‘What Shri Yesudas said in public is what most of the parents are telling in private.’

I was away and did not see this positive news until Saturday afternoon. The times are changing and it’s good to hear long established lies being debunked.

Thanks for sharing Mr G. Vishwanathjee.

Yesudas strikes a sour note with comments on women’s attire

“What should be covered must be covered. Women should not trouble others by wearing jeans,” K.J. Yesudas, musician, said here on Friday, inviting protests from political leaders, women’s groups and the public.

“They [women] should not try to become like men but must behave modestly,” he continued. The attire, he said, is unbecoming of Indian culture and what lends beauty to a woman is her demureness.

Until recently comments like this were accepted as common sense and traditional wisdom.

So it’s a huge positive that no matter how obviously absurd Mr Yesudas’s comment might seem to some of us, it is still being challenged, discussed and responded to.

Unbelievable though this seems, there are many who still agree with him, and are going to quote him as the final word on what their women should be allowed to wear.

And those who quote him would not just be doing this because they hate women, but because they can’t see what options can their women be permitted.

Many of them sincerely believe that lewd comments or stares (i.e. women failing to avoid attention or disrespect from men) is amongst the worst things they can watch happening to their women, worse than their women being allowed to lose freedom, happiness, and worse than their women not being viewed as people with feelings of their own.

Everything must be sacrificed (by women) to ensure that lewd comments and stares don’t offend those who fail to see who should be outraged and by whom/what.

Because they believe that women should be held responsible for protecting the sensibilities of those respectable people who do not want to watch women being subjected to lewd comments.

This comment is a response to the article in the Hindu.

What Shri. Yesudas said in public is what most of the parents are telling in private. I would like to suggest these progressive people to just remember for a moment of the past as to whether they had ever noticed or felt embarrassed or scared when their daughter or close relatives wearing these dresses were stared upon by strangers or subjected to lewd comments.

I hope the outrage and protests bring to notice that:

1. What should be found objectionable and embarrassing, and should be controlled is the ‘lewd comments’.

Yes it’s difficult to understand after centuries of having heard otherwise.

So let me attempt to explain.

2. Making excuses for the lewd comments also means – that now, after centuries of doing this, we aren’t sure who is the victim:

i.)  the harasser – being troubled by women in jeans, or

ii.)  the women, or

iii.) those who believe they have to take decisions for ‘these women’.

3. All along, the person making ‘lewd comments’ knows he has well known figures commiserating with him. (Some of them are probably justifying their own past and future actions?)

4. Only now since more of us, including women, have a Voice do we learn that women have feelings too.

Suchithra krishnamoorthy, playback singer:
#Yesudas Men shouldn’t be allowed to talk so much and must learn to behave. Y provoke us women into wanting to slap u?

 

5. Though I think misogynists should be allowed to talk – Silence does not change any points of view, Dialogue does.

6. And dialogue also means that we know we aren’t the only ones who can see how absurd it is to defend an obvious wrong, and to blame the one who has been wronged.

Related Posts:

“People will say we encouraged these men to follow us, even though we are innocent”

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

The way a woman dresses…

Women and their unmentionables. Understanding Objectification.

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

“My dad tells me not to wear skimpy outfit when he is around”

“The male community, including myself, needs only 10 minutes, just ten minutes… to send what is called sperm, into the uterus of a female.”

 Gujarat Police urges girls to stop wearing jeans, shorts

This Shame belongs to Who?

“Sometimes it seems like every single thing I do has the potential to be something ‘provocative’.”

Yes, I’m a woman, I have breasts and a cleavage, Deepika Padukone slams leading daily.

My skirt is not your license, pervert. – A splash of my life…

What is this big problem with Bra Strap Showing?

Did the posters threatening acid attacks on women wearing jeans surprise you?

 

“The male community, including myself, needs only 10 minutes, just ten minutes… to send what is called sperm, into the uterus of a female.”

Shail shared a part of what Dr Rejith Kumar said in a speech at the Government Women’s College, Thiruvananthapuram,

“His patronizing and arrogant tone makes it worse.

