Sunday, July 7, 2013

My Shorts Are Your Scandal?

Recently, my college authorities had taken our batch on a north India tour which was prescribed as a part of our curriculum. The declaration form signed by our respective parents agreed that their wards would dress decently and in accordance with the dress code. Whenever a dress code is emphasized in any place, it is predominantly of esteem importance and pressed in the case of women. While we did have the 'liberty' to wear tee-shirts or shirts deemed decent and not provoking, (many colleges in the state are extremely close-minded as far as the topic is concerned. Salwars are what God has deemed fit for the average modesty clinging woman in the country) it was noted that if any of us girls had worn shorts or any such clothes during the official part of the tour, we would have definitely been asked to charge alongside derogatory warnings whereas it didn't really matter if the boys wore them. It is not the fact that we weren't encouraged to wear the clothes  of our choice during this particular tour but the premise that decides what we have to wear at any point in time by various authorities like schools, colleges, the moral police etc., that bums me out.
   I expressed the unfairness of it to a friend of mine wondering out aloud why girls couldn't wear comfortable shorts or three-fourth pants on the train while the guys could roam around the way wanted to. He only said  that no one would stare at men wearing shorts but they most definitely would stare if a girl does the same, especially on a mode of transport as public as an interstate train.

Source: Google images 
  So, why does a little leg hurt men, their hormones and the so-called morale people? (inclusive of all genders) Honestly, I still can't think of my legs being anything more than a part of the anatomy thus into evolution. I wonder why I get cold stares from people I don't know and anxious ones with perspiration from ones I do know.

   I have been a gymnast for several years and used to wear the gymnastics costume that is mandatory at various competitions, both state and national levels. Initially, I used to feel a little odd about wearing a dress as short as that, exposing the thighs and legs completely but got used to with time. I think this is predominantly possible because no one looked at any of us girls there, dressed that way with leering looks or creepy stares. It was not a problem when our shorts reached just inches past our groin during the practice sessions. As an athlete, I have shorts and sleeveless jerseys which are the best in terms of comfort on track. There have been a lot of boys around there, but it was not a problem for any of them. Why is it only okay when it comes to a sport? Is it the rules that align mindsets? Is it the fact that sports-people are a special creation when it comes to hormones and thought?

Source: Google images
  I come to think of it as the fact that they get used to it. It is not thrust upon them that it is a sin to wear clothes so short in case of their women peers. It is told that it is okay. They eventually see women around with their legs exposed who don't think of it to be weird and neither do the people who are exposed to it, eventually. It is the effect of time and the mindset that evolves, that knows that it is comfortable for women to run in shorts and not full length tracksuits.

  On a parallel track, while I do think we are in that transition phase where legs are being revealed;(probably along with hands and cleavage) where it is not a sight uncommon to see a girl wearing clothes of her choice. But it is also the phase where the woman wearing such clothes is being labelled as a slut, whore, immoral and a big-time bitch. During a recent discussion with a few fellow bloggers on an online forum, I was plainly appalled and disgusted by the way some of them chose to see women. I wouldn't even say it was their perspective of women as much as objectifying them.

   I was glad to see the many open-minded men and women on that forum as well but two front-running speakers in opposition to most of our views said that man is still an animal and shouldn't be provoked. That women's dressing is one of the chief reasons for rape. Well, I believe that even if 'revealing' clothes are the ONLY reason for rapes, it isn't justified. Unless the other reasons fall to ashes and this is the only reason that's being pointed out, it isn't even on the table for a debate or arguments because obviously the flaws lie elsewhere.
I am irritated to see the hypocrisy in men I know.. in my friends, brothers and other relatives. While it okay for you to indulge in a drink in a pub, it is immoral if a woman does the same? Of course I have to admit at this juncture that many men are what their mothers made them to be and there is a blame that lies in the upbringing of the child, from the side of the parents as well.

  But we all grow up don't we? We use our rational mind to dissect right from wrong without bias in most issues but this one. Beyond a point, don't you think one has to evolve beyond it all? Beyond whatever ill-ideas are planted in one's upbringing, society and peers' opinions? If that hasn't happened, it means the respective person is shutting down a part of his mind to the obvious truth in front of them and clinging on to the hopeless strings of male chauvinism and ego. And if then, they debate or discuss with that closed-mind on such matters, it only seems like a joke to me.

