Society & Lifestyle
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|by Ganganand Jha|
Uproar was raised when the chairperson of National Women commission Shreemati Malati Sharma remarked that women should dress properly. She was speaking in the aftermath of the shameful Guahati molestation incident.
What is a proper dress?
I recollect a remark of Pt. Motilal Nehru on the dress sense of Babu Rajendra Prasad. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was junior collegue of Pt. Motilal Nehru in the famous Indigo farmers’ case in Champaran. Pt Motilal Nehru was impeccable with regard to his dress, whereas Rajendra Babu was casual about it. Once Nehru looked disdainfully towards him and asked. “Why do you wear clothes?” Rajendra Prasad was a man of humble disposition. He was taken aback, he meekly replied, “as a cloak!” Motilal retorted, “Can you not wear it properly?”
Englishman express surprise at the way Indians dress. They consider it bizarre that females have their legs covered and the males’ legs are exposed. A traditional Indian feels aghast at this approach. According to his perspective exposed female legs are sexually provocative and obscene.
Concept of proper dress has evolved along with the evolution of society over a long period. In primitive societies dress was used as a cloak and a protective cover against adversities of surroundings. Phase of elaboration was followed by the phase of reduction of clothes as a result of specialization. Dress evolved as a statement of aesthetic values with the gradual transformation of agricultural societies to industrial ones. It serves as a means to define feminine grace and bring out the beauty of female form. Female body is viewed from two perspectives. One, It provokes men sexually. So it needs to be covered. That would make it graceful. Second, it is the most beautiful divine creation. Hence it should be exposed to bring out the divine bounty. The first perspective rejects the later and dubs it obscene.
Feminists have their own take. They hold that women are entirely free to determine how they would dress. After all it is their body. Men claiming to be provoked sexually at the sight of exposed female body are simply barbarous and untenable in a civilized society. Apparently they do not subscribe to the wisdom Aap rup bhojan, par rup singaar (Eat according to your taste, Dress according to others' taste.)
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