As I was scrolling through YouTube, I was struck with the thought of the evolving rhetoric concerning femininity, the notion here being how a society changes its landscape from culture to culture, puts a certain weight scale to measure women and her abstract purity. A majority of communities across the world is scared of the beauty of femininity, or a woman trying to celebrate the beauty of her femininity. She is always under the preying eyes and constantly attempting to dodge the patriarchal tunnel vision being enforced upon her.
This notion of femininity comes up in a recent trend of roasting Instagram blogger named Sofia Ansari, who is popular for her reels. The aspect that she is getting roasted for is her choice of outfit when she dances in front of the lens to make Instagram reels. Her fault was simple and justified by some YouTuber Ashleelta. Sofia’s Instagram page is filled with lewd comments.
A YouTuber, who goes by the name Anupam Rajput, brutally roasted Sofia and later apologised, yet justifying how Sofia’s clothing was wrong. Anupam slut-shamed her and said that Sofia was “triggering” men by her choice of outfit. He said he women, but not of ‘her type’. There are multiple videos online of Sofia being roasted for spreading ashleelta (indecent) for the ‘skimpy outfits ‘ she is wearing.
The most important point that can be unearthed here is that women empowerment and respect for women are layered concepts.
A huge population of India feels entitled to put out different apparatuses to measure the character of women. A woman getting educated and becoming an IAS officer is a celebration for a lot of people, yet, when she wears a skirt or an outfit termed as ‘skimpy’, she instantly gets denounced, rejected and loses all her respect. Her clothes overpower all her talent and achievement she has displayed so far. Suddenly, she is labelled as a false figure of inspiration for women.
Again and again, even in the garb of women empowerment, women are pushed to fit the ‘good girl’ stereotype till society approves of her, constantly ensuring that she doesn’t “cross the line”. Once she does, she becomes a ‘bad girl’. The same moral police groups will repeatedly perpetuate how they respect women and believe in gender equality. But they are just a well-oiled part of the rape mentality machinery running smoothly in society.
A roast video justifying how it’s a woman’s fault for triggering men on Instagram by wearing certain outfits is made by this rape-mentality machinery. Just a part of exposed skin of a person is met with such strong resentment.
But the question here remains whether this moral police can ever provide a justified logic as to why one shouldn’t show their skin. Words such as diva and babydoll are used to bash women. Is the moral police scared of someone showing bare skin, making men angry or triggering them? How is it harming anyone?
Normalising something reduces an over-reaction against it.
Watching a documentary called Liberated on Netflix showed how women in EDM and rave parties are harassed and groped by entitled men. According to these men, every girl is ‘asking for it’ and is a slut. Even if a girl is looking for sex, it doesn’t mean anyone has the right to mistreat her and touch her without consent. Similarly, even a discussion of sexual fantasies by women is met with disgust and grudge.
Last year, OnlyFans, a content subscription service, was very much talked about for putting a price tag on someone’s skin. This isn’t the key to a sex positive environment. Many OnlyFans creators have revealed that they are paid to pose a certain way and take pictures for a certain fetish for its audience.
Humans beings are a product of the culture they grow up in. Hence, controlling women will not solve the problem. The root cause is here to stay. Normalising body parts, beauty of both male and female bodies or skin will create a healthier state. We must work towards building an understanding of the human body and see it for itself instead of labelling it as shameful.
Right from their childhood, kids are taught the word ‘shame’ when referring to body parts. Ordinary body parts like breasts are hypersexualised and women have to bear the brunt of it all. School girls are slut-shamed right from their childhood and are told to control and hide their bodies and behave like a decent ‘lady’. The difference between men and women keeps widening, but it’s all in our head. It’s all a perception that can be changed or moulded according to what we are taught.
We must change this outlook to a place where we can see the beauty of body. Change is difficult but necessary to contemplate the irrational thinking instilled within us by society. This change has to happen by teaching ourselves and our kids.
Start by simple things. It ain’t the fault of women. Her outfits and behaviour are not giving any wrong signal, it’s only society’s perception. She doesn’t have to justify herself all the time for her choice of clothes. Change is a small, conscious effort here. This can be a really small step, yet, speaks volumes.