by Sanjay Kataria
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?