   Legs are legs, whether they are that of men or women, breasts or chests, cleavage or no makes no difference if you are straight in your head to know that what anyone wears is his/her subjective choice and not be moral-policed. Don't let's make even the basic, comfort of woman scanned under the lights of your male-chauvinistic twisted ideas because frankly, no one gives a damn. Let me walk in peace.

P.S: This post does not in any way promote you running nude on the roads or asking someone to do the same. If you do so on the accounts of a very stupid comeback, I'm not bailing you out because I think the message I tried to convey here is pretty clear.And oh, in case you do get caught, smile for the mugshots. You only get one chance.  


  1. I have just one question why a woman at all need to wear revealing dress. have you ever seen a man wearing a pant showing his private part. This is stupidity, women will always be women because nature have made them like that. Being a woman, a woman can walk nude publicly on the street and if a man stares(which is natural by the way, if he doesnot he may have some sexual problem)it becomes a scandal, it is ridiculous.

    1. Hello Mr.Neeraj,
      I have just one question for you. Why do men walk around bare-chested on the road exposing their nipples to everyone? Why do they wear shorts and other clothes that reveal their legs? Boy, I think that is scandalous. Don't you agree?
      What you call 'nature' is the right opposite of what you understand nature to be. Women from since the dawn of time used to be nude and then topless and so on. I don't think it was a big problem for the men of their time. Indian women never used to wear blouses. So, are those women sinners in your opinion?

      Nature made man and woman different only by means of anatomical structure. Why men assume the right to tell us what to do and what to wear is beyond me. Also, please do read the post script carefully. My idea is not that I want to run nude on the road but the premise that I am the sole owner of myself and that no one else has the right to tell me what to do.Should I choose to wear the scantiest of clothes, no one still has the right to try to molest/rape me.

      P.S: Men who don't stare at women running nude on the road are either broad-minded or sexually-differently-oriented. They do NOT have any sort of sexual problem as you may imagine.


    2. PS2 is better than PS!

    3. Mr. Kumar... The issue is not Men Vs Women. The issue is breach of personal liberty. I decide what I want to wear not my mother, friend, husband, brother or even the 'vague others' including you.
      "Why woman needs to wear revealing clothes"? Their wish. Women are adults who know what is best for them.
      But that doesnt give anyone the right to grope or assault- which is a crime.

      And please, we all know that men rape because they are sick-minded criminals, not because women provoke. If that was the case, every man would have been rapist.
      And these crimes exist because of such mentality. Women are blamed for no fault of theirs- its ridiculous and pathetic.

  2. Hi Hemalatha, well to start off i am a guy, i dont have a blog account so posting as Anonymous. Although your post is the sad situation and you as a woman or a girl have every right to be enraged with the social stigma you face in today's society, i feel the issue at hand is a little more complicated than the "right to equality" trivialization, which of course, is a right every human should have.

    It is not so much of an issue as 'what' you want to wear, but more of a 'where' you wear it. If you were to wear only a bikini on one of the many beaches of Goa filled with other people similarly clad, there would be no big cry from society. But instead if you choose to wear "inappropriate" clothing in the wrong place, it is just inviting trouble. I use the word inappropriate specifically because like i mentioned, clothing worn somewhere which is accepted one place, may not be in another place.

    I do not want to get into the argument of why a girl would want to wear revealing clothing, to be honest, it is their choice and if they want to show off their body to get attention or for comfort or any other reason that is up to them. I do would like to point out that some thought needs to be taken to at least realize that we live in a voyeuristic society today, in a country like India, where men are sexual hounds, and anything out of the ordinary on the streets in public is noticed and looked at or commented upon and in some cases taken even further. So basically a girl or woman needs to know that what she is wearing is appropriate for where she is going to be. If it is for a party, and has to travel through public transport, which may be an uneasy situation , then find a way to cover up at least in some way whether it be a jacket or a shrug, up till the party or destination after which it can be removed.

    In the end it is about being able to make sense of the situation. To be able to know what to do when. Moral policing by Institutions comes across as crass and totally not required. The students are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, and in the case of shorts, i dont think there has to be any defined guidelines. a girl wearing shorts too small revealing too much amongst the wrong crowd immediately will feel uneasy and know she is wearing the wrong attire.

