What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

I read this article that teaches women how to dress modestly. The article recommends that women avoid wearing shirts that show anything below the collar bones, skirts and shorts that go higher than the knees, and tight fitting clothes.

The article says that women must not wear certain kinds of  clothes,  to prevent men (who may not be creeps or bad people) from being tempted to imagining what they look like beneath the clothes.

I am not convinced because I have read of many other men (who may not be creeps or bad people)  who will be attracted to the  sight  of a woman’s collar bones or ankles, or knees, or lips (with or without lipstick) or eyes lashes, or hair or the arc of her back. ETC.

If you read the comment section of “The way a woman dresses…” you will find capris or three fourths are also considered immodest by some men.  Jeans which the article says nothing against are considered suggestive by another commenter.

If you have seen Pakizah then you will know that even the sight of a woman’s feet is enough for some men to be  attracted to them.

Some other men think modesty is in the attitude and eyes, and not in the clothes.

So it does seem that modesty is a subjective term. It seems it is almost impossible for women to fit into everybody’s idea of modesty.

But more importantly how do women benefit from giving up free movement, comfortable clothing, the satisfaction of looking good, sunlight, fresh air, and a lot of personal freedom?

…In other words, what do modest women have that immodest women don’t?

They are told they have men’s respect.

Well, I am sure men’s respect is a very worthwhile thing. But seeing how millions of (immodest?) women are doing very well without this kind of ‘respect’, I really wonder if it’s time women stopped worrying about how men are imagining unprintable things about them, (because they find their clothing immodest) and started living their lives.

Thousands of women, (mothers, students, activists, nurses, athletes, journalists, engineers, construction workers, artists, actors, writers etc) are going about their daily lives without giving a thought to what every Tom, Dick and Harry is thinking when he sees them striding past.  They are all doing fine without fitting into every rikshaw-walla, coolie, clerk, politician, principal, army jawan and dhobi’s ideas of modesty.

I wonder who does a woman’s modesty empower… who do you think?

Related Posts:

1. What women ‘choose’ to wear…

2. Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work.

3. She does not ‘ask for it’.

4. Provocatively Dressed.

(who may not be creeps or bad people)

98 thoughts on “What do ‘Modest’ women have that their ‘Immodest’ sisters don’t…

  1. Hi, IHM as usual burning topic and i can imagine equally hot and sensational discussion
    as it is said beauty is in the eye of beholder.
    so people who wants to see immodesty in any one will find thousands things in them. if a woman then how she walks, talks, how she smiles, or looks at some thing, how she carries her self. any thing
    and you rightly said any thing can turn a man on actually we women are so attractive and alluring that no man can resist us hahahahhahahahh
    on a serious note
    who are the judges of modest and immodest. The men who love to see all those adult magazines, or give extra 2 mints to mid day paper to see the mate of the day photo. they talk about modesty?
    or the men who pinch women ( who are covered in so called modest clothes may be sari or kameez salwar) while walking on the roads
    every one knows sair is the most sexy outfit a woman can wear. or a full gown which covers the whole anatomy of a woman can be so sexy
    it is just some perverted souls who want to find something or other wrong in women to satisfy their egos and superiority.

    Absolutely Anju Gandhi :lol:

  2. Love this post IHM! Very thought-provoking.

    If you ask me, an immodest woman is a woman with an attitude a man can’t stomach! Period.

    IHM: But D do you think modesty empowers someone? Does it empower the modest woman?

    • It’s like asking who was more powerful – Queen Victoria or Queen Elizabeth. One played up the notion of the vulnerable woman, the other shunned it. Both were equally powerful though.

  3. I am a 30 yr old woman.
    I have spent so many hours thinking and planning what to wear just to please/attract the people around (I guess most of such instances were during my teenage/youth).
    I do seek respect.
    I love being praised for my dressing sense.
    …….
    But I do it as my own will. I do not want anyone to tell me what to wear so as to make sure that the others (read men) don’t stray. I believe it doesn’t help.
    The other day, a (sick)guy said something really bad(read vulgar) while I was busy soothing my crying/cranky baby.
    I was wearing a chooridaar-kameez(covering 96% of my body).
    No, I couldn’t say anything.
    I was too busy with my baby.
    ……………….
    I dont care for people losing their religion/morals just because they see an exposed arm/foot/or even cleavage of mine. I do not intend to be their moral-keeper. If they try to harm me just because I have been ‘careless’, I am capable enough to teach them a lesson (afterall aren’t they the vulnerable ones?).

    • Pujathakur, you are so right!

      Isn’t it natural to want to look good? Even little children love to look good. I find it ridiculous that we have to defend something like this! I agree this does not help, a creep will act like a creep no matter what we wear, in fact they get used to whatever we wear.

      Like all crimes this one is also best controlled by punishing the culprits.

      I and the other woman both had our kids with us in my most frightening experience with such molesters.

      • Ihm. Good post and the answer of ur question is Patriarchy because dress restrictions reinforces it But let me ask you a question Most ppl believe that women should take great care in choosing their dress and feels she should be attractive to others (more than men) . Is such a notion itself a sign of male dominance in society where women are considered private property and should be dresseded up to have value?

  4. “I wonder who does a woman’s modesty empower… who do you think? ”

    Obvious answer: Men. To control the women.

    You cant please everyone. Least of all every man’s sense of ‘modesty’. If its not one thing, they’ll find another to drool over. If you walk arnd in a burqa, they’ll find your feet or even your shoes ‘tempting’.
    Or maybe the purse. Or the keychain. A woman cant be expected to give up all of the above, just because some jerk somewhere might find it ‘tempting’. Hahaha.

