Dress Code

Dress Code

“A set of rules specifying exactitudes of etiquette on an Indian female student, such that the fellow male students are feeling satisfactorily unprovoked”.

This; is the very old unwritten rule of the education system in engineering colleges of Chennai. Colleges like Sa****ma have been pioneers in this regard who are even rumored to have spies watching their students to live upto these ‘standards’ even outside the college premises. I wonder if the education system needs to spend so much time over penalizing the girls, just because it doesn’t trust the men!?

I had read one of those articles a few months back, which make you feel so cheesy for having read it. This one talked about the need for lesser co-educational institutions in India reasons being – “pretty faces distract the youth, women are responsible for instilling men with dirty thoughts, it hampers the growth of young men who are the future generations”. Firstly the one who wrote this doesn’t seem to understand what education is. Secondly his lame reasons might be the outcome of his experiences as a student. Thirdly you can’t miss the tinge of uncalled for male chauvinism in between the lines.

End of the last paragraph I had this cartoon in mind with a girl strangling the guy with her ‘dupatta’, the intimidating picture the author gave about female students. At the same time the thought crossed my mind, if dupatta was all that was needed to cleanse the minds of Indian men, why wasn’t that happening?? I think of another cartoon with a girl wiping the dirt off the guy’s mind with her ‘dupatta’ and a heap of already used dupattas lying on the floor.

I still recall the day in my first year of college when the girls were asked to assemble in a separate classroom and lectured on how our outfits could “provoke” the guys in the class. What followed were the rules as stringent as length of the dupatta and the kurta which are “unprovoked-able”. It was ended with the threat of a hundred rupee fine if any girl was seen wearing jeans or violating the aforementioned rules. College life had seemed bleak and ugly all of a sudden. Was it all about saving your virginity from a bunch of incorrigible hooligans on campus??

Don’t get me wrong here. My idea is not to preach the necessity of giving women the right to wear anything they want in college. I understand and respect the needs of institutions to have dress codes. But enforcing standards to prevent certain men from howling, hooting or getting deviated or getting distracted doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. Those pervert minds cannot be changed with a circus tent like kurta and shawl like dupatta supposedly protecting your femininity!

It is every woman’s responsibility to not let her be a prey to the vulgarity of certain men; be it in the form of eve-teasing or actions of luring to be used. But it leaves me to wonder, if education can’t produce civilized citizens, then what can? I clearly remember the article in India today magazine, where the police commissioner of Delhi concluded that,” the average Indian male’s mentality has not grown with the rise of independence among women, which is the reason for the increased atrocities against women”. The statement was backed by a picture of two women wearing party clothes. It left me guessing the time it is going to take for the “average Indian male mentality” to outgrow the perverse shell and the time for women to put their safety ahead of glamorous independence. As long as this doesn’t reach a perfect balance, men will continue to target women and a thousand odd to-be-female-engineers in colleges of Chennai will continue to be punished for not following the un-provokable dress-code!!


8 thoughts on “Dress Code

  1. Naveen says:

    So many things are arbit in life; religion, (non)vegetarianism, career. Social order falls among those. The only judging criteria is, ‘does it work?’ If the society has formed an enmeshed ecosystem of which this construct is one of the pillar, it’s going to be really difficult to affect it. One by one, painfully, hopefully, the supporting infrastructure will fall apart. That’s all that can be done. It’s going to take time.Unless … Can there be an Unless?

  2. Divya Das says:

    Naveen: Of course the balance I talk about is going to take time. The question you ask “does it work?” is highly debatable and nothing can be said until the infrastructure surrenders eventually….!!

  3. Jayesh S says:

    good post….yeah…its all too comical. As a guy, I can tell you that guys ‘automatically’ look at any girl, regardless of how she’s dressed…as for protecting ‘the feminity’…burqas are the best, are’nt they ? Why not that then?

  4. Divya Das says:

    Jayesh, Burqas are “supposedly” worn for personal safety and a whole lot of religious and political reasons! According to me they still dont guarantee a woman her safety. I may sound a little amusing here for you, but as long as she can defend herself and know how to save her skin, she can pull off any clothes! Dont u think??

  5. Rain says:

    Hi…i chanced upon ur blog…and i really understand wat ur saying. i have also studied in an Eng. College in Chennai, and the narrow- mindedness and sheer childishness of alot of the rules amazes me. People forget about the root causes and try to go about treating the sypmtoms. Well…do visit my blog…as i’ll be peeking into urs occasionaly..:)

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