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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 25, New Delhi, June 5, 2021

How Short A ’Short’ Is Too Short? - Exploring The Inherent Upbringing Bias | Sparsh Sharma

Friday 4 June 2021

by Sparsh Sharma*

In March 2021, a person as high as holding an office of a CM of an Indian state said that wearing ripped jeans by a woman was “outrageous and shocking” [1]. The remark instigated sections of junta with #rippedjeanstwitter [2] trending on social media in response to it. Supporters say, what’s wrong to teach the culture and Indianness (ripped jeans as a threat to cultural hegemony)?

This view has many flaws in itself. Indianness comes from values. Values come from one’s internal realisation, respect and pride for one’s glorious culture. Just because a woman wears ripped jeans does not mean she lacks Indianness much like a saint with a dhoti and tilak does not mean he is an abode of eternal epitome to attain moksha (some famous ones have even been convicted [3]). This exposes the use of religious/cultural justification as hypocrisy on part of the supporters. For the sake of argument, even if taken on face that ripped jeans perhaps act against the value system, can it be justified by reason?- “Nothing can be accepted as the word of God which cannot be tested by reason...” (MK Gandhi in his dialogue with Dr. BR Ambedkar).[4]

The phenomenon is not new in a society where instances of subjugation, patriarchy and gender stereotyping are commonplace. Society seems fond of mathematics- from length of the frock to depth of the cleavage to height of the heel, it all matters to be too ‘bore’ or a ‘whore’!

The problem is deep-rooted as inherent causes like conditioning or discriminating and mending of the psyche of a child over time specifically in Indian context are crucial for such behaviour. Exploring these vistas- because you reap what you sow!

Stereotyping

Men are associated with bravery, sturdiness and macho whereas crying, shyness and weakness are ’essentials’ of a girl. This negative connotation of such gender stereotyping is pernicious as it is used to explain the jobs they get into (men are considered the bread earners, women are managers for the household chores).

This role-allocation thus stems from the default customary framework called “conditioning” which enjoins control over mind and body of a woman (the ‘aatmik shuddhikaran’- if one may call it). Dolls, barbies, makeup kits are to girls like toys and guns, cars, big ready bears are to boys. It doesn’t stop here, but even the colours like pink and blue are slowly infused so that the default option given becomes the choice. So the next time a parent brings home a pink barbie it provokes an emotional response- "joy" for the girl, "hope" (or anger) for the boy who may wait till his toy is delivered lest he smithers apart the girl’s toy (though this proposition is rare that a boy is seconded).

A respectful discrimination

A child further sees 2 things in the childhood- First, the women of the family customarily eat the dinner only after serving the male member. Second, it’s ’impure’ for a woman to enter the kitchen or perform puja. “Customary belittling” then passes on from one generation to another.

Both have flaws- Eating late is respect for the male members at the cost of undervaluing female members. Menstruation is an age-old practice and disrespect women albeit in a respectable manner as every man ought to be impure as he comes from the very same place & “There is a man in the word woman but there is no man without a woman”
(acknowledged by the highest court of the country in the sabarimala case [5])

Legitimate Questions

Such an environment questions the essence of “Guardianship" (one who aids to show the path the child wishes to take). What-if the "aiding" does becomes "dictating" ? Does guardianship then not become one ‘man’ ship? Can a child then grow and blossom on its own, then?

In March of 2020, #kudinunachnede [6] was the most trending song on any social media platform from the movie Angrezi Medium. It soon became the anthem signifying the “freedom” a woman yearns for which is unjustly denied. The “kudi vibe” conveyed a powerful message- Just let her fly! [7] What thus emerges is- "Change must not be done, but seem to have been done", i.e, from within, to overcome this social milieu so that women are actually empowered.

(Author: Sparsh Sharma, Sparsh Sharma is a Law student at Rajiv Gandhi School of IP Law at IIT Kharagpur who dabbles in all areas that relate to law and policy)

Endnotes

[1] ThePrint. “‘Shocked to See an NGO Woman Wearing Ripped Jeans,’ Says Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat.” YouTube, 17 Mar. 2021, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ru93HCjh7EQ.
[2] “#RippedJeansTwitter op Twitter.” Twitter, 2021, twitter.com/hashtag/RippedJeansTwitter?src=hashtag_click.
[3] Mukherjee, Deep. “Asaram Convicted for Raping Minor, Sentenced to Imprisonment till Death.” The Indian Express, 28 Jan. 2019, indianexpress.com/article/india/asaram-bapu-convicted-for-raping-minor-sentenced-to-imprisonment-till-death-5151268/#:%7E:text=Self%2Dstyled%20godman%20Asaram%20Bapu,his%20ashrams%20five%20years%20ago.
[4] “Appendix I [A Vindication Of Caste By Mahatma Gandhi].” Columbia University Website, 2021, ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/mmt/ambedkar/web/appendix_1.html.
[5] Harikrishnan, Charmy. “Sabarimala Verdict: SC Strikes at the Roots of Prejudice against Menstruation.” The Economic Times, 29 Sept. 2018, economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/sabarimala-verdict-sc-strikes-at-the-roots-of-prejudice-against-menstruation/articleshow/66009718.cms?from=mdr.
[6] “#kudinunachnede - Twitter-zoekfunctie.” Twitter, 2021, twitter.com/search?q=%23kudinunachnede&src=typed_query.
[7] MediaInfoline. “Angrezi Medium’s Kudi Nu Nachne de Has The Kudi Tribe.” Media Infoline, 9 Mar. 2020, www.mediainfoline.com/music/angrezi-mediums-kudi-nu-nachne-de-has-the-kudi-tribe.

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