Gender issue is a two-sided mirror and cannot be analyzed from a single perspective. Let us take a simple example of clothing. When religion demands women be covered in garbs from top to toe “Oh what a patriarchal society that is! She is caged in clothing, deprived of her fundamental right of freedom!” The same people scrunch their faces when they see a woman walking down the street in what they call ‘western wear’ “Who does she think she is to walk in here dressed like that! Can you believe her arrogance? That is one over smart woman!”
When I say ‘these people’ I mean you and me, men and women, the so called educated Indian who cries all morning for gender equality and comes back home to a wife whose life is at his mercy. We hide our bigot attitudes in the veil of tradition and hysterically struggle to admit that a sexist thrives in all of us regardless of gender.
Let’s go back to our street and the women walking by, a large majority of them painstakingly draped in meters of uncomfortable clothing. “Oh that’s a symbol of the Indian culture that we are proud of.” No offense but if an outsider was to rate a sari draped woman for modesty the numbers wouldn’t go very high. Our sari of course is a beautiful attire; elegant, majestic and sexy. It shows a significant amount of skin along notorious curves at the waist. There isn’t a legally certified method of draping a sari, there can be lots of cleavage showing like many of our celebrities have displayed or there can be none.
Tradition we say.
If we were to stick to tradition we would be wearing midriff showing antariyas and uttariyas that we learnt of in ancient Indian history. They weren’t immodest. All the essentials are covered. Why can we not stick to that “tradition”?
There is no doubt that sari as a piece of clothing makes it a absolutely impossible to run or fight back if a situation demands so. Women are to strut around delighting viewers, both the tradition hugging elders and vile senses of perverts. If one is to force himself on her the “traditionally clad” woman incapable of fight or flight, she is forced into submission. Well that too is a part of our “great Indian tradition” isn’t it so?
With all due respect to those who embrace sari on women as a necessary evil in this time of high crime rates of physical assaults on women. To all those who think sticking to traditional clothing is more important than comfort and practicality. Let’s see how comfortable wearing your off-white see through dhoti and riding a bike to office everyday can be. Let’s see our men uphold Indian culture and values. Many “realistic” people may find this article an atrocious to their convictions. In a nation where new born girls are buried alive every day, that wouldn’t surprise me at all!