    If the sole purpose of wearing clothes to show as much skin as possible, then that is sad and a reflection upon the objectification of women sexually worldwide today, something which seems to have been accepted by women themselves and which they get some perverse and immense pleasure from. Either way, we live in a free country, and are free to do what we want as long as its within the laws.By this i do not mean self written primeval laws by any private educational institution, but the law of this nation.

    Being cautious is for your own good. The note about inappropriate clothing encouraging rape might not be the total truth because it is certainly not the case always, but there are also incidents which have occurred that show that the clothing worn by the victim incited or led to the attack or the attackers motives. Its as simple as knowing that although we have fundamental rights and to do what we want, certainly with our clothes and bodies, there are elements within society out of our control that might react in a way to our actions, leading indirectly or directly to affect us. Its like knowing that there are certain neighbourhoods in the United States where no white man would dare walk, because they know they would get beaten up, or to walk with a gun through a ghetto, is a short cut to getting killed. You might own the gun, its yours to carry, but you just dont carry it with you to the wrong place else you risk facing certain consequences. The same rule applies with respect to clothing and the places they should be worn in.

    I hope my post has been understood to some extent and my ideas have not been misunderstood in any respect. Looking forward to what other people or the author has to say to this.

    1. Hello Anonymous,
      Great to meet you here. I appreciate the way your message has been conveyed and I get it.
      Women know out of instinct when they are in a bad situation/crowd.It's something Indian women have a higher sensitivity for, given the constant danger that surrounds them.

      I speak by large for a lot of women. It is not in our interests to wear shorts to reveal as much skin as possible but predominantly out of comfort. You don't really see many women dressed like that in temples, religious gatherings or other such social events do you? I agree with you completely that it is in our best interests that we be cautious.But let me tell you something? We are sick of being cautious. At least I am, despite still being that way. I'm sure every girl in this country is completely cautious and wary of the situation that exists now.

      Yes, we live in a place that has too many sexual hounds. But to blame or even saying she would be responsible for her own case is plainly unfair. Do you agree that 'your freedom ends where my nose begins?'

      The problem is that there are not many 'appropriate' places for comfortable clothing, by which I mean ordinary tees and a pair of shorts reaching just above the knees. It's a relative world and ours is supposed to be a free country. The main thing that I wish to be understood is that there needs to be a change in this outlook. It's not going to happen in a day. I just wish people will get used to it and wave it off as no matter which is the way it's ideally supposed to be. My idea was again not to imply that we want to wear bikinis on buses. This whole thing has to stop. If only you tell your fellow-mates who pass lewd comments about some passing woman will any message get through. That's what I am trying to say here. To learn to let her be instead of asking her to conform to the rules made by a patriarchal society thousands of years back. Any change has to start with the self.

      While I understand your good explanatory stance, you seem to be subtly asking women to check the clothes they wear because it's not accepted by all. I'm sure you don't mean to think so but it is a very subtle way of keeping patriarchy afloat, without your own knowledge. Please don't mistake me on this front, for I completely understand your rationalized statements and agree with them but it is again the basic line of the current scenario.

      There are various shackles endowed upon women, as you might know. I want to voice out and let you know that when it is hot as hell in this tropical climate, it is quite irritating to be clad in salwars and dupattas all the time. Do you agree with the situation of women in Saudi, on the front of clothing atleast? Well, what's happening here is a diluted version of the same. If you think what is happening in Saudi Arabia is wrong, what is happening here is wrong as well. As much as Saudi Arabia is condemned, it is atleast not a land of hypocrites as far as the issues of women are concerned.

      It doesn't really help with agreeing that it is wrong but to fight it in our own means and ways, as little as it may be that will help the ball rolling. It's not even about equality between the genders. It's about individualism.
      I want to retain who I am, unaffected by the gender I fall into, even with respect to something as 'trivial' as clothing.

      I wonder if I have gotten my point across. Please do let me know what you think. Glad to have known you on this forum. Please stay connected.

  3. This will never end. My sympathies are with you. The more we claim to advance the more we go back. Part of the problem is that fringe elements like the moral police are allowed to get away lightly by the general public.

