I’m Conservative

by Sanjay Kataria

I'm Conservative

The title above might baffle the ones who know me personally and might create an impression of me being vernacular who don’t know me (and, might not even want to know me). 
However, the purpose of this title isn’t to attract you to read the piece below but to present a healthy argument that is a part of a heated debate: should women in India (or elsewhere, especially South Asia) wear “revealing” clothes?

Not long ago, I was sitting in the balcony of my house, which oversees a prominent road to Central Market, one of many markets in the city to purchase almost anything for one’s house. Watching the colourful crowd jostling their way on a busy street, my eyes rolled seeing a voluptuous lady in a bright yellow diaphanous top and a white mini-skirt. She dazzled in that outfit. I then looked to my left, and then behind just to check if any of my family members were watching me. I was slightly paranoid because one of my cousins had caught me at the same place “checking out” a girl while later revealing that he had seen her first. There was no one seeing me so my eyes rightfully planted on to that girl again. Now, there were more than three dozen men in my sight who were gazing her. It wasn’t an evil, she was beautiful and everyone who was seeing her knew that. Just a few seconds later, as she was getting out of sight, what happened in front of my eyes, made my view of writing this article. Some other equally beautiful girls who were smartly dressed were seeing her and chuckled and giggled. But, they themselves were not setting the eyeballs rolling of the crowd. It is now a cinch to guess what I was experiencing.

It is not just about how beautiful or how vulnerable women are. It is about how they behave in the entire social milieu. A woman wearing the kinds of clothes described above at a Goa beach or a big-shot night party won’t attract that much attention than wearing the same kinds of clothes in daylight at the marketplace. It is this attention that factors in making them “vulnerable”. Here I don’t anyhow deny the fact that those who don’t wear such kinds of clothes aren’t attacked; but those who do it have a dearer chance. All I am emphasising is the fact that women should know what to wear at what time. Recently, I had been to Singapore. There, I observed that women knew and were sensible about the differences between day and night clothing; weekday and weekend clothing; wearing according to the areas in the city; and so on. Though being one of the most women-friendly nations, women there know how to dress up.
If you ask me, I am apparently not at all in favour of women wearing clothes that set the eye-balls rolling in marketplaces and other such areas. The purpose of these “slut walks” or “besharmi morchas” isn’t what I would like to see around. The fact that women should wear anything they like and still not be a victim of abuses is in fact quite a damp squib. Even a man walking in a market place wearing a short and vest would attract as much attention as described above. But not when he is in a pool-side party. Now, if you think that I shouldn’t think it that way, and that women should wear anything anywhere then I would readily accept the fact that I am conservative. Are you?

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3 comments

  1. I didn’t find you conservative, rather practical! I share the same view. Wearing revealing clothes(without quote unquote) does make one look attractive. I think i can safely call it a ‘fact’. But yes, as u said, it doesn’t mean they issue a license for eve-teasing. But they do get eve-teased..the reason for this is, however, societal. I say this because the jarawas are all naked.. irrespective of their gender. I think it is all about controlling our senses, our urges, rather. The society is about that…but in our society, men exercise a fair amount of liberty in this. they can not only ogle at them but also dare to eve-tease or rape them and it vil all get justified by the society.
    However, i disagree that a guy who wears a vest will also attract attention. women will be just disgusted by them…not attracted or maybe, this is what i think!

    regarding the comment on “besharmi morcha”, well though there is no consensus among the organisers themselves(they are damn confused and end up contradicting themselves), i do feel that they merely attack the mentality. You would be surprised but someone from the organising committee said that they will not allow women who dress “indencently” in the morcha!

  2. Personally, I think women (or for that matter, men) should be able to wear whatever they want where ever. For me, it is a simple matter of taste. But in doing so, if a person is sensible and have common sense, they can exercise some restraint. But even if they do not, the question is, is it reasonable that they should be molested? This is where the problem is. In most parts of South Asia I have been, men in general seem to be incredibly frustrated. Perhaps this has to do with how they are brought up, the pressures on controlling desires, convoluted notions of masculinity and so on. Japan, where I have been for more than six months on and off since last year offers a comparatively different picture. Women (more than men) are extremely fashion conscious, and many of them go about wearing things that would be called ‘revealing’ in the South Asian context. Nobody gets, raped, nobody is molested, individuals hardly make eye contact unless they know each other; women walk about in the dead of night even in a mega city like Tokyo without any problem. They take it for granted. I have seen some of them drunk, lying around alone in areas like Shibuya because they have missed the last train home. Usually, they remain safe through with a strong smell of alcohol as a perfume. So, this boils down to a matter of ‘culture’ and not some inherent thing in men. In this sense, New York is as unsafe as New Delhi or Colombo. So, rather than controlling what women should wear (which is the easy option), we should look at why men amongst us are so frustrated and seem to have acquired our unrestrained jungle heritage which many of assumed was traded off for culture thousands of years ago. May be in some parts of the world (including ours) that trade off was somehow incomplete.

    • Thank you sir for a valuable content. My views are bound to South Asia (paricularly India) as i am not a globe trotter. I agree with you point of frustration among men: possibly it’s hard to get through a girl in the conditions of skewed sex ratio, maybe. Whatever the reasons, they can form a good deal of research in Sociology. I only advanced a point that wearing those clothes factor in them being vulnerable. But cases of South Korea, singapore, japan defy this, for reasons inherent in him ( maybe because of mature population).

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