How far can we push the wear what you want argument?

body shaming Fat Shaming, Samuel Zeller, Unsplash

“It doesn’t matter what you wear. What does matter is that you should be able to walk past a hundred men with your head held high, daring them to misbehave with you.”

I have grown up with my parents saying this to me morning and evening. The result? I ended up wearing the clumsiest of clothes that would invite no attention from anyone (let alone men). What did invite attention was what I said and what I did. And I was happy in my haven.

Current debate over girls could be wearing anything, anywhere has taken a life of its own.

Things changed when I moved away from home for higher studies, to Mumbai, the city of dreams.

I saw what my parents told me in a new light. I wore what was latest in fashion and revelled in the new and more confident me that peeped from across the mirror. I liked it when people around me (girls and boys) admired me. I enjoyed the glint of appreciation in every glance that came my way. Yet I was sure that I was giving no one a reason to feel awkward and object to what I was wearing.

Also Read: Delhi woman tells girls to not wear short dresses

Oh, in fact the same set of people and some strangers now among them, saw me in western formal suits during college events, in Indian traditional wear during family dos and festivals, in business casuals on a normal working day and in absolutely ravishing (and sometimes a little revealing) dresses when the mood was light and apt for personal celebration. And trust me, apart from having a few heads turned and a handful of leeches who would drool on anyone in their line of sight, I never felt uncomfortable about what I was wearing.

And that I thought was the case with all women who were wearing clothes as per their wish and what’s appropriate as per the WHERE of your presence. (phew…too many Ws there)

But the current debate over girls could be wearing anything, anywhere has taken a life of its own.  The argument that wearing short dresses isn’t an attention seeking device and does not solicit sexual harassment is unquestionable.

But what concerns me is, that in the wake of personal freedom are we drifting to an era where terms such as code of conduct, discipline and decorum have no meaning at all? In a video that went viral recently, I saw a mother stating very aggressively that my daughters could be roaming on the streets in a two piece swimming costume but nobody had the right to misbehave with them.

While there is no doubt to the fact implied in the latter part of the statement, what I couldn’t help myself from wondering was, why would this mother let her daughters roam around on the streets in swimwear. Wasn’t a swimming costume, meant for the pool?

As a woman I am inclined to take a step back, and analyse the situation a little more rationally. What if it were the other way round? Imagine a guy walking into the restaurant (and not the one by the pool) with only his briefs on, or let’s say a set of Bermuda pants willing themselves to fall below his bum, or his fly open. Would you still say, “He could be wearing whatever he wants to!”  or that, “He wearing that revealing piece in the name of a cloth, isn’t disturbing at all !”

I don’t know. I can’t fathom my reaction, until I see a male specimen who fits the (above) bill in public place myself. But something gives me an inkling that he will be trolled and judged for being an obnoxious guy who has no sense of decency in a public place. And I also wonder how far are we from the time where boys will rebel and want to fit the description above and not be judged for their choices.

Have we really matured enough towards being gender unbiased? Or is it possible that our bias is leading us towards an abyss where we might not be able to discipline ourselves or our kids to dress up to the occasion.

Views are the author’s own and not SheThePeople’s