    Why gives men the right to retrict women’s clothing, when its they themselves who need to exercise restrain?

    I absolutely agree Richajn!

  5. Well, I am sure men’s respect is a very worthwhile thing.

    Ha ha ha…..I love this line. It’s just too funny.

    Men still attack and molest ‘modestly’ clothed women. Where’s the respect there? So if it’s a choice between wearing uncomfortable clothes sanctioned by men, and still getting assaulted, and wearing what you want and getting assaulted, isn’t the latter option better?

    Quirky Indian

    IHM: Quirky Indian you will be surprised … many women will still disagree, they will argue in favour of this respect… I wrote another post on this all powerful RESPECT… http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/when-you-offer-her-respect/ :(

  6. yup…read mir taqi mir and all our other bards, lusting after an ankle, a strand of hair that escaped the veil.
    and i remember a friend from uni who was the only one to wear the head covering and coat and the guys in my class asking me if i had seen her without it, how did she look, their fantasies of one day it flying off with the wind…yaaaggghh.

    And Aneela, all this for men’s respect, which we may not get even after doing all this… I would rather value my respect for myself.

  7. SIGH!!!!

    there are women rooting for men’s “respect” eh?
    double sigh!

    Yes, and one way to get it is by not looking like a woman, or by not looking attractive. And that’s no guarantee either, because you never know what a man might start finding attractive next…

    attitude is very imp according to me…one can behave sleazy in indian wear and can be very dignified in western….it also depends on how u wear the attire….

    men have to stop blaming hormones and lack of self control n respect on women’s attire n what not!

    all these talks of “get a man’s respect” are leashes! to control women…

    I wonder who does a woman’s modesty empower

    the way its going IHM, i think its to empower male ego and sense of security. that’s it.

    And Crafty Shines who does it dis-empower…? :(

    • :(

      it dis-empowers women…from expressing who they are, from being who they want to be…from having an identity…..

      women shud not have to choose between having an identity and getting respect :(

      its ridiculous…

      i refuse to say that we are an evolved species…..

      • We are evolved Crafty Shines, just that some of us keep trying to push us back. I think if we all refuse to accept such regressive nonsense nobody can force us to give up our freedom in the name of modesty, tradition, respect, culture etc…

        You saw Pink Chaddi campaign work… and Kanpur Colleges had to repeal their ban on jeans… I think basically we can never take our freedom for granted.

  8. Every single sentence in this post is priceless. You are so right that the so-called modesty suits only men and hence it is propagated.
    I thought u would visit my blog on this post (http://manmahesh.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-mother-used-to-wear-sari-many-years.html) and will have to say some stuff on this, but then I think you missed it somehow

    Mampi I did leave a comment on your post!! About your mom speaking on television against FI… I read it many days ago!

  9. IHM small kids are raped or molested,what they were wearing which provoked those men to do such a shameful act ???

    IHM: But Saritha, do you think women who are modest gain something from giving up their comfort, and the joy of looking good etc?

  10. Pingback: Indyeah, an amazing soul! 'Consider it Crashed' talks with BlogAdda

  11. it all ridiculous!! i dont see a reason why anyones choice of clothes should or should not empower anyone else!

    to use it as a method of subjugation is plain pathetic!!

    grrrrrr!

    Hi Abha I join in the grrring :lol:

  12. IHM, Wonderful Post!

    The very idea of modesty is so variant! Some people find sarees modest – others consider that revealing. Some consider jeans immodest.. And as you who does it benefit – just the men! It is simply another way of controlling a woman. How many times do we hear of women telling their husbands – oh I don’t like you showing off your legs in those shorts! And the reverse? And the sad thing is that for a woman – it is not just the husband who can dictate – it is the in-laws, the society, even the maids! As you said in your other post – the way a woman dresses is everybody’s business!

    Just another way of controlling women. That is all it is! People don’t like women exerting their opinions, their choices – it threatens them.. And the fact that so many women are not financially independant – makes it easy.

    IHM: Yes, …like you say Smitha, “Just another way of controlling women.”

  13. I will take a jab at this . My theory –

    Men are selfish creatures . They want to ogle at women dressed fashionably/immodestly , but they do want their own mothers,daughters or sisters to tread on that path . This modesty rule is applied , so that at least some of them will follow it or be forced to follow it , and therefore provide them “decent eligible” women , to marry . The bottomline , Glamour gals are for fun and frolic , the Good ones to marry , or marry off to easily.

    Kislay I have wanted to write a post on this. I think many men lead unhappy lives because they are so mixed up about respect and love.

    • i am waiting for that post IHM.

      :) Awww thanks Sangeeta Khanna :)

      and kislay is right….the men( not all)want to see their women differently…

      and i ask why this modesty is something only women should have ……what about the men??

      and why on earth a woman should seek respect from men only, n does that come from dressing up?? or dressing down , for that matter…..isn’t self respect enough??

      IHM: Well said Sangeeta Khanna, I wish more of us thought this way!

  14. Loved what KislayChandra has said here. I absolutely agree. For men before marriage it is like merry go round with every other hot girl around (atleast in fantasy) but when it comes to marriage they want a homely, decent girl. How do they know what she has done before?

  15. Is there a guarantee that if we dress ‘modestly’ in their terms, we would not be attacked by perverts?… Who gives us that guarantee?
    And why are we craving for a man’s respect who does not respect the way a woman can think and act freely in this society?

