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Ripped Jeans – Baring the Holes in the Minister’s Thought Process

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Once again, a deplorable comment has come to light. This time it’s a State Chief Minister (newly elected) who is stricken by verbal diarrhea and is also a moral guardian – self-proclaimed.

Opinion on how women should dress is a curious topic. There are two voices to this. On the one hand, we have people crying foul whenever such statements are made and they build a strong case in support of women (statistical evidence, et al) – why clothes play no role in crime against women.

The other side, equally powerful, continues to rant about Indian culture, putting a premium on how women should behave in society, laying great emphasis on her role as a daughter, a wife, and a mother. But never as an individual. She is always intricately linked to the family and its honour.

Let us be!

The big challenge urban women (in particular) face today is about playing these roles and carving a niche identity as well.Let’s imagine a situation where there’s a sick child and she has to reach the office for a crucial meeting at 8.30 am. Will the husband bear the responsibility and take the child to the doctor? Millions will and an equal number (or more), won’t. If this “disbalance of power” continues then it becomes a social issue. And, if this disbalance raises its ugly head in numerous instances of daily living, then it becomes a tsunami – at least on social media. 

Let us see the other side – the one that spews “culture” all the time. Is there a grain of truth in what they say?

In a public place, the clothes that one wears (both genders included) are largely dictated by the immediate surrounding. If you live in a posh locality where haute couture is celebrated, then you will dress up in a certain manner and feel comfortable in your skin. However, if you live in impoverished parts of town where humans live cheek by jowl and residents fall under the low-income category, then obviously your lifestyle will be very different – the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the kind of transport you use, the house you live in, etc. If such people take umbrage to flashy lifestyles (especially in the context of dressing boldly) then it is understandable. I don’t want to dwell on this point because if I do, I will sound condescending.

The despicable lot is the one that does not fall in this category and yet takes the moral high ground to serve a selfish motive which is often about keeping male dominance alive. Do they feel threatened by women’s sexuality? Are they apprehensive that they might lose control when they see a woman’s cleavage or a swaying gait that puts a pachyderm to shame? Or are they insecure about themselves?

A boldly dressed woman will attract the male gaze in greater numbers and voila, we have serious competition at hand. By the way, women too are equal participants (sometimes) in his charade. 

Who is setting the boundaries?

These answers aren’t easy to fetch. We have seen how some men behave with their wives (code of conduct imposed, etc) but have a different approach while interacting with their daughters. Haven’t we seen thousands of cases where the man is impervious to his wife’s desire but is far more accommodative with daughters?

Finally, here is what I will say. Crime against women has gone up ten-fold – at least the ones being reported, therefore it’s very important to dress in a responsible manner. What does that mean? It means that women should exercise the freedom to dress exactly the way they please; a vibrant democracy gives them the choice. But also be aware of the situation they are likely to be in and the company. Take a call accordingly.

The “Ripped Jeans” remark is deplorable, to say the least. Airports should be safe enough place for women to dress as they please, and we don’t want a country where they have to exercise restraint in such places. If that happens, it’ll be the end of democracy as we know it.

And, sorry, I can’t go to Pakistan. I am fearful of Shoaib Akhtar!

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