Saint Jasper's Robe is a garment typically associated with the Nathanite faith worn by women known for its strong BDSM connotations. The typical garment sees the woman wear a choker-style necklace with her breasts affixed with nipple clamps and lifted up by straps attached to the necklace, with another strap going down from the necklace from the front and the back in between the woman's legs which places pressure on the woman's vagina and anus. Depending on the model, the straps may be adjustable, and other variants place the choker around the woman's mouth, acting as a gag. Other variants see the woman's wrists and ankles bound or restricted in some way, sometimes with just the wrists bound behind her back or with "prison-style" restraints where the ankles are bound close together (restricting forward movement) and the wrists are tied close to the woman's side or behind her back. Other kinds restrict hand or foot movement completely, with popular styles placing the woman in "frogtie", "hogtie" or "shrimptie" positions.
According to Nathanite legend, the Robe was born in 1872 when the female companion of St. Jasper (the patron saint of Birea) made errors while washing Jasper's actual robe causing it to rip to the form it has now taken. Jasper, in a rage (it is said) forced the companion to wear the robe with alterations and paraded her in the streets of Helene with it on as an act of humiliation. Jasper then addressed the crowd and told them to create their own versions of the Robe that they can then force upon their wives, as the Robe assisted in making the women submissive.
The legend, like St. Jasper himself, is likely apocryphal. The earliest mention of the Robe came in the writings of George McPhail, who was the first one known to write about Jasper. In "Jasper's Street Parade", he accounts the story of the Robe's creation as it is known by the Nathanites, although in this account he asserts the female companion was paraded around the family inside the house, not in the city streets. Later recounting of the tale put the parade in the city streets, although the city changed depending on the writer. The earliest known garment described as the Robe was found in an abandoned apartment in Warricksville in 1935, while the first reports of women who actually wore it date to 1938, on a beach on Celebes. From there, its popularity exploded, expanding outside of Birea after World War II.
BDSM usage and cultural appropriation allegations Edit
In 1981, Roman BDSM exhibitionist Gallerina wore the Robe and promoted its use within the BDSM community, noting the various different types of garments and the options those garments provided for BDSM play. Since then, the Robe has become a popular staple in BDSM circles around the world, with several publications dedicated to its practice.
The surge in popularity among the BDSM community did not go unnoticed within Nathanism, who were swift to denounce Gallerina's usage. Patriarch Jesse XI condemned Gallerina's display at Mass on April 14, 1985, being the first to denounce it as a form of cultural appropriation. Jesse stated in his homily that while he respects that women may "find the Robe pleasurable", Jesse condemned Gallerina and other women for "picking it up on their own", as that practice went against Nathanite tradition which states that the man must make this decision for the woman. Others followed in Jesse's footsteps, denouncing those whose sole motivation is sexual, stating that the Robe's primary function is to "remind the woman she is submissive to her man", with some even disavowing that it has a sexual role at all. It is said that Gallerina's display was so moving for Jesse that he brought in Ingrid for her Crusade, being convinced Birean sexual appetites had gotten out of hand.
Gallerina herself paid little heed to the criticisms, often deriding them as "insecure, backward men", but did once tell the Roman Free Press "the Bireans often forget what Nathanism truly is about. It's about subservience, not slavery, and thus it can't work if the subservient partner isn't a willing one nor treated without respect or dignity."
Bans on foreign soil Edit
Because of the Robe's strong connotations with regards to keeping women "under control" and due to Nathanism's tendency for militarism, several countries, most notably Bolivia, have enacted bans forbidding the Robe from being worn in their territories, even if it is being worn willingly. In Bolivia, a progressive system of fines and jail time is in effect for offenders, with both the male and the female targeted by authorities.
The Bolivian ban came into effect on June 6, 2005, ten days after the rescue of Faiza Mustafa from her Nathanite captors, with Mustafa found wearing the Robe with extensive evidence of physical and sexual torture. The case so enamoured the Bolivians that public opinion was quick to request that the Robe be banned, with considerable concern that the Mustafa case showed the Nathanite community was "out of control".
The ban has become a focal point with Bolivia's Nathanite minority and the broader Petrine-Nathanite relations as a whole. The Bolivians have justified their ban by stating it is "necessary for the ending of the oppression of women" as well as "sending a powerful message that the Nathanites do not have control over our women".
Other areas that have a ban are places like Bolivia where Nathanism stirs strong emotions. Bombay has had a ban in place since July 3, 2010 after a Nathanite truck bomb killed 64 at a nightclub, maintaining that banning the Robe is necessary in order to "keep our women free". Chile, a hotbed for many "outlaw" groups, including Nathanite terrorists, issued a ban on August 15, 2012, stated they were doing so because "female subservience has no place at all in the 21st century". Following a beach attack, Ophir passed their own ban on May 11, 2016, arguing the Robe does not "fit in with a dignified society."
Critics of the ban often cite the irony of countries claiming they are "promoting freedom by restricting the choices of women". Many Nathanite groups strongly oppose the bans, as they argue it "misunderstands Nathanism as it creates the impression that Nathanite women are chattel who have no rights". They note "subservience does not equate to slavery" and that while men may have "power over women", they still have to be mindful of their woman's wishes and respect and honour them. "Nathanite men are supposed to be leaders, not bosses," said Leon Patriarch Carlos Correira when the City of Leon considered a ban. "Nathanism is not free reign to engage in abuse, and a Nathanite who abuses his authority is not a true Nathanite". Correira also pointed out that many Nathanite sects state that for a woman to be subservient to a man she must willingly submit to doing so, a contract she can break at any time for whatever reason.
Roman Emperor Valerius IV, who has maintained that bans on the Robe in Roman territory are unconstitutional, has been a vocal critic of other countries' bans. Valerius often argues that Robe bans "miss the point", stating that "banning articles of clothing does nothing for the freedom of women if nothing is done to address the cultural biases that lead them to be oppressed in the first place". He also believed that as long as the Bireans maintain their one child policy, "nothing substantial" can be done about Birean mistreatment of women, as, he notes, "the scarcity of women ensures that the Bireans will continue to be possessive of them."