Daily morning as I took breakfast in the canteen of my medical college, the TV kept singing in loud volume and everyone eating there had to start their morning daily with a good dose of item numbers. One of my relative’s one year old daughter liked the tune of ‘Sheila ki javani’ so much that it became her lori song hearing which she goes to sleep. In a particular psychiatry ward I observed that patients had nothing to do the whole day and spent most of their time in watching songs focused on skimpily clad women. I see around me that the difference between some clothes women wear now-a-days in public and brassier is not in size, but only in the colour and texture of material. Explaining the rationale behind new fashion trends one of my friends told me, “What is the use of having a good figure if people don’t come to know about it?” I wonder what would be the consequences of people receiving such an increased frequency of sexual stimuli everyday??
But before going ahead with what I think are the consequences, I would like to clarify that I do not think that rapes are mainly because of seductive dressing. Civilised people who get distracted by seductive stimuli, will not commit any crime on any woman even after being aroused. And males with bad taste will attack even a fully clothed woman. My reasons for objecting to men/ women dressing seductively in general public/ item numbers are different, as stated below:
- A very ‘potent’ distraction! Receiving seductive stimuli multiple times a day is bound to lead to repeated sexual arousals. Now I am definitely not claiming that everyone receiving these stimuli will end up committing rapes. What I am asking is what is your guess – what are the possible consequences of these repeated sexual arousals in people’s minds? I will leave the answer to your imagination and common sense…But what all of us will agree is that it distracts people from the work they are trying to focus on. So when one member in a group of trainees has worn a figure revealing dress, the mental space of some of the trainees becomes too preoccupied for any new lesson to seep in! In this regard, one experience of my library days is worth sharing… I used to go to a 24 hrs library and entrance fever was as its peak. My preparation was not upto the mark and so I was asking everyone for smart studying strategies.. There was a particular guy who would come at 10 pm and leave at 8am. Naturally I got curious about the possible advantages of this odd study hours. He explained hesitatingly “I tried many days to study during daytime. But with the kind of clothes girls in our library wear, I was simply not able to focus on studies. In night there is no distraction and I am able to enjoy excellent concentration”. I found his reply hilarious as well as saddening at the same time… Was he doomed to a nocturnal life because he had a very cheap mind or was everyone getting distracted to some extent – more or less? I cant speak for others, but I definitely get distracted from my work when some woman around me has worn figure revealing clothes. May be I also have a very cheap mind…
- Sexuality predominates the social mindspace: When cricket fever is high people exclaim Indians ‘Eat cricket, drink cricket & breathe cricket’ – unofficially India is closed down; people skip work. It is only natural that what keeps on getting hammered repeatedly in the mind, the mind remains pre-occupied with that. If youth keep receiving a heavy dose of seductive stimuli repeatedly, will sexuality not be the main subject of their discussions and contemplation? Do you regard this to be healthy? After a poetry competition in my MBBS college, one of the judge remarked, “The only subject of everyone’s poetry was romance. Is there no other subject which captivates the imagination/ passion of today’s youth?” I had been to a youth workshop. For 3 days my mind was so engrossed in reflecting over various issues of social relevance… It was an enriching experience indeed. Then on 4th day we went to the market to buy something and I saw hoardings of various brands marketing their products with pictures of seductively dressed women. I was in the company of the same people as previous days; but sexual thoughts predominated my mind for the next few hours. Nothing is wrong with sexuality. But should we have a choice of when and how much? Or should the cultural trends in a society be such that people are prompted to think about it most of the time? In many of the whatsapp groups I observe, cheap sexual jokes is the main content getting exchanged… Are we incapable of discussing more meaningful things? Worse still, item numbers & cheap jokes create such a negative perspective towards sexuality in mind. The wonderful gift of sexuality gets transformed into a ‘gandii baat’… After spending 15 minutes watching cheap songs and after spending 15 minutes watching a documentary on a constructive project – do you also find that there is a vast difference in the quality of thoughts and behaviours you engage in for the next few hours? Garbage in; garbage out! Someone defined the purpose of vulgarity in films aptly ‘To use the female body to arouse sexual emotions in men and to encash on that’. Makers of films and TV channels like to include more of seductive content because that earns them more…an item number is squeezed into a film like munna bhai MBBS also. Their motive is profit and so they will do it. But are we fools to let them decide what should rule our mental space? Should we not be choosing more consciously the seeds that get sown in the wonderful garden of our mind?
- The very ideal of feminism gets defeated! In a particular item number the heroine walks on the ramp and surrounding males dance with enthusiasm staring at her expectantly with tongues rolling out of their mouths and salivating… In another item number the model pours liquor on her feet and men standing below drink the ‘extra charged’ liquor. As we give social acceptance to such item numbers, are we not promoting an attitude of looking towards women predominantly as ‘objects of sense gratification’? Do modern day feminists want to cultivate this kind of attitude towards women? Social activist Sunita Krishnan has rescued and rehabilitated over 10,100 girls from sexual slavery. She also conducts awareness programmes amongst boys/ men to give up the demand for prostitutes; so that more girls don’t get forced into this flesh trade. She has received wide appreciation for her work, was interviewed on Satyamev Jayate and has recently been nominated for an international award. She is an ardent feminist too. It is interesting to note that in 1995, she was one amongst those rare breed of activists who protested against the staging of the miss world competition in Bangalore. There are many feminists like her who believe that pornography, seductive videos, etc. contribute towards degradation & objectification of women’s body and reinforce sexual & cultural attitudes that are complicit in rape and sexual harassment. Just because one or 2 rounds of questions & answers are put, does it change the fact that these beauty competitions are essentially about who looks sexier? The implications of this ongoing commodification of the female body are in favour of feminism or against it? Your idea of feminism is about having equal rights & respect for women or about women having the freedom to do whatever they wish to do, unmindful of its consequences???
