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What You Wear…

June 14, 2011

Slutwalk is apparently coming to Delhi. About time, I thought, considering that the city has been tagged as one of the most unsafe cities in the world for women.

But then I wondered what exactly would be the point of this walk in a place like Delhi. Creating awareness? It might work sometimes… but the cynical me wonders if men are just going to enjoy the sight of women wearing provocative clothes and there will be more women ragged that day?

Does the concept of Slutwalk really work in India? We’ve heard statements like the Canadian policeman made quite often here. Rape victims are often branded as the culprit and many cases go unreported.

The condition is so bad that if a rapist marries the victim, he is acquitted. The Chief Justice of India called for this to be made a law… ‘course he said that wishes of the victim need to be considered and if she wanted to marry the rapist and the guy is willing, so be it. But has one considered the social pressures the girl in under?

It is often construed that a woman who wears a skirt, tight jeans or a low-cut top is asking for attention. And worse. Perhaps some women do like to be noticed but how does that give anyone a right to abuse it?

A well-dressed woman always attracts attention… but being well-dressed does not mean she wants the attention of a man. How do some people do not get the concept that some people like to dress up because they feel good about themselves?

In India, we have this further worsened by the media portraying the ‘vamps’ as the better dressed or sluttily dressed women while the ‘purer’ ones always are draped in a boring, faded sari. Does purity mean dressing in a sackcloth?

Cynic that I am, I believe that the eve teasing and such will never stop till men believe that women aren’t inferior or better… we are all the same, with equal rights.

And here is yet another take (something I do sort of agree on as well) in The Guardian.

***

Moving on to yet another issue regarding discrimination and gender… it is June, which means reopening of schools and colleges. It also means that there are plenty of kids starting college for the first time.

When I began college, one of the things that really excited me was that we were finally out of bounds of a uniform. But now, there are dress codes that threaten to get worse every year. And apparently, now the excuse being given is that without a dress code, the poorer students will feel worse. Do the lawmakers forget that it is isn’t the price of the clothes that matter, it is how one wears them?

College is supposed to encourage creativity and individual expression. Instead, we want out younger generation – once more – to adhere to the beaten path, to show no form of expression and identity.

Sure, the people who are rebels will find a way out of this was well. But why do we force the people to rebel? Why not let the students get a taste of what we face in real life? That is a job, there is no one to impose a rule on everyone to make them uniform. If you need to be noticed, you need to be good. Or you run the risk of getting mocked, or you’ll be stuck in the same cubicle of the rest of your life.

Am I making a big deal about something as simple as dress code?

The imposing of the dress codes for every single day in college seems to me like an attempt to shepherd us into the same grasslands. And excuses like ‘we do not want people to get into the western dress culture’ is particularly lame… We need to learn to dress best in whatever we are wearing and a culture grows only through evolution.

Globalization is here to stay… and each culture absorbs something from the other.

We eat burgers, the others are finding out that the Indian cuisine is more than chicken tikka masala. But forcing someone to adhere to a particular dress code or a food code to ‘protect’ your culture is exactly what the Taliban did. Our culture will survive… if it had not been strong enough, it wouldn’t have lasted 6,000 years.

And that culture we are so proud of, evolved at every century, with additions and subtractions. How do we forget that and say that ‘we need to protect cultures so let’s hit the trenches’?!

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