This article is submitted by Jaidhara Shah (BA.LL.B. Class of 2020)
When the rape and subsequent murder of the 24 year old physiotherapist at Vile Parle was brought to light, the ancient idiotic discussion on the “dressing” of women and the apparent “westernization” of women was discussed relentlessly. Forget the fact that the girl was at her own home, sleeping at 3 am, without any alcohol or substance in her system and the crime was committed by someone breaking into her house and that clothing has NOTHING to do with the atrocious stuff, but yet, the nation wants to know.
Now, this isn’t an article ranting about the narrow mindset of the likes of Mulayam Singh who blame the woman and dismiss the acts as just “boys being boys”, this is about the resounding need to change the Mindset. The Mindset has become a personality of its own with everyone advocating for the same, but how exactly we to do so is hardly thought of. All this discussion got me thinking that since when has clothing and dressing assumed such an importance?
While it is socially acceptable to wear boxers in the privacy of your house and trousers to Court, when do these distinctions really creep into the system? What better a place to have a free environment than an educational institution since it is supports to educate us, to mold us into better persons and more responsible versions of ourselves?
The problem with dress codes, aside from the fact of convenience is that by reprimanding me from wearing shorts, it becomes okay for someone to judge person X for wearing shorts otherwise. Why shouldn’t it be okay to judge? If it is too provocative to wear to class and is likely to distract members of the either sex from focusing on academics, I have the inherent right to judge. This very judgment makes it acceptable for eve-teasing which leads to molestation and the chain of heinousness continues.
Secondly, by mandating attire, there is further an emphasis on clothing when the intent of dress codes is argued to not have any focus on clothing. If I am wearing track pants and coming to college, why call me out or punish me by not giving attendance or fining me for something I do not think is inappropriate.
Ahh, appropriate brings me to the third point primarily raised, “So tomorrow, it will be okay to wear a bikini to college, so will you allow that too?” I understand students have an image of being stupid, and rightly so, but our common sensibilities do prevail, of what we should wear and the city and surrounding I am in.
The final argument I encountered is of safety. But, when does this argument or cloak end? What is the limit set for the same? Ripped jeans are banned in some colleges, jeans aren’t allowed in certain medical and other colleges, so when does this end?
Rather, by removing dress codes, and uniforms, there is no importance attached to clothing, and the true importance of learning, of free thinking and of a progressive and a conducive environment can be achieved. We are a nation of prohibition and restriction. Let’s try being one of freedom and it starts from none other than educational institutions, the pioneers of changing us to our best.