“The male community, including myself, needs only 10 minutes, just ten minutes (pointing to himself) as a Biology medical science teacher I can say, just ten minutes, to send what is called sperm, into the uterus of a female. But for the next 10 months the child will grow in the mother’s, the woman’s womb. That is why the Holy Koran teaches that women should conduct herself properly. But, they (girls) don’t like it!
If a boy jumps, ‘I want to jump more than that’ is the girl’s attitude. If you (girls) try to jump like the boys do, you will slip and fall and hurt your backbone and your uterus will be displaced. Then you will have to go to (mentions some hospital) spend 3 to 4 lakhs to get the uterus back in place, that is if you want to have a family. If you don’t need a family then its okay.”

Video here, http://www.bharatchannels.com/asianet-news-shows-watch-online/anti-women-speech-by-drrejith-kumar-in-govt-womens-college-thiruvananthapuram-video_ac29197df.html#.URsXFlqSD-S

Here’s another video (in Malayalam)

A decade ago he would have probably got away with this, but I see hope in the young woman, Arya, who booed him and walked out.

Kerala student stands up to anti-women speaker

Do you think some of the students (or their teachers and parents) might take what Dr Rejith Kumar is saying seriously?

And then there is this 21 year old.

She has a job and she earns more than most people do with her education and at her age. She loves her job and leaves no opportunity to learn more (and earn more). She has a boy friend who she says she fell in love with only after she was sure he was the kind of guy she could spend her life with. So how was she so sure he was the one? She says he was good looking, didn’t have any ‘bad habits’ and he traveled by train to her home town in West Bengal to meet her parents and take their blessings, “Only after that I loved him“.

And what if your parents had not approved of him?“”How could they disapprove, he came to seek their blessings and he took care of me when I fell ill here, so far from home!” (She sees his taking care of her during her recent illness as a sign that he would make a responsible and caring husband, unlike Anaya/Shravan Kumar who feels she needs to be grateful for this).

And how did they meet? It seems she called him from her cellphone and he was angry when she claimed it was a wrong number, and she apologized but they continued talking. His parents were initially not happy, “They know their son is good looking but they had to understand that he loves me.

She has bought a refrigerator (which they switch off during winters), a desert cooler, a large screen TV, a food processor, a bicycle and hire a room which is on the main road and gets plenty of sun light.  When the temperatures dipped to .1 C and I offered her some woolens, she accepted only a pair of jeans. She wore it with a kurta two days later. I asked her how her family and boyfriend would react to it. “What’s there to react, it covers the legs, has pockets to keep my pass, is thicker and warmer… when I wear it in my home town everybody is going to be astounded! Nobody wears jeans there!” But, “Worn like I have done, where’s the problem?

So this young woman is earning, supporting her family and she brought her younger sister from her home town to NCR and got her a job in a Mall. She takes initiative in romance and ensures that parental approval is got (and has no doubt they couldn’t but trust her decision). She also gets her in laws approval in her no nonsense style. “At first they hesitated because their son is so handsome, but looks are god given, and if he likes me then where is the problem.” What if they had still not approved? “We would have waited. After they get to know me, how can they disapprove? What is wrong with me?

She has broken traditional taboos. She initiated her romance with this young man, she uses a cell phone and wears jeans. She doesn’t think she needs to forget her family when she gets married, she expects her boy friend to respect and care for her family and is willing to reciprocate (“They will see how I am when I am married to their son, when he cares for my parents why would I not respect his?“)

Full of common sense, positivity, assertiveness and confidence – women like this are a Shravan Kumar’s nightmare. This young woman has studied till class seven and had to start working after that.

She works as a cook, and her boy friend is a driver.

Do you think she has just been lucky? Or is it the right attitude? Did it help that she moved away from home and is financially independent?

Updated to ask:

Did it also help that she has EXPECTATIONS, that she did not expect to be miserable? How do you expect to be happy if you are raised to be grateful for not being treated shabbily? What do you think?

A Sari to make you a Respectable Indian Teacher.

A local government college in Bhopal has banned jeans pants for lady teachers instructing them to wear saris while in the campus.

A spokesman of the management of Sarojini Naidu (Nutan) College said that the decision was taken to instil Indian culture in the college.

