In a recent incident, the newly elected Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Tirath Singh Rawat criticised women wearing ripped jeans, wondering “what example they set up before their children and the society.”
The CM made the remarks while speaking at a workshop organised by the Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Dehradun on Tuesday, 16 March 2021.
Giving details about an incident on-board a flight, CM Rawat said he was shocked to see a woman, with two children, wearing ripped jeans. Questioning how she could run an NGO, he wondered “what kind of a message” would such a woman impart to her children and the society.
“If this kind of woman goes out in the society to meet people and solve their problems, what kind of message are we giving out to society, to our kids? Kainchi se sanskaar (culture by scissors) – showing bare knees, wearing ripped denim and looking like rich kids – these are the values being given now. Where is this coming from, if not at home?” said the CM.
For centuries, men have acted gatekeepers of what they call ‘family values’- a term loosely used to remind women of their dismal and lowly position in the family hierarchy. These family values, grounded in patriarchy, have been a convenient method to monitor and regulate not just women’s sexuality, but also where they go, who they speak to, what they eat, what they wear. While cishet men get a free pass for the most inexcusable behaviour, every little action of a woman is somehow related to their family’s honour.
Men feel free to work, eat, sleep and fuck as they please, but assertion and desire have no place in a woman’s life. Right from your diet, clothing, sexuality, self-expression, to your education, everything is subject to family values and public opinion.
“Women should not drink and smoke because it affects their fertility and reproductive health. And what will the children learn?”– Husband, middle-aged, drinks and smokes.
This extremely sexist and unsolicited statement quickly received online backlash with women flooding social media with pictures that show them in distressed denim and using the hashtag #ripmisogyny and #RippedJeansTwitter. Many celebrities and influencers have taken a stance on the issue, demanding a public apology and retraction of the comment as well.
— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) March 17, 2021
Ripped Jeans aur Kitab.
The country’s ‘sanskriti’ & ‘sanskaar’ are impacted by men who sit and judge women and their choices. Soch badlo Mukhyamantri Rawat ji, tabhi desh badlega. #RippedJeansTwitter pic.twitter.com/qYXcN88fY6
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) March 18, 2021
Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi wrote: “The country’s ‘sanskriti’ and ‘sanskaar’ are impacted by men who sit and judge women and their choices.”
Politicians making controversial remarks and preaching regressive ideologies is nothing new, but is now increasingly common, with a strong slut-shaming and trolling culture. In a report by NDTV, Uttarakhand minister Ganesh Joshi added to the controversy by claiming that women should focus on their families. “Women talk about all things they want to do in life, but the most important thing for them is to look after their family and children,” he was quoted as saying by the news channel.
Macho men flaunt their bare chest on social media, garnering thousands of likes and emulators but lo and behold if a woman does the same, it is against Instagram’s community guidelines.
Emotionally, physically, and financially abusive men– husbands, brothers, fathers for some reason are in no way accountable as a role model, and have to make a greater effort to have their characters assassinated. As for a woman, all you need to do is wear a pair of ripped jeans, forget to pack a day’s lunch, or simply have an opinion!
We all love a hot cup of hypocrisy- made just as obvious in this recent incident, where exposing bare knees are against Indian family values, but only when a woman does it.