  16. I dunno! I actually punched my sibling in the nose because he objected to my wearing a lipstick when I was young. Got bored and stopped wearing make up altogether unless it was for a party later on in life. in retrospect I guess lipstick wasnt the issue, my right to decide was ……

    My daughter in law wears dresses, deep cut tops etc. My son does not object. I am glad he is so secure and level headed

  17. Hi IHM,

    Frankly I think this entire dressing thing that we women think so much about is a load of nonsense. These guys who talk of respect and admiration and lust have one set of standards for themselves and their families and another for the world. They are hardwired to be voyeuristic, and ogle.. and they are also hardwired to be protective, and territorial.. essentially.. they are a confused lot :)
    Now, if we know that already, then how does it matter how we dress, right? Somehow it does. Its not about attraction at all… its about the perception of a person. Like Mampi had written about the head covering in her post… its just that these things are increasingly becoming symbols. i.e. if I wear a miniskirt… I might be really rich.. to have enough security! :D or I’m deliberately doing it to invite attention.
    I really don’t know how we can break free of these symbols.


    Sunshinesafari since the symbols have a different meaning in every mind, the only practical option is to ignore the symbols and live your life.
    :lol:

    • Hi IHM, On the contrary, I meant to say that symbols have a single meaning attached to them, and that its not just women, its the world that is plagued by this problem.. this shortcut method of identifying – categorizing people.

      We can ignore them, but the truth is.. that they exist.. and a large part of the world works that way. What one choses to do about them, depends on how strongly one feels about them…

  18. oh IHM i am fed up of fighting for my RIGHT to dress the way I want… does someone ever go tell men walking in only undies or may be a small lungi wrapped over covering barely nothing that it might provoke a women???

    are women not supposed to have hormones???

    its just another bloody excuse men have to control women…

    God know when will we be given the freedom to live as we want

    Brilliant post IHM

  19. and BTW u back IHM, havent seen u on my blog for a while now… there is a post u might like

    and ya thanks for the vote :D

  20. “avoid wearing shirts that show anything below the collar bones, skirts and shorts that go higher than the knees, and tight fitting clothes.”

    Really IHM I have had ENOUGH of this nonsense being spewed by men who want to have supreme control over women! No matter how covered up I am I will NEVER ever fit into the idea of modesty of some man or the other. So does that mean I stop going out? Maybe thats what will stop crimes against women..no? But then there won’t be women on the roads to assault, so the creeps will start breaking into homes!

    I was talking to a ‘friend’ the other day and he was talking about how ‘some’ women think that asking them to dress modestly is taken as infringement of their rights and how shallow these women are..well little did he know that I could have been one of ‘those’ women!


    IHM: Gosh Shilpa did you ask him why does he think do women mind being told how to dress???

    • I did not because I have had some arguments with him before about similar matters and I think now I totally judge him IHM!
      And you know what, he is as educated as they get!

  21. “I am not convinced because I have read of many other men (who may not be creeps or bad people) who will be attracted to the sight of a woman’s collar bones or ankles, or knees, or lips (with or without lipstick) or eyes lashes, or hair or the arc of her back. ETC.”

    Neither am I convinced IHM! Some men, even those who may not be creeps or bad people are attracted just by the fact that it is a woman even if said woman is bundled up from head to toe with nothing visible! So what to do short of stop being a woman so that these not so bad people do not imagine how the woman looks beneath all that layers of clothing and get attracted?? Anyone can imagine anything… and women are responsible for what men imagine?? Arre wah, what logic, has always been my way of looking at it. It is indeed unbelievable that women and their way of dressing is blamed for what goes through a man’s mind! If you ask me, when Vishwamitra’s penance was broken by the dancing apasara Maneka, the blame should have been laid clearly on Vishwamitra’s inability to be strong enough to resist female charm. If you want to do penance and that too a grown man wise to boot, it is your duty to not let anything affect you. At this rate if one of our children come away with a toy he liked from the toy shop, why should we blame the child?? Lets start from there. The child ‘imagined’ how he would enjoy playing with it, so he can take it away for a while, can’t he?? If grown men cannot take responsibility for their own thoughts and have to blame it on the way women dress, then…..

    Modest women have the respect of men?! I liked the way you put that! Lol. That’s indeed funny as ALL women are aware.

  22. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re sporting a mini skirt or covered completely from head to toe in salwars. The result is all the same. You get stared at. So it’s better to just live your life and wear what you want to.

    I completely agree Dhanya, because we cannot spend our lives trying to become invisible! They can think what they like but they better watch how they behave.. which is why it is sad to see women like Meeta Jamal and Nirmala Venkatesh … they can make girls feel very insecure, and obviously they encourage molestors by supporting them like this :( But

  23. Ohh its all bakwaas. The most respected dress “The sari” is the most ogled at and the most “exposing” one!

    But Reema do you think modesty is worth striving for? And worth sacrificing our freedom and comforts?

  24. “Humko accha nahi laga ki tumney birthday per dress pehni, wo bhi sleeveless, Sari pehanani chahiye thhee” Comments like this I hear every time my inlaws are here but do I cater……no.

    But do you think being modest makes life richer, fuller, happier for women?

    • wearing a sari on birthday would make them happy not me, and why would it make them happy, I guess it gives them a sense of control and no, in no way it would make me happier or fuller for that matter because I am the subject of control!!

      How accurately analysed Sands!!!! Absolutely!! I think we need to rethink this “Do it because it will make them happy..” You are right, we do need to ask, BUT WHY DOES IT MAKE THEM HAPPY?

      • Your blog just makes me happy everyday, thank you for writing such things that make us think and find out more about ourselves. Thank you!

