Thursday, February 5, 2009

Long live noodle straps and tight jeans!

Ok, What's with the all the recent interest in what Indian women wear? Suddenly, everyone in India seems to have a say in what a 'decent' woman should wear. And they seem to be enforcing their views with despicable acts of violence.

First, there was the incident at a Mangalore pub where members of Ram Sena, a Hindu right-wing organization, assaulted women for dressing inappropriately. Then we heard about threats issued to women wearing noodle straps and tight jeans. And just today, I read about a man in Haryana who beat up his wife in public,undeterred by police, simply because she wore jeans to the market.

Reports of these incidents always seem to be accompanied by dozens of reader comments, several of them from men, also giving their two cents worth about what a woman should wear - Comments like 'good women should not wear jeans' and classics like 'Any girl who wears jeans is not decent because her mind is always on how to get the boys to look at her'! Sigh!

Its all pretty disturbing, but what struck me most about all this is how so many people seem to think that they get to decide what a woman wears. Shouldn't that be the woman's decision??? As a strong believer in a woman's right to choice, it always tics me off when people sit around and debate about what a woman should and shouldn't do, when really it isn't their call at all. Like whether women should work or stay at home, whether women should have abortions, at what age a girl should be 'married off'- women have always had men wanting to make their decisions for them. And now they want to decide whether she wears tight or loose pants! Come on! At least let that be her choice- not something dictated by a bunch of testosterone-crazed, saffron wearing MEN!

But, if this argument doesn't cut it and people still want to make rules about what is 'culturally permissible' to wear, well, then I have a few suggestions... for the sake of preserving our precious Indian culture, of course.

Rule No 1. Men with waists greater than 40 inches in width will not be permitted into water parks if wearing any of the following:
i. Tiny biker shorts
ii. Nothing but a towel
iii. And God forbid... speedos.

Rule No 2. Men with a excessive amounts of chest and/or back hair must refrain from ever taking their shirts off in public.

Rule No 3. (and this for our beloved South Indian makkal) Lungis are prohibited, at all times- No exceptions!