    1. Exactly Clement. I hope we muster up our voice and ask for what is duly every person's right in this country.

  4. Hem: I wud like to introduce myself as Neither a misogyny nor Misandrist. just hater of wrongs.
    I jus had time to read few stanzas .... But i had understood something wats there...
    -- Both genders live in this world.. We were animals just lik lions to cats years and centuries back. And had no social sensitization.. Even before 300 centuries our women did not wear blouse and were top less. There were numerous men and women who fought to wear a top for women.

    But wen the men and women had started learning more and more, We donot know what for we get punishments, we do not knw what for we wear dress and all such.. The curse was the intervention of individualism for everybody's convenience.. People do not know how do they hurt others... But as usual they raise complaints once they are hurt...

    "We have rights to do anything without disturbing others or others intention. Being nude within four walls or with husband is unquestionable, thats pretty good".
    Y do women think like men, in dressing without knowing whats equality. (He don wear tops then y should i??) Thats the stupidity. He hides his sexual part in such a way he chooses and women also should do it and thats equal and maturity of age. Following American's talk or culture had always been irritating.
    I just think women are taught to be against man at all circumstances and don comply with any social responsibility by their moms.. May be u wud take individualism, it is much dangerous one. Just see the western nations it had been such an awkward. The individualism had lead men to men and women to women for marriage.Yuckk. And also I think such things had flourished after women fought against men in 1960s to have liberation which broke the family set up and encouraged individualism. And researchers had said that the individualism has been the evil behind break of family setup, divorce and poor children.

    So we should not be against each other under individualism. Should know the natural attraction and comply for the social health.

    1. Dear Mr.Dass,
      The traditional and cultural values you seem to imply of India inherently in our system, still exists. Otherwise you'd see a totally different scenario here. I am an Indian by birth and am completely within the folds of Her cultural realm. But, one doesn't have to give up one's pride and individualism for the sake of a mindless society.

      Most of them seem to misunderstand this post. I don't want to run around nude on the streets. But the very premise that someone else other than me gets to decide what I wear (something as simple as a pair of shorts and t-shirt, I emphasize)is irritating.

      Are you meaning to say that individualism is killing this society? Well, to begin with, it's a good step forward because the patriarchal 'society' that existed so long was only because of women shutting up even when they were mistreated and given no rights. So, when she gets up now and demands for the same, it seems like a meteor is hitting the Indian soil.

      It is stupid that you should objectify women in the first place. Breasts were not a 'private part' earlier, why should it be now? It is because of the improvised restrictions and the 'progression' of the society. I don't want nude people walking on the street. I just want people to be able to wear clothes that are deemed comfortable by themselves.

      To think that nudity is only accepted in front of one's own husband puts me off as many people are now involved in pre-marital sex. I don't think I am to judge for anyone's personal agenda. Mothers of today do not encourage daughters against men. That's a very false and idiotic claim if I may put it so. Women are being empowered while there is always a section of mothers who are still very conservative, only slowly opening to the current society via their children. I don't see anything wrong.

      Individualism is the most important thing in life. While I understand that you agree with the same reigning in men but women puts you under the questionable light of chauvinism, Sir. A marriage is not a deal where one swallows their own self-esteem for the sake of the other. May I suggest you read Ms.Ayn Rands' work? (though it may have its own loopholes) I find your logic highly disagreeable.

      Also, gay and lesbians are not criminals who need ostracizing or moral policing. It is their wish to choose their partners of whichever gender they love. I condemn your thoughts highly which says that they are a disgrace upon this society, which they are NOT.

      Glad to connect with you here. I hope you understand the message thus implied through this post.

  5. Usually before reading any article\blog post I check the comments first ( If there is one, mostly in blogpost there wont be any comments ). I did the same in ur post too, the first comment by Neeraj Kumar was such a loony with no sense of remorse against one' feeling.

    Did you ppl go to North ? Looks like Neeraj is from north !

    1. Hello Mr.Ravi,
      I am in opposition to the views expressed by Mr.Neeraj too. He may be from the north but I don't think this is a problem contained only within the northern states of India though it may be where the problem persists more, sometimes in a downright hypocritical way. I'm glad that more people are opening their minds and not being a moral judge though we still have a long walk left.
      Great to know your views here. Please do stay connected.