  25. You know IHM, I wonder why we never ever argue that sometimes men may be great turn ons for women also. I remember finding some colognes, some fitting shirts etc etc at the work place very attractive- if I may say so attractive enough to give rise to fantasies later on. However, as a professional,. I would not let myself get distracted by that. I bet there are several women who have faced the same situation at work- but know how to curb their impulses. Indeed, it is so interesting that even here Viagra or Cymbalta – both for erectile dysfunction are advertised openly- but birth control pills are not as openly. There is always a euphemism attached to that. Look at sanitary napkin adverts in India as a case in point- and ads for mens underwear (I only remember Lux, yeh andar ki baat hai). Somehow as humans the female has become extremely sexualized- even the presence of a woman visually is as a sex symbol, not as a person. Modest or not, thats who a woman is – not her own person, but an object- of lust as the badgirl- whore or the sister-mother-goddess. A human no, she is not. I find the “allowed to wear” part very ridiculous. I don’t allow my husband to wear his clothes. As an adult I think he can take care of himself- so the same rules apply to me also.
    And modesty- who was it that said, as a fragrant flower, it is most useful when crushed? Sorry for the rant!

    • are women themselves victims of that belief that they are sex symbols?is such a belief the reason for so much importance in dressing up ?


      Charakan all humans love to dress up, men and women both (my post on Indian men’s fav colour confirms this, in India men have oil bath and ubtan and nai to shave them and perfumed oils (chameli ka tel) etc…?), we dress for ourselves, to feel good, and also for appreciation, we do not dress to be abused (both men and women and even children)… Looking good or well groomed has other advantages also (In PR and Interviews). Most extremists condemn all pleasure, including the joy of looking and feeling good.

      • My feeling is this. Most Women and Men like to dress up but not all. I know a few men who not even look into a mirror before going out They wear what they get first not bothering much abt matching colors or abt manly and feminine colors I feel some women are also like that But being a woman there is an undue pressure on them for dressing up.Such women tend to skip weddings but such men attend because men do not face adverse comments on way of dressing

  26. I simply loved this post.
    I think the question should be directed at women.
    The very women who cover themselves with black from head to toe on a hot day by “choice”. I am sure they think that this will get them approval and respect. They should ask themselves is it worth it to give up so much?
    But there is a lot more to it. This is why so many women “choose” to do it. We all seek respect. Not of every guy who walks on the street but of those who matter. So the ones that matter should first stop regarding respect correlated with what you wear. Rebellion works with some people. But the ones that say that they do it by choice, we cant fight it till their men shed their biases.

    • they think that this will get them approval and respect. They should ask themselves is it worth it to give up so much?

      Yes tearsndreams they really should!

      the ones that matter should first stop regarding respect correlated with what you wear.

      The ones who matter use this ‘respect’ to make women CHOOSE to dress ‘modestly’ :(

  27. Hmmmm…interesting…I do not think there is anything ‘modest’ or ‘immodest’ about how women dress. While I like to dress myself up the way i like, I like my dressing sense….yet i do pay attention to whom I am gonna meet with. Especially at work. I have male co-workers, i feel comfortable wearing anything but then theres is one who keeps looking even when I wear just tiny-winy deep neck top. So whenever I have a meeting with this guy, i make sure to wear something more ‘conservative’ – so to speak. And yet he makes me feel uncomfortable thinking he is scanning me while talking with me
    Now having said that, I do not think women clothes would provoke GOOD men, bad men yes and then there are kind in between

    • So whenever I have a meeting with this guy, i make sure to wear something more ‘conservative’ – so to speak. And yet he makes me feel uncomfortable thinking he is scanning me while talking with me

      Do you think wearing ‘modest’ clothing will stop this men from scanning you or do you think fear of action against him would work better in his controlling his behaviour?

      • well, I do not think it would stop him from scanning me….really. But it is not so obevious either that i can really take action against him. It is like something we can just understand the other person’s eyesight and what it is looking for and what that person is feeling inside….i would not fear to take action if something really would happen.

        so wearing ‘modest’ clothing will just make me feel comfortable that I am not providing O2 to the fire….that is all….

        • ok, so looks like it showed up, i have new idendity and that is what I will using… :)

          so it showed up under my new name
          indianworkingwoman….good news is, I am working on getting my blogsite ready, hopefully infew months I will have my thoughts out….

  28. Since I was a kid, my mom would tell me this Malayalam proverb that says it doesnt matter whether the thorn falls on the flower or the flower falls on the thorn, its the flower that suffers, wherein men were the thorn and women were the flowers. The conditioning is always that the woman should protect herself and her ‘modesty’. Men wouldn’t be asked to change, so it was supposed to be the girl’s duty to adjust. Everything a woman is supposed to do in the name of modesty is so that the men won’t have to change. Of course, I am not discounting the fact that there is no excuse for vulgarity, but something as innocuous as a comfortable T-shirt is also considered immodest. The ‘nightie’ is considered immodest in some families, in the South, even Salwar Kurtas are at times considered immodest (though there is no other Indian dress that covers up as much as that). And the modest woman surely has the ‘delusion’ I agree, because ignorance is bliss and you won’t rebel until you realise that all appeals for modesty are just a con for control. Its only when you realise that you have been manipulated, that you start introspecting and want to rebel, shaking up all those conventional people around you. That’s when the trouble or liberation, however you see it, starts. Modesty doesn’t make life richer, it makes it quieter though, because of its submissiveness. But IHM in our society it is a tough question to answer what is modesty/immodesty/vulgarity because ours is a society where every family lives in a different era of modernisation, so none of us will ever fit into everyone’s sense of ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’.

    IHM : Brilliantly put Cilla!!

