Is It Inappropriate To Mention ‘Bra’ And ‘Panty’ In A Play?

Posted by Campus Watch in Sexism And Patriarchy
January 31, 2017

Editor’s Note: Monami Basu, the coordinator for Kamala Nehru College’s theatre society, Lakshya, wrote in a Facebook post that the society was disqualified from a prestigious competition for using the words ‘bra’ and ‘panty’ in their performance on January 27. After there was an uproar on social media over the issue, one of the organisers of the competition reportedly said, “The society has not been disqualified, they will only lose marks because they’ve broken the rules about obscenity. Not just words like bra and panty, they’ve used several other cuss words, too.” She added that all the other colleges who used cuss words will also be penalised. However, Basu wrote another post on Facebook which said that the Delhi Govt’s Cabinet Minister, Kapil Mishra, has assured her that he will personally see to it that they don’t get disqualified or lose any marks. Lakshya, the theatre society of KNC, gave Campus Watch a statement, narrating exactly what happened and how they felt about the “guidelines of morality” that were issued to them. Read the statement here:

Theatre artists, actors and directors, all share a responsibility towards their audience which includes narration of stories with absolute realism. Lakshya, the theatre Society of Kamala Nehru College recently performed their stage play, “Shahira Ke Naam” at the Shri Ram Centre for the Mahavidhyalya Theatre Festival of Sahitya Kala Academy, (the cultural wing of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi). The play was received well by the audience, but not much by the organisers of the event.

As soon as the performance ended, an announcement was made denouncing the team and issuing guidelines of morality to be obeyed for the plays that were to follow in the festival. Also, one of the organisers approached the team and warned them of disqualification, for which no apparent justification was provided, but was assumed that the team knew well what they did wrong.

​​At the end of the day, when the team spoke to them it was revealed that the offence had been taken over the mention of the words ‘bra’ and ‘panty’, which they felt even ashamed of pronouncing.

The play had a scene of two actors narrating how they fought over undergarments in their girls’ hostel. The scene was taken as ‘obscene’ by the authorities, while usage of abusive language demeaning to women was okay with them. The incident makes everyone mock upon the current situation in the society. Singing songs about women empowerment or making jingles about providing sex education to children turns out to be just a melodious thing, which is audible to the ears but not visible to the eyes. Hypocrisy reached the acme when the team was informed that the usage of such words is not appropriate for a stage like this.

This reaction makes us question the progression we are aiming for. Theatre lovers and enthusiasts are expected to lead the world into a space where realism is not just respected but appreciated. Sadly, as it turns out to be, it was just the other way round when the team was expected to feel sorry for not filtering the content of the play.