First, apologies if you find the title confusing, there was just no one way to put it. Secondly, watch this satirical video uploaded 3 days ago and which went viral. The people behind this video are the AIB group, ‘All India Bakchod’ which as they state is India’s edgiest, funniest comedy collective. Actor Kalki Koechlin and VJ Juhi Pande act it out.
So why am I talking about the fear of rape and eve teasing (molestation in your part of the world probably) on a fashion blog? Because the fear of rape affects my fashion sense and of so many others that I know on a daily basis. It alters it.
You just saw right, how people think that something that women wear can cause rape? And if you were naive enough to think by ‘people’ I mean men… please re-think. This is a screen shot from last night on this very video, where an enlightened woman lets the world know what she thinks (I blurred out the name because I suppose its ethical to do so, argue about it! )
The point that is often missed is – we believe in a perfect world. Well, some of us women and men out here do. A world where it will be your choice – what you like to wear or NOT wear and it will not be taken as “asking for it”. I remember sharing this picture below, some time ago on my SM, and I am sure you must have come across it somewhere or the other. And I happen to be one of those who truly believes in it.
But, if it were according to the woman above or a lot of other people, a woman in a bikini gives a right to be raped to any male in sight? By wearing a bikini do you lose the ownership of your own body? Feel free to explain me that.
Now someone will be saying that you have to see where you are going… which area and dress accordingly. You can’t expect to wear a bikini in a slum and come back unharmed. In the current scenario yes, that is sadly true. Which in turn brings me to my theory, that if we all women sort of formed a conspiracy and got together and wore bikinis everywhere we went, will it result in less glares? Overtime, it might. (or a riot by “cultured men” who think this is against Indian culture, as in our culture women are pretty objects to look at and have sex with, married sex slaves at night if you will and maids to look after everything else in the day.. in exchange for financial security which we are very much capable of earning ourselves though)
But going back to the theory, you might have felt it in your real life as well – a girl in hot pants will not be stared at by 100 men in Khan Market ( a posh Delhi locality) but surely in a slum area of Shadipur. Because the people in the latter one are not used to seeing women liberated and doing what they please. This theory may reduce the stares but will it stop rape? No!
Rape truly is about showing power, feeling power – rape is inhumane and can’t be justified. Rape is about showing women “their real place” Whatever the f**k that is !
But onto the “fear of rape” and how it affects women everyday. Do you always wear what you feel like? The trend said crop tops for summer, but did you happen to sport it casually in your locality? For most women, including me that will be a no. Fashion weeks, party circuits or posh localities, those places are different and somewhat more liberal (though no guarantees). In “real life” it is pretty impossible to don many a trends, you DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. Talk about dressing for your body type, Trinny and Susannah.
Well I mention them because a particular episode in their Indian edition stuck with me.They know what suits a body type but knowing the intricacies of our lifestyle can not be so easy to crack. I remember this from memory, and can hardly check facts as I was unable to find the series online. But they dressed up a social worker in a “modest dress”. It had a regular neckline that showed no cleavage and the hem hit below the knees, which looked good of course. I do not recollect if it made to the final look, but imagine a social worker going to visit an under privileged area where women are forced to do a ‘ghoonghat‘ and stay at home and raise kids. A perfectly beautiful life, reduced to that – a choiceless existence. So will the outfit work? And let’s not forget about how the lady would be travelling to her “work place” as well.
Which brings us to public transport. If I were to commute from North Delhi to a certain South Delhi locality where it will be OK to don some amount of trends, reaching there without harassing stares will be impossible. If I used my own car, no trouble. So you can’t be environmental friendly by saving on petrol and be fashionable at the same time. And, no I am not implying that only short clothes equal fashion, you will be stared at just for being well dressed or rather just because you happen to have a pair of boobs.
But even amongst all this, I can’t forget gratitude. Gratitude for not being forced behind a Burqa under the pretext of religion, or being the lady in ghoongat above. The fact that I can write about it here, can wear the clothes I desire at least sometimes if not all is something I cherish. My parents fear my safety if I am out wearing a short dress, and where there is fear there can’t be freedom. Call me a dreamer but I believe each women should have that freedom – to wear what she likes to, what makes her feel good, without fear.
It is not going to happen overnight. But someday if we put in enough efforts, a future generation might experience this. And, in my opinion, it all boils down to your up bringing and the factors that you have been exposed to. Education does not necessarily make you immune to the “charms” of patriarchy. When we were born, we knew nothing of this, not even a current rapist or a potential one or the people who think you “ask for it”. It is all imbibed and learnt.
So my solution? (not the only solution though) Try to shift the thinking of at least the people close to you. Your parents ( tough nut to crack at times) your siblings, your best friends, your lover or your husband and most importantly your kids. Start at home and then you would know for sure that there is one less potential rapist or molester in the world. I did, so can you. And then hopefully the ripples will move forth and we will have our dream.
That could be far off, but for now I have created a group board on pinterest called “If it were not Rape’s fear, I would wear…” I invite all of you women out there to pin to it and share your CHOICES for the world to know. Who knows, what good will come out of it if our voices are together and uni-vocal. And at least we will know, that we have each other
P.s. Leave your pinterest link in the comments below to get an invite, if you don’t already have one. Each pinner counts!