  29. Hi IHM

    I don’t really think there is anything in what one wears (or shows). It’s all in the mind of the person and the viewer.

    Should there be any reason why a woman should fit in a man’s idea of modesty or try to get men’s respect; none for sure.

    Should there be any reason why a man should fit in a woman’s idea of modesty or try to get women’s respect; none I guess.

    [IHM: Well said Manish. I think all this talk of respecting is more like a sword dangling on women's heads, and I wish women would just refuse to prove themselves respectable by these stanadards...]

    Modesty is a myth now. It’s hardly left, in any of us. Do we need to discuss that?

    Best Regards
    Manish

  30. “Well, I am sure men’s respect is a very worthwhile thing. But seeing how millions of (immodest?) women are doing very well without this kind of ‘respect’, I really wonder if it’s time women stopped worrying about how men are imagining unprintable things about them, (because they find their clothing immodest) and started living their lives.”

    Bingo!! I say, F&^$%^$ the whole lot!! Gosh, this whole topic makes me so,so mad!!
    Completely agree with D. An “immodest” woman is one who`s attitude people cant digest!
    Then again, just what makes “society” so sanctimonious that they go around labeling women as modest and immodest?? How come we dont have immodest men???? Maybe those who roam around in shorts, showing off their hairy legs?? HUh?
    Not making much sense, because I`m getting angry and angrier at the thought. Shall get back when I`m a lil more chilled.
    P.S – Inlaws visiting. Dressing up has become an issue at my home! Hence the added anger! :)

    • Piper this topic makes me maddest when women like Nirmala Venkatesh and Meeta Jamal, who are in a position to make a difference, fall into the easy way out of blaming the victim and culture/traditon/modesty/respect/honor trap :(

  31. I think you should be able to wear whatever you like. You’re right in the fact that no matter what you wear, someone is going to find it attractive. There is a fine line between being protective and being neurotic.

    Eric Richardville I agree, neurotic is the word for such protection… though sometimes I think protection was how it all began, now it is only about controlling.

  32. well there is vast difference between molesters and men…It is natural for people to be attractive…in fact when you look attractive you feel more confident …

    is it that men get attracted to less? Actually no , men are usually attracted when they see less…this is because there is a lot of ‘unknown’ …

    Personally , I always see a girls face and also I judge people according to their ability to relate to me…For me it doesn’t matter what make up the girl wares but what the girl is made up of inside her head :)

    IHM: Vishesh, I think when we can like people for what’s in their heads we have better, happier relationships. Judging people entirely by their looks puts you at risk of being misled, like in this article it seems some men (who may not be creeps) think that if a woman is wearing what he considers revealing clothes, she is asking for molestation by him.

  33. modesty is a concept that is so subjective, there really is no way to define it. why not instead look at the term ‘appropriate’?

    yes, a woman should be free to choose what she wants to wear, but we are kidding ourselves if we think she will not be judged for her choice, if it is inappropriate.

    how far can a person push the ‘wear what you want’ philosophy?

    every place or situation, be it workplace, party, wedding reception, gym or fish-market, has unwritten dress codes of what is appropriate and what is not.

    i would say give some thought to the ‘appropriateness’ of what you wear.

    what women need is the freedom to make this choice, and the sense of responsibility to use this freedom wisely.

    it’s got nothing to do with men at all.

    • Magicalsummer I agree, “how far can a person push the ‘wear what you want’ philosophy?

      But here we are talking about who decides what is appropriate. When it comes to women, everybody except the wearer is considered wiser. We can vote, marry, raise kids, have successful careers… but we can’t decide what is ‘appropriate’? Also consider who are making this personal decision for us? Every next person on the street? (and everybody else)

      I think most women all over the world are doing perfectly fine without being burdened with any responsibility except to themselves.

  34. How come no one talks about men’s modesty? How come no one tells men what to not wear to become sexual objects in our eyes?

    How come men wear pants ALL the time.. while women have to wear Indian dresses to be modest? Why don’t men wear pajama kurta so as to not “excite” women who might not be “creeps” otherwise? Pajama kurta is a nice dress.. it keeps you covered and does not expose parts of your body that might provocate a woman. That will really earn you our respect..

    Also, while you are at it, please do keep the kurta buttoned upto your collar bone at all times. Some women find the starting point of hair on a man’s chest VERY attractive.. in fact, they have been known to conduct acts to themselves just thinking about it.. so please do not expose yourself to such “wrong” behaviour by dressing in a provocative way.

    Now, is the ridiculousness of the whole thing clear??

    Your thoughts are your problem, not mine. Please do not blame me for a perspective that views me as an object. That’s YOUR fault.


    IHM: Brilliant HDWK!! Loved reading this, your words made me smile and be angry at the same time :)

  35. As Smitha says, all rules are just for controlling women, IHM. Sometimes back a man came to our temple in a boxer shorts! My son was shocked! BOXER SHORTS!

    LOL I saw a man on a motorbike in short and wanted to take a picture to put on this blog, but missed him in the traffic, and here’s someone in a temple wearing the same thing!

  36. First of all thanks a lot for following me. I hope your support will inspire me to put in more thoughtful notes in my site.
    Regarding the way a woman dresses…my personal opinion is that a woman should wear what suits her and what gives her comfort-both physically and mentally-and at the same time should not appear vulgar. I feel that modesty empowers woman because it is the mind and attitude that finally matters.


    But Saji Ganesh, how does Modesty empower a woman? I feel it makes them loose control on their own bodies, and comfort and freedom…
    I also fear that just like Modesty, Vulgarity is also a subjective term…. what do you think? Like Kanpur colleges thought jeans are vulgar, Muthalik also thought jeans are vulgar, some people think shorts are vulgar… I feel it is better if these decisions be left to the wearer.

