An esteemed university in Kolkata has been accused of shaming an ex-assistant professor over some ‘inappropriate’ photos of her on social media and subsequently threatening her into quitting her job. Despite our claims of evolving into a progressive society, judging women for their dress and demeanour doesn’t leave us. A woman’s PhDs, experience and skills are overlooked, in order to appease the sense of morality that a select few harbour.
A former assistant professor of a reputed university in Kolkata has alleged that she was shamed for some photos she had shared on her private Instagram profile before she even started working there. The woman also mentioned that the photos were shared on Instagram stories from her private profile, which meant there was no way someone could access the photos months later. However, a parent of one of the undergraduate students at the university raised a complaint against her when they came across their ward looking at the teacher’s pictures. The parent had claimed that the teacher’s photographs were “objectionable” and “bordered on nudity.”
The teacher, who holds two PhDs from foreign universities, was reportedly wearing a swimsuit in the pictures that led to the entire episode. Can you imagine a male teacher being sacked for posing in a swimsuit, that too in pictures that were shared from their private Instagram account? If the teacher had not voluntarily shared these images with the student, how is she even in the wrong here? And why is no one talking about the violation of her privacy, since she didn’t intend to make these pictures public?
Cyber space is unsafe for women, and yet, it is us who are being punished
Why must a woman be answerable to the her employers or even our society for what she shares with a private group of people on social media? It is easy to shame a woman and question her character for simply posing in a swimsuit, but why are those who violate women’s privacy never criticised? Must women always live in the fear of how and when their pictures will be misused? Or how they could end facing professional repercussions, because women in this country seem to have no right to privacy?
Whenever a woman puts content out in the public space, she has it in the back of her mind that there are high chances of it getting in the hands of the wrong people. And not only that, misuse of her data- such as videos and pictures actually puts her safety and reputation at risk. Instead of making the Internet safer for women, people will raise fingers at a woman for putting herself in a vulnerable situation in the first place. Why must the burden of blame lie with women in such cases? And not with those who misuse their images? Or rob them of their right to privacy?
Kolkata professor sacked: Vilifying women is convenient
Be it as school, college or any other workplace, what women can wear is always subjected to moral policing. Why is okay for men to look at women as sex objects, but not okay for women to wear what they want? If a man’s length of pants or shirt buttons don’t distract women around him then why is it problematic when genders are reversed in this situation?
Besides, such dress policing even intrudes personal spaces, as it did in this case. What women wear in the comfort of their homes, on vacations, or during night outs, no employer has the right to critic it. Sadly, we still live in a country where a woman is always shamed for the short length of her skirt but is seldom celebrated for the long list of her achievements.
Suggested Reading: Moral Policing: When Will Girls In Varsities Get Freedom?
Views expressed are author’s own.