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Recently the Tamil Nadu government mandated staff to stick to wearing sarees, or salwar kameez with dupatta at work, to ‘maintain the decorum’.
“Dupatta pehan ke jao, stole pehan ke jao”, (wear a dupatta or a stole); “look decent and cover yourself.”
Being the girls of ‘Indian culture’ all of us have heard these tips and comments about the magical powers of a dupatta. We are often told to wear a dupatta while going out or else – accept that men will look at your breasts.
This mentality of a dupatta being the guardian of modesty was clearly seen in the recent order issued by the Tamil Nadu statement government. The order released reads:
“Government servants are required to wear neat, clean, formal attire that is appropriate to the workplace setting, so as to maintain the decorum of the office, while on duty, like saree or salwar kameez or churidar with dupatta in the case of female government servants and shirts with formal pants or veshti (dhoti) reflecting Tamil culture or any Indian traditional dress, in the case of male government servants. Casual attire shall be avoided.”
What’s notable here? That salwar kameez is not considered a complete attire without a dupatta because obviously, women need to cover their breasts with a long piece of cloth for the sake of modesty and culture.
When this order was initially released on 28th May 2019 it specified clothes of ‘sober colour’ only for women and formal attire for men. Because obviously, Indian Culture’s dignity lies only in the hands of women.
It said that women needed to wear neat, clean, formal attire like saree or salwar kameez or a churidar with a dupatta of ‘sober colour’, while men should follow the dress code of shirts with formal pants.
On top of this the justification given by Peter Anthonysamy, Head of the Tamil Nadu Secretariat Association, in an interview to ThePrint is a vivid representation of misogyny:
“We have seen that many employees are wearing clothes that do not suit a government office. Women are seen wearing leggings and short kurtas, or tops without dupattas, which is not acceptable,” he said
This order has raised the question of why are men are so afraid of women’s breasts. This is not the first time women have been asked to dress properly so that they don’t look ‘provocative’ to men.
After all what magical wonders can a Dupatta do? Can it act as an anti rape protection shield ? Can it change the mentality of a person? No, it can’t. Then why does a society connects a Dupatta with respect and modesty?
It’s high time now that men come to terms with the fact that a woman’s breasts are just another body part and it doesn’t need an extra piece of clothing to hide it, we’re already wearing a kameez/shirt, thank you.
What needs to change is the mentality of people who stare with lecherous eyes at women’s breasts, not the clothes of a woman. This is something that society needs to digest now.
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