    • In today’s world everything has become subjective…..don’t you feel so when you you come across a news that a seventy year old widow has been gang raped or that a six year old girl has been molested by her neighbor? Sigh!……what else to do?

      Saji yes such cases prove how little what women wear matters in such crimes.

  37. Basically all these dressing restrictions stem from one thing – that desiring someone is somehow sinful. Sexual desire is a normal thing that all normal humans have. It’s only the forcing of one’s desires on someone which is sinful, not a woman’s body, or a man’s body or sex.

    I agree Nita! Your comment made me think… should blog about the sinfulness of desires!

    • the desire is only natural. the act without mutual consent has a harmful effect.

      marriage is an institution, has been constructed by society to limit its acts with one human being. !
      ..now that is a strong statement. i know. but when there is NO mutual consent it becomes an “ABUSE” …all kinds – physical, emotional, controlling of the dress, whom one can talk to or move with etc..etc..

      Absolutely Anrosh, it is abuse, and unfortunately we sanction this abuse by our ridiculous biased, moral policing :(

  38. where did you read that article ? whoever wrote it, is an asshole … he ( I guess so ) thinks that whenever a man looks at a girl in short dress, he is imaging what she looks like under it ? that’s insane !! and if there are people who always does that will spare women in sari or even parda ?

    capris is bad ? come on … am I alone here ? coz, I love to see my girl in capris, its cute isn’t it ? .. girls look special in sari, but for me, when my wife, or friend, or anyone wear jeans, I think they look pretty smart and cool ….

    please don’t think all men are insane like those who commented or wrote articles like these !!

  39. Ok! So if I see my own sister in a short dress, will I be imagining what she looks like under it??
    No!
    So that means I can control my mind. Right?
    So, where is the problem. In a woman’s dress or in the guy’s brain??

  40. “women are doing very well without this kind of ‘respect’, I really wonder if it’s time women stopped worrying about how men are imagining unprintable things about them”

    Amen to that IHM!!

    Thanks Nitwit Nastik!

  41. Why is it that modesty is demanded from women ? Why not men?

    I mean doesnt men want our respect ( going by their logic) ** their being someone who forces women to behave in a certain way**

    Sheesh!

    I think we should all tag and write about why men are not expected to dress and behave in a ‘modest’ manner. It seems it’s because women are not attracted to men’s legs, arms and faces (aren’t they?!!), without getting into that arguement let’s ask if then shouldn’t we consider REVULSION? I know most women are disgusted by immodest, vulgar and ill mannered men, and by creeps and leches… yet such men are excused by Principals and women like Meeta Jamal.

    And Winnie the Poohi I agree that men must seek and strive and work hard for women’s respect too. Relationships without mutual respect are unhealthy relationships :(

  42. Visiting your blog for the first time and sigh… i already missed so much ;)
    I haven’t yet read the post you are referring to… and i don’t even think i will… coz i don’t find it worth it.
    I just wonder… why only Men are so worried about ‘modesty’ of women.. specially in terms of clothes. I don’t remember seeing or reading any woman commenting about ‘what a man should or should not wear in order to look modest’. huh !
    Honestly… i believe that you should dress up according the place and occasion instead of worrying about who will think what ( so far as the ‘who’ is not someone important in your life ).

    • Welcome to my blog Purvi :)

      I agree women should demand that they be trusted and left alone to decide what they wear or don’t wear. They are not fools, in fact just look at where they have reached despite all these endless obstacles, I would say we are really smart!

  43. you know IHM, women judge women the most and the most harshly. Even educated women, for eg. the nurses who I work with night in and night out pass comments on girls who come to the hospital in great pain wearing their home clothes [shorts, skirts, sleeveless tops etc], worse judgement is passed if these are single girls who’re brought in by their boyfriends.
    “Kapde toh dekho dok saab…ghar se aate waqt cover karke ana chahiye na…aaj kal ke bachche pata nahi kaise boyfriend ke saath aajate hain, koi izzat nahi hai”…
    “arrey sister, agar itni himmat hoti ki kapde badal ke, lipstick laga ke, taiyyar ho ke aati toh aadhi raat ko aati hi nahi na dard mein. Aur theek hai, akeli rehti hogi toh bf le aaya hoga…main bhi toh akeli hun, kabhi mera bf le gaya hospital…toh ussey main kharaab toh nahi hoti?”
    “Madam yeh sab bf ka chakkar bahut ganda hota hai…shaadi se pehle kuch nahi karna chahiye…shaddi ke ek raat mein sab kuch acha aur change hojata hai…”
    bullshit.

    These women are other women’s worst enemies…when women won’t support each other, how can we blame men??? They can’t help their twistedness…

    Coffee angel … never thought of. this… it’s so true!! …reminds me of the time, I thought my 15 months old daughter had swallowed turpentine, and my maid rushed after me with a full length skirt to wear on top of my faded old shorts… (This when I lived in, walked, shopped etc in similar shorts)

  44. This morning I wrote a reply to suburbanlife, a blog friend of mine from Canada who was mentioning the puritanical attitude of Indians. This is what I replied to her and it might be relevant to this topic:

    yes the word you used “puritanical” is what India is becoming today. It wasn’t so when I was growing up in India and I think it was because a very small section of us were westernized and had an education in English. Today a huge section of the population has moved into the middle classes and as a result there are huge numbers of people wearing western clothes, and drinking and dating openly. This is frightening the small extremist majority and also the older generation who comes from a more conservative middle class background who see their children change before them. Affluence, cable television, higher education, and exposure to the world of the younger generation has increased the generation gap. There was hardly any generation gap between me and my parents as they were liberal and broadminded and I was allowed to meet boys and wear western clothes. Most people in my family were this way and that is why we never thought it a big deal. But today I am shocked at the way the parents behave towards their children because of their narrow minded ideas.