    2. Yes, moral policing is not confined just to northern states. It is everywhere in India, in fact around the world where freedom of expression \ right to choose out of freewill is barged. ( Others- Plz don't say assaulting someone is also a freewill :-) ).

      I think he got more aggravated cause you mentioned about the trip to North !

    3. Oh, I didn't think of it in that angle at all. Thanks for bringing that possibility to my notice. I just meant to state that as an example for the happenings in the country as a whole.
      I hope this moral policing stops. We, the general public needs to stand against it.
      Thanks for letting me know, Ravi. Learning perspectives again and again.

  6. First of all, if there is going to be any code of dresses it should be applicable for both the sexes and not for one gender alone. If some body stares then they should be condemned and its not the other way around. As I read in Bhavia's blog few days ago, whoever be in fault in such situations the girls are getting punished. Even worse thing is the first one to judge them is the women in the family as well as neighbourhood. I am not talking about metros, where the situation is slowly changing but in rural areas there is so much left to desire.

    And about the comments, I dont know what to say. Whenever such things come up, the stronger sex comes with stronger force to establish they are right and such and such things should not be done by girls. Pathetic. I know people who wear shortest of shorts and roam bare chested in trains thinking that they are giving the women a chance to ogle at them as if they are... Thinking about the time when women who were ruling did not care about hide their breast, and times like this, infact we are going back to dark ages.. in breakneck speed

    1. Hello Annasarp,
      True. I seem to be getting opinions from many people at the rate of detailed answers like during examinations. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and that they are not to be judged, but it's difficult to see the mindsets that seem to carry on right now.
      I'm sure rural India is in a far worse state as compared to its urban counterparts. Victimization of women needs to stop.

      In the centuries which we have traveled through to reach this 'educated' level, we are only adding several layers to the existing mindset of most people. It's just more polished and given gift-wrapped.
      I completely agree with you. We do seem to be returning to the real dark!
      Thanks for dropping by. Please do stay connected.

    2. I have kept that name for my blog but sounds weird when people address me like that. You should actually read it in reverse. :-)

      Bragadeesh Prasanna

    3. Hi Brags,
      I didn't completely realize I was talking to you here. It was only later that I opened your blog, after replying here. It's great to see you here.
      Welcome aboard! :)

  7. Thoughtful article.. But it is a bit tough on the eyes to read your blog.. Maybe you should think about changing the layout, backgrounds etc. and making it more read-friendly

    1. Hello Mathi,
      Long time! I think I do have to change the layout. Would a plain grey backdrop be better? Do let me know for I have had some other friends saying the same.
      Thank you and cheers to seeing you here after long! :)

    2. Yes. I would suggest a light background and a dark front colour rather than the inverse.. It is easier to read long articles in that setup.. Cheers

    3. Sure Mathi! I shall work on it. Thanks for giving me your feedback! :)

  8. It is sickening to see such chauvinism in this day and age. Nothing infuriates me more than the pigs who appoint themselves as the upholders of social norms, and go about forcing their views on women. India will never be a developed country as long as people continue to have this mentality. I can never be proud of my country as long as this goes on. If men can't keep their pants on, then they are scarcely men. Blaming a violated woman and saying that she brought it upon herself is absolutely ridiculous! Reading some of the comments here makes my blood boil.

    1. Dear Raisin,
      I completely understand. I'm glad we are on the same page. It is indeed sad that the victims are further victimized especially in the case of women. Of the many posts here, issues of this sort seems to infuriate a lot of people, predominantly men.
      Well, that way I am glad I can drive home the point that a lot of people are changing and that a chauvinistic attitude is not appreciated by a growing mass.
      Great to see you here!