- It is degrading our tastes! Such open acceptance of pornography in films is leading our film industry into a very unhealthy direction. Consider this – Sunita Krishnan has recently made a film on sex trafficking, named ‘Naa bangaaru Talli’, to prevent ignorant poor women from falling in the trap. While making she made sure that it would be a family film which people can watch with their children also. The film won seven international awards and three national awards, and everybody who has seen the film says “I thought this will be an award film, but this is super family thriller” But still she is not getting any distributors for the film. She writes on her blog what the distributors have to say,
‘All of them unanimously felt (I am telling you this after showing it to more than 30 big and small distributors) it was a great family-thriller, the background score was brilliant, the songs were great, the story mind-blowing, and the performance powerful…etc…etc So where is the movie falling short? No star cast, no item number, no sex…no violence…all in all no masala. Infact one small time distributor told me “you had so much scope for adding so many things in your film…atleast you could have shown some sex ( the film is a true story of sex trafficking)…or atleast one item number in the form of a bar dance!!!”’
Because we are not raising any sort of objection to this vulgarity, it is becoming an integral part of everything in our culture. Films are including a good dose of it, cheap songs are being played during festivals, aspiring actresses have to be ok with seductive scenes, most things are getting marketed using the attracting power of a female body, etc.. What is disturbing to me is that rather than criticising rising amount of pornography in films, we are applauding women doing item numbers as great achievers! Porn stars are being projected as great celebrities…item numbers are favourite songs played during parties & family get togethers… Our idea of entertainment is becoming so cheap! By doing this, are we not legitimising the unrestricted expression of the male libido? Recently a journalist posted a cheap comment on a revealing pic of Deepika Padukone. There was an uproar from society that such comments lead to objectification of female body and are condemnable. Wow! I fully support the uproar. But I have a question. If the tweet posted by the journalist leads to ‘objectification of female body’; doesn’t the revealing dressing style of present day actresses/ models/ item number stars/ porn starts/ etc. in ‘reel’ as well as ‘real’ life, lead to the same thing in a much bigger way? Shouldn’t we be objecting to both rather than only the 1st one? Why is the 2nd one so acceptable to us? Are we sure we are giving the right kind of role models to the next generation?
With any kind of moral preaching being condemned as bad, people who wish to make a quick buck out of pornography are becoming shameless, bold & proud about their act. There is a new phrase coined to justify their use of vulgarity – “getting comfortable with one’s body”. I have heard people doing malpractices in their profession give silly excuses to decrease their guilt and make it sound justified; eg “paapi pet ke liye karna padta hai”, “Dhande me sab chalta hai”, etc. This excuse is also no different. In psychological terms dressing in a seductive way is a trait of borderline personality disorder – people who are not sure of themselves & their beliefs. People who are “comfortable with themselves” don’t have the need to keep attracting attention! Some people claim that they wear short clothes because they feel more comfortable in it… If one wants to wear less clothes and attract the opposite gender; do it. But atleast don’t give silly excuses! Consider this experience I recently had – I had enrolled for a particular training. The instructor had sent a sms that AC will be on; so to come with adequate clothing. Still 1 girl came skimpily clad. She was shivering and so 1 guy gave his jacket to her. Instructor re-emphasised the need to come dressed adequately because of the AC. Inspite of this, next day 2 girls came skimpily clad and kept shivering during the class 🙂 One of my female friends gave me a feedback that she used to be very conscious of self & inhibited because of the various restrictions put on clothing in her small town. Then when she came to Pune and started dressing without having to bother much how she was looking, she experienced a new breath of freedom. So i just wanted to clarify that i am not pressing for any particular type of clothing and nor do i feel that clothes ought to obliterate all the body curves completely. Our face and body shape is an integral part of our personality and there is absolutely no harm if someone has a look at it. I would hate if girls feel uncomfortable about their figure. My objection is only to the style of clothing which is too revealing or wherein the main objective is to draw attention towards the curves.
We are embracing seductiveness with open arms into our culture! With seductive dressing receiving widespread appreciation & respect in media, I see people around me choosing that as their routine way of dressing in real life too! For reasons mentioned above, I regard this trend to be harmful for our society. I personally loved to wear tight clothes because my physique was very good while I was in my XII & MBBS (now of course you would not believe that looking at me 🙂 ). Then one day I heard about the argument that in a cultured society, clothes are meant to cover the body and not to show it; so that people around don’t get aroused or distracted unnecessarily. That appealed to me and from that day I gave up wearing tight clothes unnecessarily. What is your opinion? If we can avoid distracting others just by some thoughtful clothing; is it not worth the deal? Is that too much of a discomfort? Other than in our bedroom or when we are looking out for a partner,by wearing figure revealing clothes are we really gaining anything? Do you want to project your sexuality as the most predominant aspect to your personality? Or do you wish to be identified in the society around for something else? Our dressing decides to a great extent how people perceive us. I appeal to you to choose your dressing style more consciously.
I request you to reconsider your opinion? Should we continue with pride our culture of dignified clothing wherein women avoided arousing sexual emotions un-necessarily; wherein other elements to her personality are given more attention to by her and by people around? Or should we enthusiastically march towards a culture wherein the aim of dressing is to project to people the wonderful figure one has? A culture wherein each item from a mango juice to cement to a feature film is sold using the marketing potential of a beautiful seductress… and these seductresses become the most popular and get regarded to be some of the most successful members of society; a culture wherein young girls dream of being able to do 5 item numbers in life…
Which type of social dressing will promote in our culture the ideal of feminism that you hold on to so dearly in your heart? Please give it a second thought…