He said that till now, teachers were wearing salwar suits, kurtas and jeans due to which it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between them and students.

The spokesman said that a similar decision on enforcing a dress code for students would also be enforced from the next session.

“A dress code for students cannot be enforced during the middle of an academic session,” he said.

Or watch the news here.

“There is a personality of a teacher. You are standing wearing anything, or jeans that look vulgar, that is not right. Even students do not respect you as they think. So, this is very important,” said Pandit. (A teacher)

Should colleges be telling the students that traditional clothing can make a female wearer look ‘respectable‘? And so not wearing a sari does exactly the opposite?

Why is a salwar kameez – very much a traditonal Indian outfit, less respectable?

One assumption could be that the sari makes a woman look older. Also traditionally, in some parts of India, all married women must wear sari. I have blogged about meeting someone who thought that married women who do not wear sari are doing it behind their in laws’ and husband’s backs.

Bombay High Court held that a marriage can’t be ended over a sari.

The college could to be trying to say that a teacher in a sari is seen as older and ‘respectably married’ (or at least marriageable).

This is how stereotypes are created.

Is it okay for a college to ask the students to associate ‘respect’ (or honor!) with sari and vulgarity with Jeans?

“In thousands of ways, our culture has conditioned us to anticipate rape as a natural consequence of violating social norms”. These misconceptions are responsible for women blaming themselves for sexual crimes against themselves (…makes it easier for those who don’t care to take action).

The male teachers are not expected to wear dhoti and achkan. Doesn’t the college think the students need to respect the male teachers too? Why teach the students that double standards and gender bias are acceptable?

Has the college really given this a thought? There are many who think sari is ‘sensual’.  Jeans are actually seen as comfortable and easy wear, and saris as ‘dressy’ by many others. Many others feel sari is not easy to maintain or move in, and not weather appropriate, while jeans and salwar kameez are.

Also consider why is it so essential for the female teachers (if at all) to look ‘different from students’? What if a teacher continues to look like one of the students (i.e. young and unmarried) no matter what she wears?

And most importantly, shouldn’t an adult female wearer (like the rest of the population) be trusted to decide what is appropriate for her to wear?

Compare this news from Bhopal to this news from Lahore,

Jeans, Body Hugging Dresses Banned in Lahore College fearing Terror Threats.

Related Posts:

Not Just a Pair of Jeans

No Jeans for a Indian Daughters in law.

The way a woman dresses…

Provocatively Dressed.

Can’t end marriage over sari ;)

 

This post was in the drafts  and was a result of this news,

‘Can’t end marriage over sari’

MUMBAI: Sari may be a bothersome garment, especially compared to ‘Punjabi dress’, but a marriage cannot be ended over it, Bombay HC has held.

In the petition, the wife cited several instances of cruelty to which she had been subjected, including husband’s illicit relationship with another woman. One of her grievances was that she was forced to wear sari by her in-laws.

 

 

He prefers Sari, you like Punjabi Dress?

Education has gone to your head I guess!

He wear trousers, you complain?!

From such comparisons please abstain!

He’s your husband!

Please apologise.

Girls should know their place

Guys will be guys.

Marriage is sacred in my view,

Can’t end over such a trivial issue.

Aim a little higher!  Understand this,

There’s a little point that you missed.

He too can’t end marriage over a sari 😉

So go ahead and wear jeans you Bhartiya nari.

😆

 

Edited to add:

Other cases,

1.  “Lousy cook, mother? No reason for divorce.” (Thank You Suranga)

2. And here divorce was not granted, although  “His mother filed an affidavit that she works 8 am to 8 30 pm, but does ‘no additional work’ at home.

 

 

 

Lucky to be treated with respect?

An elderly friend once said her only prayer for her daughter was, “God grant her good luck (naseeb)”. She said she had seen women who were beautiful being treated cruelly, she had seen rich girls with huge dowries being treated like ‘maid servants’, she had seen highly educated girls being treated like they had no minds of their own – and she had seen ‘average looking, ordinary girls’ living like princesses.