  9. Hi Hema..I empathise with you whole-heartedly on this, as I am sure, a majority of Indian girls do. A girl can want or not want to wear revealing clothes, it's her personal choice really, but the pressing factor here is she should have the freedom to do so, if she feels like without half a million judgemental eyes gaping at her like she is some terrorist on loose. I think you have underplayed the role of a few members of our own gender in promoting this hypocrisy. Getting a bit personal, having stayed in Chennai for a number of years, it always pinched me more when i saw some strange, self proclaimed moralist aunty frowning at me disapprovingly , than if some guy on the stared at me. That too, for something innocuous as a capri pant..showing just 5-6 inches of my shin. All the while these same aunties would be parading around with half their tummy popping out of their sari.. THAT is not revealing I guess, but my shin sure is..
    Coming to the men, Hema, I am afraid, I do not know if that will ever change in India.. I guess when something is a scarcity, it becomes all the more an object of fascination.. Statistics show that very few women in India who would be themselves willing to wear something revealing.. So that augurs badly for those girls, who wouldn't mind flaunting their body, once in a while. Men take it as a signal that maybe this girl is open minded and wouldn't mind indulging in a little promiscuity with them. Hence, the mating calls (read whistles, creepy stares etc). Raw animal behavior.
    The situation is a little ameliorated in posh areas of India, like malls and theatres where you would find many more girls dressed liberally.. A direct extension of the west, where clothing of girls is never a matter of talk. It has been mentioned before, the situation matters a lot. The problem in India is the juxtaposition of these parallel universes , the one of free,independent women and that majority one where she is still suppressed, told what to do, where to go and what to wear.
    A lot has been explained and questioned in the discussion you have brought up. But I am yet to find a credible answer to this perplexing dilemma that girls like us face. How long do we have to wait till we have society's approval for our freedom? Cuz let's face the truth..our society determines who we are to a great extent and we can't just be belligerent and ignore society completely. I do not want to create a ruckus about my freedom in clothing, nor do I want to be stared at by aunties and creepos anymore. What would you say, would be an easy way out? Cuz changing the status quo, as India stands today, would be a Herculean task, indeed. Maybe we should have some clothing revolution..but I doubt whether if even that would actually work.. Rememeber the Slutwalk protests of 2011..they give a similar picture to what I am suggesting..It will never work. And waiting for the mentality of majority of our Indian brothers and sisters to change, I doubt there would be development in that scene even after our time on earth passes on.

    I guess the best way ahead is to wear what you feel comfortable in, and you would certainly feel comfortable in clothes which suit a particular situation.. n if anyone has a problem with even that (like 3-4ths or sleeveless) then learn to not care. I once stared back so hard at a woman who was glaring at me, that she was forced to look away :) I guess when the number of girls following this approach increase, the situation will improve , gradually at least. And to end on an optimistic note, I guess the number of girls in at least jeans on Indian roads is improving :) Let's hope for the best, Hema :)Cheers :)

    1. Pranati!
      I agree. In most of my posts underlined with such subjects, I mention people and not just men because chauvinists are not just men but a huge number of women too. I still don't understand why they are on the other side of the road. If I have underplayed the role of those 'aunties', I am sorry. They are equally responsible.

      This scenario isn't going to change straightaway. It is still taking its baby-steps here and will be a long time before it even grows though the change that we seem to see is pretty good. We can't wait for the society's approval for it is never going to happen anytime soon, in my opinion. Even my extended family would not comfortable with the clothes that I wear but I still wear what I want because I am comfortable in them. When revoked, I have spoken back and now, they don't tell me anything at all assuming I have an attitude. If an extended family behaves this way, it falls on the shoulders of the parents who have to bear with the blame of bad-upbringing.

      I must say this brings a lot of judgement on my character but I have learnt to shrug it off. Conventional people on the lines of chauvinistic character are never going to change and are going to be be scandalized if ankles are visible. Slutwalks and the like haven't changed much in the country, but they are some of the baby-steps taken though I don't know how far it had actually helped.

      I agree with you that it is completely in our hands. We need to wear the clothes that we like and wear a devil-may-care attitude on our sleeves. Let's continue to scandalize them until they can adjust to their own issues. I guess, that is what I have been doing and most other girls that we know including you have been following.
      This post is mainly for the message to spread. Hopefully, it should.


      P.S: I didn't know you had a blog. Really great and surprised to see you here. Great going. Thanks for letting me know your views on this front. :)

  10. A thought provoking article indeed!

    There are many thoughts rushing up my mind but I will just choose to congratulate you for writing on this topic and replying to each and every comment in a headstrong manner. I really appreciate your efforts to raise your voice for what you feel is correct.

    Looking forward for more such thrilling articles and debates.


    1. Hi White,
      I was frankly surprised to the see the response I got for this particular post. It shows how the predominant Indian mindset and may I say I'm glad there are so many of them who are different and thinking along my lines.
      Thanks a lot for the support and encouragement. It drives me forward!


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