When whole country is busy watching scams, scandals, separatist demands and political parties slamming each other. Small events and incidents go unnoticed. In my last piece I had mentioned how my dear state is being raped and molested at hands of various ideologies. The reason behind separate state demand is driven by the fear of failing to preserve culture. Right now my thoughts are on other aspects of preserving so called culture.
A week before a College in Jorhat banned girls from wearing leggings as part of their uniform. The most common reason, the dress appears improper for a formal institution. This ban resulted in the girls protesting outside college and many were not allowed to attend classes. Similar ban was put in various colleges in Guwahati. Similar reactions were shown by the girls.
All over Assam we have compulsory uniform system in almost all the colleges. A color code is given and both male and females are to wear uniform in this color code. In my limited knowledge about fabrics and clothes, Leggings is very similar to yoga pants, only it’s heavier in fabric. This article of clothing shows every shape and size of the legs which is often awkward to the conservative eyes and during rainy days it may show skin when one is drenched. I being a girl am not a fan of leggings. But again from my girl point of view I am against the idea of banning leggings. The girls protesting the ban have their own reasons. Mainly leggings are comfortable and ideal for rough use; it’s easier to move in them. In case of emergency one can run faster without tripping which is hard in case of salwar. It’s helpful in many other girly ways from being in wash room to the safety of never ting it around waist. If we have to choose a dress for daily convince every girl would pick leggings.
Had the ban been based on just the idea of honoring uniform, I would have settled for it. When I hear the twisted and orthodox ideals backing the ban, it drives me crazy. The history behind Uniform system was to make everyone equal in front of the educational institution despite the economic, social backgrounds of the students. A very noble thought had created this system. Alas at times like now I find it as a symbol of oppression. I always had respect for uniforms they are a source of pride and belongingness. All this pure thoughts fly away when one finds the spirit of uniform is broken.
One of the authorities speaking on television had said it was to preserve the culture and honor of woman. My question stands why we have to define culture by putting it on the shoulders of women. I always hear that our culture is being shattered by western dressing and ideas. So we levy the burden the culture on the women of society. Still in many schools we have young girls wearing saree as uniform. No doubt Saree, Salwar, Mekhela, Dokhona etc stands as a symbol of cultural heritage and tradition. But why don’t we have the same traditional dresses for the male of society. Why are our boys not wearing Dhoti, kurta,Gamsa respectively in our institutions but shirts and trousers?
The ban was put to keep the girls safe so, what are we trying indicate. We are indirectly blaming woman of provocation of immoral thoughts in others mind. A girl has to be careful; a girl has to be the one in charge of both her honor and the minds watching her. Banning of leggings has not only raised the question of honor, respect of a female, but what we are teaching. It also shows how we see a female in society; she is still defined by the clothes which are to represent her culture, tradition and ideals. Isn’t our educational institute discriminating the women? I may sound biased in my thoughts at present. Our tendency to hold culture and make woman carry her culture and pass it on others has delved deep into our hearts. Now this fear has grounded in our education system. Last year few Islamic colleges made head cover compulsory for woman. Another educational institution put a ban on jeans. All this was done in name of culture; is our culture is so shallow that we have to look below a girl’s waist to feel terrorized. This attitude shows our society has no self control hence instead of reforming the outlook we would rather cover the person in front of us. I do not support skin show in educational institutions. But banning something, which is need of the time and is convenient for all, is oppression in its grassroot level. Why should one look at others dress in first place? I am not asking to let us walk naked around, but let us be in what we are comfortable and feel safe in.
This news was shown for hardly for two days and made appearance in newspapers for some time. The way I look at this ban may be is derived from my strong feminist bent. It just becomes hard to gulp down when I watch a boy walk me by in jeans, just the college shirt and he is not warned. It hurts more when girls become the easy target to be made example of. Our college’s new security guard stands as the perfect example of this attitude. Girls who sometimes come in civil dress are held back from entering time to time. He finds it hard to let improperly dressed girls enter college premises; whereas boys in half uniforms are not stopped. Isn’t it the perfect example?
I am against this form of chauvinism; chauvinism may be a too harsh word to describe this home grown habit. People find it natural to point out where a girl falters and easier to captivate her thoughts, ideas and movements. I have no remedy to suggest but hope that educational institutions stop being so medieval and orthodox in their approach. If it’s all about morality and honor of student, then why don’t we teach our morality mind to respect woman the way she is. Sometimes I feel it’s true a woman is not born but made.
The banning of leggings for me is like a slap to my choice of life. The incident may not be significant, but when the whole country has seen brutal rapes, molestations, chauvinistic attacks on woman. This small incident of banning; still it is enough to show how far our patriarchal thoughts run in. Educational institution must be strict, but they should be considerate and far sighted at the consequence of their decisions. Like the new security guard, every other human will start to hold back woman from developing if bans are put on everything in which she feels liberated. I have my full support to fellow girls who are still protesting against the ban. Culture should never be a reason to oppress; no culture can progress if it falls in limbo and fails to progress with time.
P.S- I hate our new security guard.
Thanking you to bear with me