Some girls are lucky, they wear what they like, their husbands love them, their in laws respect them, they visit their parents whenever they like…

I didn’t agree. If it depended on luck then we were left helpless. I thought one could expect to be treated with respect from those one treated with respect. Wasn’t it supposed to be mutual?

Now I feel it isn’t luck but self confidence that ensures respect. Legal rights and being born in a Democratic country helps  tremendously.

And then today I read this,

‘In laws insistence on the daughter in law wearing a sari does not amount to cruelty, says Bombay High Court’.[Link]

And what about being beaten if she does not wear a sari – does that amount to cruelty? [Click to read]

I don’t know how many Indian women would actually go to court for their right to be treated like intelligent adults. Any mention of such rights would be seen as unreasonable – even radical. Most women accept this (and more) as their destiny while their ‘luckier’ friends and neighbors, and other family members go on living their lives without having to take permission for every little personal decision. Sometimes  there are two sisters in one family – one leads a ‘lucky’ life. One doesn’t. We accept that as their destiny.

This friend doted upon her daughter and she grew up into a confident adult. When she was 22 she confided in me.  She was going to marry a class mate her parents didn’t yet approve of. They eventually did approve and now her mother blesses the son in-law for all the good luck he brought her. She doesn’t realise the good luck was given to her  daughter when they gave her the confidence that made her say, ‘They don’t approve of him YET, but I know they would eventually. They know I won’t want to marry him unless  I was sure he was really so right for me 🙂 “.  She didn’t want me to speak on her behalf – she needed no go-betweens. She knew she could speak to her parents about anything.

Hundreds of adults like this young couple in Kanpur who committed suicide by jumping in front of a speeding train probably did not have the ‘luck’ she had. Maybe they feared that their decision as two adults would not be respected, even though no matter what the  Khap Panchayats say, the law was on their side.

Related posts: The symbolism of a saree at Careless Chronicles.

What women ‘choose’ to wear…

…continues to be everybody’s business.

Iran
‘Iranian sports bodies have now agreed the girls can wear caps that cover their hair but not their necks. The Iranian girls’ football team is to be allowed to play in the Youth Olympics.’ […]
France
In France those who force women to wear burka would be punished. […]
Belgium
Belgium became Europe’s first country to vote for a ban on the full Islamic veil or burqa. […]
Denmark
Burqua or Niquab have no place in Denmark. [link]
Canada.
“…women’s rights and freedom of religion – what happens when they appear to collide? ”

The burka is to be banned. Those agents of medievalism who were hitherto forcing Canada’s Muslims into a medieval corner of segregation and isolation, have been challenged. – Tarek Fatah. [Read more]

Burka is often compared to the Bikini. Feminists feel both objectify women. Fundamentalists have strong opinions on both.

Some  people see the bikini as a threat to their culture.

Governments have considered the idea of banning the bikini. ( Another example, here)

For some jeans are unacceptable, some others think a sari is immodest, ‘in Nagaland where women remain topless in some villages. Well no rapes take place there and no eve teasing either,’ (Click here to read the article.)

No matter what a woman chooses to wear, somebody has a problem.

Burka as a choice.

Some feel a Muslim woman has the right to choose to wear a burka.

I recently chanced upon Tarek Fatah’s comment on this picture on Face Book.

Tarek Fatah: Imagine, there are liberal feminists in the west who defend the right of a woman to live under this horrid and cruel mobile prison.

Is this really about women’s choices?

Around 1987, BJP insisted, that if a widow volunteers to burn herself on her husband’s pyre, her choice should be respected.

The same voices object to women ‘choosing‘ to wear jeans, or women  ‘choosing‘ to marry out of community. It seems choosing to be burnt alive is about the only choice women should have.

Tarek Fatah, (Canada) says,

“The Canada I came to with my wife and daughters should not be a haven  for a medieval, misogynist doctrine that traps women under the guise of  liberalism and choice.” [Read more]

It’s true that liberal feminists support the Burka in the west.

There is also a concern that this  ban might set a precedence of the government encroaching on citizens’ civil rights.

In India those who oppose the burka, also object to  tight jeans and spaghetti straps. They might change their minds when they read this news.

