Does an anklet signify promiscuity?

Through history, anklets have meant different things to different people

First, what is an anklet?

An anklet is a piece of jewellery — usually a chain or beads or both — that fashionable women ordinarily wear around their ankles as a fashion statement.

Nigerians sometimes call it, ‘leg chain’ or ‘ankle chain’. It is also sometimes called ‘ankle bracelet’ in pop culture terms. They also usually come in different forms.

Through history however, anklets have connoted different meanings to different cultures and yes, it does mean promiscuity to some cultures — ancient or contemporary times.

Earliest usage

While Egypt is usually credited as the first ground of usage, India seems the first major ground for accepted usage as part of the pattilu, payal or nupu. It is also called Paujinupur or the padapadma.

Early history documents the Silappatikaram, a first-century story of the anklet and Rajasthani women were also heavy anklet users.

Traditionally, to the Odisha people of India, only warriors could wear gold anklets. Brides also wore them as part of their complete wedding regalia.

In India, they were mostly worn by married women to distinguish them in India while the ones with dangling bells were worn by dancers.

Early forms of use also traces to ancient, predynastic Egypt where it was a form of class distinction — to tell rich from poor. Wives of rich men wore gold chains while the slaves, poor or plebeians wore silver, metallic or leather anklets.

Of course, it was about conforming to the social strata or affordability. Still, it was a fashion accessory. They were also called menefret or kholkai.

Several accounts however claim worshippers of the deity, Baal prescribed anklets for prostitutes — those accounts however remain largely unconfirmed.

These days however, Egypt no longer uses such conspicuous fashion accessory due to the rise of Islam as the major religion in the region — dancers still wear them, however for noise effects of simply accessorizing.

Examples of such dancers are belly dancers.

Modern usage and warping of its meaning

Anklets became mainstream pop culture accessory, most notably as part of the ‘slut revolution’ circa 70s America, just after the advent and experimentation of the ‘roaring twenties’.

This era symbolized expression amongst modern women to act according to prerogative. It was also a time of sexual liberation.

Anklets also became a popular accessory with women of this time, that probably warped the perception of anklets as accessory for promiscuous women.

From then, it became a symbol for a “hotwife” and there are peculiarities to that effect. It is a sign of availability. Others might see it as a simple fashion accessory, but, it doesn’t excuse its symbolism for promiscuity and sexual liberalism.

Who is a ‘hotwife’?

This is simply a term for a married woman, still open to sexual relationships with other men, without objection from her husband.

Around October 2017, for EliteReaders, Faye Williams broke down the various signs of a hotwife in relation to anklets in the following manner;

1. Hotwife: Two male symbols, one female symbol — This is a conspicuous symbol of availability to availability to any race of men.

2. Hotwife: Queen of Spades — Letter ‘Q’ and spade symbol symbolized preference for black men.

3. Hotwife: Heart symbol — Heart symbol in the anklet symbolizes a happy marriage. It is however open to intimate relationships of mutual benefits.

4. Hotwife: The key to happiness — It symbolizes a happy marriage where the husband can only philander with his wife’s permission.

The game is the game — but must we always judge?

Despite the history, most Nigerian women wear anklets as fashion accessories. Most of them don’t even have the slightest idea of its history as a symbol of class or sexual liberalism.

While the reason these women are judged harshly is understandable and some of these women are modern and progressive by African conservative standards, it does not mean liberal promiscuity in present times.

Let’s just leave anklets for what they are — fashion accessories. Women shouldn’t be judged harshly for their fashion choices as they have been judged harshly for far too long.

It is a woman’s choice what she also chooses to do with her body.

Thank you for coming to this TED Talk.

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