Recently, Union Minister of Human Resource Development Satyapal Singh sparked off a controversy when he said, “No boy will be ready to marry a girl who comes to the mandap (wedding stage) in jeans.”

And to balance his statement, Singh also said, “Similarly, no saint will be revered if he gives up his traditional attire and wears jeans.”

UP CM Yogi Adityanath accompanied Singh on the stage at a ceremony in Gorakhpur’s Maharana Pratap Siksha Parishad (MPSP) where he made the statement. Singh targeted all women in his first statement while he spared a larger chunk of men in his bid to strike a balance. Seemingly, the minister was trying to make a point about “appropriate” clothes in front of a crowd of students.

Yes, attire is a big part of Indian culture, but dictating what women can wear and what they can’t reeks of patriarchy.

This is not the first time an Indian minister has spoken about what girls should wear and where. Case in point: Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi’s comment on skirts, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment on westernization, Asha Mirje’s comment on women’s clothes, etc. For long, the patriarchal society has told women how to dress to maintain either the Hindu culture or save them from heinous crimes.

As far as the Hindu culture goes, as an Indian woman I want to say please don’t put the burden of your culture righteousness on us. We can really do without it. Plus, who should decide what is wrong and what is right when it come to clothing, when the flag-bearers of self-righteousness are the ones who don’t condemn men’s appalling skin show?

I object to rampant manipulation of women which makes them believe it is disrespect to our culture if they dress in a certain way. Because frankly, neither our culture nor our mindset should be that small

And talking about the frowned upon pair of jeans, does Indian culture allow men to enter the mandap wearing jeans, Satyapal Singh ji? Jeans is a unisex clothing piece, so why does the responsibility to shun them lie only with women?

I’ll tell you why. Because it makes us women feel comfortable and it gives us the freedom to go out in public spaces not caring one bit about offending anyone. For me personally, a pair of jeans represents freedom and equality to be at par and and work shoulder-to-shoulder with men. May be that liberation scares men.

ALSO READ: Bhopal Jain temples ban women in jeans. Seriously, how dangerous can denim pants be?

I do understand that there is a place for everything. Or rather the society conditions women to believe that. However, there is a certain level of subjugation when people constantly tell women what to wear, how to behave, how to sit and who to talk to. Do men even realize how abhorrently claustrophobic that makes women feel?

I personally know far too many women who shut themselves up and leave their fate to “destiny” and the destiny is what society tells them to do. I object to rampant manipulation of women which makes them believe it is disrespect to our culture if they dress in a certain way. Because frankly, neither our culture nor our mindset should be that small.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

 

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