Jury acquitted Nicholas Gonzalez because they felt, ‘Rape of woman in skinny jeans ‘not possible’.

Although, ‘Many folks have pointed out that it’s patently stupid to assert that skinny jeans cannot be removed without cooperation, and then even cooperation in removing clothing does not indicate consent‘.

Should women trust the Jury?

There are many who believe that women should choose to wear clothes  that guarantee not to provoke a helpless rapist to ‘offend their modesty‘.

This was impossible until recently. Crimes against women were committed, no matter what they wore.

But now I am sure the jury of six men and six women would vouch for the safety of skinny jeans?

[Note: The post became too long, I deleted some quotes to trim it a little. ]

Related posts:

The way a woman dresses…
What do modest women have that their ‘immodest’ sisters don’t?
The art of not being provocative.
Provocatively dressed.
She does not invite it.

What would you not change for love?

I have been receiving email links that accuse Indian women of dereliction of duty, when they marry men from other faiths. Indian women are solely responsible for the honour of all Indian religions and cultures so these accusations are not new.

Love Jehad [Do read this link] should not become another tool to control women.  As an adult, a woman should remain free to marry anyone from any religion. And if she chooses to, let her convert.

But my personal opinion is that love and marriage should not require either of the partners to stop being who they really are… simply because they can’t.

1. I feel one should not need to convert to a partner’s religion.

2. I feel one should not need to change names or surnames. It is inconvenient and unnecessary, but even if it was convenient, it’s based on the principal of ownership of another human. So the very premise, in my opinion, is wrong.

3. I feel one should not need to change feelings towards one’s own parents and family. Unfortunately girls are sometimes expected to do this; especially in joint families… Marriage should add to your life, not take away from it.

4. Friends and family are a support system, nobody should be asked to give them up.  Also isolation of the victim is common in cases of Domestic Violence. (Now, the Domestic Violence Act has made it an offence to stop a woman from meeting her family).

5. One should not need to change one’s Personality. For example, no extrovert should be asked to become an introvert. That’s controlling.

Everybody, including women, must have some interests of their own, and some me-time, so if she is asked to stop interacting with the world (to protect her!), she better watch. Insecurity and mistrust are not good signs. And…

6. Trust must include faith in and respect for her judgement. Giving in to the spouse’s unreasonable wishes does not improve a relationship. Such controlling might be the beginning of Domestic Violence – verbal or physical.

7. The woman should be trusted to decide how she must dress, and not her husband’s grandmother’s cousin’s daughter’s brother in law.

Do you think we should need to change ourselves for love or marriage? And how much? Is it true that we can find happiness in our partner’s happiness (after the first few months of a relationship), or do we need our own happiness too?

No pain, no gain?

A friend of mine refused to attend any aarti last year- she was upset because her wish was not granted. This year she decided to give God one more chance. She fasted regularly but feasted on permitted foods all day. She made an occasion out of a fast, she bought pretty flowers, dressed in traditional wear, bought new bangles, bindi, veni etc. She met other pious friends, and they all fasted (and feasted) together. And I self-righteously wondered what all this fun and dressing up had to do with piety. Wasn’t one required to give up pleasure when one fasted?

Another friend was grateful for her child’s board results; she rushed to the temple, no tilak or flowers… she went as she was, in an old pair of jeans.  The above mentioned friends disapproved, they thought jeans were inappropriate for a place of worship.

It seems we have very different ideas of fun, but most of us are sure that prayers need some giving up of pleasure. And although dressing up and looking attractive is fine, only the traditional and conservative look is considered appropriate for any interactions with god.

I wonder if we glorify formality and discomfort. Or is this about identity? Do we need a dress code to seek help from God? Can we converse with god Amitabh Bachchan style?

Do you agree with Sahir Ludhianwee’s thoughts in this song,

Here are the lyrics.