  45. And I thought such articles could only be written / thought of / published in the 19th century :(

    It is crazy when women are treated as a pets – told on how to behave, what to drink etc. by their masters. But again I say IHM, things are changing…


    Yes Rakesh I agree :) The fact that we are freely blogging about it and men and women are condemning such articles is an indication times are changing.

    • ihm, the percentage of people who have access to computers are far less in india and we are only seeing the english speaking population, who have already overcome many obstacles and are empowered to many extent.

      Also people like muthalik who was barged for the incident and other moral police have political impertive for ‘attracting attention’ and for keeping their names in the media , than completely disappearing..

      Like I wrote on my blog – people like “roccys” exist in millions. Indian gal is a courageous soul ( your current post ) and she has reached out..that is the way to go. since you write on a lot of such issues, it will be great to build a database on organizations to help people, just on your sidebar – just a suggestion…because many people may not write but will atleast seek help.

      GOOD WORK ..IHM..I am proud of you. MAY YOUR TRIBE INCREASE.

  46. The best way to support Muslim women would be to say we oppose both racist Islamophobes and the burqa. We’ve been silent on too many things out of fear we’ll arm the right wing.

    Soad Saleh, a professor of Islamic law and former dean of the women’s faculty of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar University — hardly a liberal, said the burqa had nothing to do with Islam. It was but an old Bedouin tradition.

    I am a Muslim, I am a feminist and I detest the full-body veil, known as a niqab or burqa. It erases women from society and has nothing to do with Islam but everything to do with the hatred for women at the heart of the extremist ideology that preaches it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/03/opinion/03iht-edeltahawy.html?bl&ex=1246680000&en=17f27e1dd7a08d96&ei=5087

  47. I think there is nothing wrong with dressing up as one likes, men wear shorts while playing and it is definitely more comfortable than full pants. But to wear certain attire only to attract the opposite sex creates a sort of dependence – you don’t want your happiness to be dependant on what the opposite sex feels about your dress, right? This applies for both men and women. Even men wear impressive dresses whose purpose is to attract the opposite sex only.

    Freedom is a very good thing when people are ready to take responsibility for anything that happens afterwards.

    Destination Infinity

    While I agree about responsibility etc I fear the term is also misused to curb freedoms… And and DI attracting the attention of the opposite sex and wanting to attract sexual assaults are not the same thing. I read somewhere recently how this serial killer in some Hindi movie goes about killing brides in red wedding saris… You point out about dependence on looking good and being found attractive, I somehow feel that also can be left to the individual, if we can depend on brains and skills, and talents (mostly we are born with)why not beauty???

  48. “I wonder who does a woman’s modesty empower… who do you think?”

    The Weak.

    From time immemorial, the weak have always tried to control the stronger, the innocent. That is a humanity thing…and not only a ‘sex’ thing. The men that behave this way are (or in some ways feel) themselves weaker to women. Somehow inferior. That is why you will find some men who do not care what a woman wears and others who loose their minds when seeing an attractive woman wearing whatever happens to attract that particular man. Whether it be a salwar kameez, sari, jeans, sweat pants, shorts or halter dress.

    Here in the US, women walk around everyday in public in extremely revealing clothes and they are not jumped or pinched or leered at around every corner. It happens, don’t get me wrong. But it’s about what people accept and what they don’t accept. Women here stood up many years ago, bopped the collective manhood over their collective heads and shouted “Knock it the F*** off!!!”.

    I believe that it’s the guilty who should be punished for uncivil behavior. It is under their control and they should be punished for not controlling themselves…not the other person for living freely.

    But it is also EVERY woman’s responsibility to stand up for herself, for her sister, her mother, her daughter and every woman out there and say enough is enough when it comes to such behavior. Both from the man (or person) and the legal system that ignores it or punishes it by certain attire.

  49. a way to dress…. Ha!!

    i know guys who lust and imagine abt “wat might be under those burqas islamic women” wear… and i have heard some idiot quipping that madisar saree is the sexiest women wear yet , not withstanding the yards and yards of cloth it demands…

    Men will remain men wat ever a women wears…. they have fetish for every listed n unlisted thing on the earth…. u cant change the way they think :(

  50. Men will look. No matter what a girl wears. Period.

    Dressing appropriately to the occasion or place is important but moral judgement should be locked in the closet when stepping out.

    As for what is it that ‘modest’ women have that immodest women dont, I think there is no answer to that. Modesty is just a matter of perspective. What is modest for me might be immodest for someone else. Also which of the 2 is better is in itself a very debatable topic! It is like asking which is better – a cow or a lion. :D You may ridicule one for being a coward with zero style quotient and the other for being lewd. So there is no consensual answer I guess!

  51. IHM, I had a teeny query. If I wear a saree and go around deceiving/robbing/killing people, does that make me modest because I’m wearing a saree or immodest coz I’m doing all that or both or none? The mind boggles.

    A woman who wears saris and bangles and mangalsutra etc is not capable of doing anything sinful Surbhi. Just like a woman wearing noodle straps or drinking in pubs, or dancing with men has no right to complain if she is assaulted.

