal of women's (and sometimes men's) bodies has something to do with it? Learning about new cultures is great, but sometimes to do it properly you need to unlearn some things first. #datpart
** Come with us in September to the Essence Festival in Durban for year #2!
Experience South Africa 2017