संसारसे भागे फिरते हो,

भगवान को तुम क्या पाओगे

इस लोक को भी अपना ना सके,

उस लोक में भी पछताओगे

ये पाप हैं क्या, ये पुण्य हैं क्या,

रीतोंपर धर्म की मुहरे हैं

हर युग में बदलते धर्मोंको

कैसे आदर्श बनाओगे

ये भोग भी एक तपस्या हैं,

तुम त्याग के मारे क्या जानो

अपमान रचेता का होगा,

रचना को अगर ठुकराओगे

हम कहते हैं ये जग अपना हैं,

तुम कहते हो झूठा सपना हैं

हम जनम बीताकर जाएंगे,

तुम जनम गवाकर जाओगे.

(Roughly translated:

When you run from the real world, how are you going to you find God?

You can’t live in this world, how will find joy in the next world?

What is Sin? Isn’t it just religion sanctifying or forbidding something?

Religion changes every century, what will guide you?

Living and loving your life is a prayer too, but you are obsessed with sacrifice.

When you reject the creation, you are insulting the creator.

We say this world belongs to us. You say the world is just an illusion!

We will live our lives, you will waste yours.)


The night I was not an easy prey.

We were traveling by train (second class) to Punjab on a hot May night in 1998. It was a last minute booking and we were separated, the kids and I got lower berths in one compartment, and Husband had to sleep in another compartment.

I had settled the kids and was almost asleep when I realized a hefty looking man had sat down on my berth near my legs. I asked him to get up, he said he was going to go away in a while, but I insisted he goes right then. He left unwillingly.

He appeared again, took a look at the people sleeping there, and left. I noticed there were the kids and I on the lower berths, and one woman diagonally opposite me, she had her son with her on the same berth. There was no one on the berth above mine. I continued trying to sleep.

I was worried but finally must have dosed off to wake up again to find this fellow spreading a sheet in the space between my berth and my kids berth. If he slept there, I would not have been able to get up without stepping on him! I stood up and told him he couldn’t spread his sheet there. He said his friend had the berth above mine, it was fine, and he was going to sleep there. I said he couldn’t but he continued. I told him I would be getting up many times to check my kids and he couldn’t sleep there. By now I was standing up and arguing very loudly. He reluctantly left again.

I couldn’t sleep because I was worried he might come back. The thought that the man above was his friend also troubled me.

I woke up again to find four pairs of legs on the berth above. Two were dangling, and two were rested on the berth where the woman was sleeping with her son. They were pinching her back with their toes. She squirmed and turned away, and then again turned back.

There was silence except for train noises, everybody else was asleep. This was a terrifying nightmare. They couldn’t see me right below them, I pretended to be asleep. I was hoping she would pick her son and put him between herself and them. She didn’t. She simply pushed herself away from them, but how far could she move?  Her son was asleep behind her anyway, so there wasn’t even that much room. Then she turned her back towards them. One of the feet reached closer and plucked at her kurta with toes. Why doesn’t she make some noise? Everybody was asleep. And these were four tall and strong looking men. I realised that that woman could have been me. Maybe that was why he first tried to sit on my berth, and then tried to sleep right next to my berth. They had noticed there were two women and three children in this compartment. This was bad. They could throw the kids out of the moving train. I decided to pretend to be asleep. And then she made a little uncomfortable noise, one of the toes, I saw, had plucked at her bra strap under her kurta.

Next moment I was standing and yelling. “You think nobody is watching you? I am not asleep, I have been watching your acts all evening, first you tried to sit here then you tried to sleep here!! Is there any space to sleep here? And now four of you sitting there imagining everybody is asleep! You are harassing her, but I have been watching you and I was thinking you will stop on your own but this is simply too much, I had realized you were up to no good when you were walking past here all evening, I suspected you…

I have no idea how this would have ended but Husband in another compartment,  along with perhaps half the train, heard me yelling. Husband asked them their CO’s (Commanding Officer) name and told them (a lie) that he was Colonel so and so. They were army or BSF jawans, they apologized and were sent away to some other compartment.

What made me blog about this now after all these years?

The fact that I was wearing jeans and the woman was wearing a peach salwar kurta with dupatta.

All criminals look for easy target. No matter how hard we try, no matter what we wear, we cannot become invisible, although I am still horrified at my yelling, because they really could have turned violent, they could have been armed or they could have pushed my husband out of the train, but I do realize that the reason why I was spared the harassment was that I was not an easy target. Nobody wants trouble, specially criminals.