  52. Pingback: Thank god for small mercies. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  53. US women do dress slutty – congratulations you’ve come a long way baby – can’t you see you’ve degraded yourself? guess not.

    me – What is ‘dress slutty’? Do you mean dress in a way that is revealing? How does such clothing degrade a human?
    It is wrong to feel guilty about finding a person attractive. The thoughts are natural. What would be wrong is being unfaithful if one is in a relationship. It might indicate 1. that the person is not suited for commitment, 2. That the relationship is not suited to the person. There maybe other problems which the person must deal with but if there is guilt associated with finding a woman attractive – it could be because somewhere there is a belief that such feelings are wrong but the guilt is not enough to stop the thoughts – no matter how well covered a woman might be.

    anyways, men may not jump the women physically (but their minds are)
    and that’s not a good thing – for the man or the woman

    Me- ‘but their minds are’ – Why is it not a good thing? And by fully covering herself up, does a woman stop men from thinking (unholy thoughts) about her? It in fact it reduces men’s threshold and a mere sight of an ankle might bring what you call ‘unholy’ thoughts to a man’s mind. (Or a woman’s mind. Women are sexual beings too)
    Where ever there is repression and segregation men are seen to become more aggressive in street sexual harassment. Countries like Saudi Arabia have sexual harassment when women are covered from head to toe.

    the woman needs to control herself – from immodestly dressing
    By ‘immodest’ dressing you mean women should not dress attractively? So that men, who are forced to live in a world without women loose all ‘control’ even when they see a a bare arm or a 13-14 year old child? Why not meet, interact, find compatible and willing partners, marry these partners, live happy lives…?

    the man needs to control himself – from wandering eyes & imagination

    Me – What’s wrong with men AND WOMEN looking at each other and noticing how attractive the other is? It is a perfectly harmless and natural thing to do! It’s also the first step to a healthy man-woman relationship. How does one find a partner if one never looks at another person? I know of couples stuck in miserable relationships, but being forced not to interact they had no chance of finding compatible partners.

    the both need to help eachother – what a concept!
    Mutual help and respect is a good thing no doubt…

    oh but we wouldn’t want men and women working together for each other’s
    holiness now would we —

    Me – Holiness? You mean men and women liking each other, and finding each other attractive is unholy?

    thank you feminists

    Me – Err ?!?

  54. I saw the title of the post and immediately realized that I had to read it!
    I’m in my late teens and was recently accused of dressing “inappropriately”, in a manner that did not “befit” my Indian culture. So, I too have been wondering on what it means to dress appropriately when inappropriately entailed a normal T-shirt and a very, very, very (it touched the floor) long skirt.
    I think it’s really ridiculous that men can walk around shirtless and no one will deem it inappropriate but if a woman wears something that’s sleeveless, capris or anything “too tight”, it’s immediately a mar to her character. As though it actually makes a difference.
    Who makes this codes anyway? Who says this is appropriate, this is not, this is modest and this is not?

    It doesn’t do anything except make people like me fee like I do not belong to the “culture” I was brought up in.

    Me – We are a strange culture Ariyathe! We want girls to be intelligent and know all about economics, law, medicine and politics but we don’t want them to use their own minds when it comes to personal choices. Do you live in a very small city/town? I feel the wearer should be comfortable with what she’s wearing, but we Indians love to dissect a girl’s choices. I have learnt that generally people get used to it if we are confident and comfortable.

  55. Pingback: Bikini vs Burka: The Debauchery of Women « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  57. A modestly dressed woman would not get much attention on her body by perverts but an immodestly dressed woman surely attracts perverts and also non-perverts.The chances of an immodestly dressed woman being fondled or even raped is 200% higher than a modestly dressed woman.

    Me – It’s simply a matter of how men are used to seeing women dressed. In places where women wear saris, men do not react to the sight of a bare back, but would notice a woman in a salwar kammez, or baggy jeans and loose T shirts. And in places where women are covered in burkas – they are still harassed, take a look, http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/out-with-the-boys-for-a-night-of-numbering/

    Little girls and old women are also sexually assaulted. And in Afghanistan little boys too. Men need to be stop expecting to be treated like children. Punishment for misbehaviour is what makes such criminals behave themselves. And of course there are these tips – http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/httpindianhomemaker-wordpress-com20100717sexual-assault-prevention-tips-guaranteed-to-work/

    Besides that, most decent man have less respect for the former too.

    Me – I am sure men’s respect is very valuable… but I hope you read this post before commenting – I have already wondered the worth of ‘respect’ from those who don’t expect respect to be mutual.
    Maybe you would like to read this,
    http://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2009/01/30/when-you-offer-her-respect/

  58. Pingback: Provocatively Dressed « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  59. This is outrageous. If I can not have the freedom to dress as I please, then the men should impose a system on themselves so that they are restrained. Their hormones are the issue and to be taken seriously, what about a woman’s good high/feeling on being able to wear what she wants?

    I see no point in dressing modestly and vying or respect from anyone who does not have true respect for women as a whole.

  60. Pingback: Do you think men in regressive societies where women are not respected or valued are more prone to ‘losing control’? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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  64. In a footwear shop I saw an Arab woman buying a shiny skin colored sandals. I felt why is she trying to sexualize the feet? Is it because that’s all what can be seen in a burqa? Modesty is immoral itself. It dictates that a woman is a sexual being, not a human. Nobody asks men what to wear, they enjoy their comfortable clothing. Modesty exists in cultures where men are not “gentlemen”. Old grannies better know, that, they are upbringing their girls to only make themselves feel ashamed of them, as if there’s something sinful about being a human female?!

  65. Pingback: Dad wears short shorts to teach daughter what she wears is everybody’s business and everybody’s approval proves her great worth. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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