By Kiran Manral | posted Aug 21st 2015 at 1:56PM
Kiran was a journalist before she quit to be a full time mommy. Her blog is considered amongst India’s top blogs. She is the author of The Reluctant Detective (2012), Once Upon A Crush (2014) and All Aboard (2015). An advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi she is also an Author Mentor at Sheroes.in. She now blogs at http://www.kiranmanral.wordpress.com and you can follow her on twitter @kiranmanral.
A prominent college festival in Mumbai has banned girl students from wearing shorts. This is in addition to the numerous bans we are already grappling with, which seem to increase day after day, and which one must now make out an excel sheet of in order to remember what is banned currently in the event that one might forget and not comply with the ban, and end up being hauled up to the clinker.
The ban on girls wearing shorts though is not a clinker level ban, but merely a diktat from the educational institution the girls are at. The boys at the educational institution, lucky sods, have no such restrictions and can continue to flaunt their hairy legs much to the dismay of hapless onlookers, in all their unwaxed glory, and single-handedly cause a spurt in the sales of eye drops.
I find this grossly unfair for the simple reason that if shorts were to be banned as an item of clothing, the ban needed to be extended equivocally to both sexes. That’s all I say. What sense does it make to ban shorts for the girls, and allow the boys to roam unfettered, baring their legs, inciting lust and longing amongst the hapless onlookers, who then would not be able to contain themselves, and lead to a security issue, as the wise authorities have decreed?
I have an issue with shorts and that is primarily because I have legs of the version that aren’t flattered by the garment in question. You know. I have been caught on rare occasions in public wearing shorts, and most of these have been on vacation. Banning them, for me myself, would be a good move, because then I wouldn’t dare inflict my chicken legs on an unwary world and have them wince at the offence to public sensibilities I presented. But that is me. I do not dare speak for the world or those who love the item of clothing in question. Shorts have a lot to recommend them. For one, given the humidity of the climate we live in, they allow for adequate air circulation, and keep the body cool. For another, what better garment during the dratted monsoon in our city where a drenched pair of denims right down to the ankle can cause skin to rot till it turns green and falling off the bone until one manages to reach home and change into a dry pair, not to forget the ensuing fever and chills and work days lost in the process because one was drenched to the bone and stayed wet all day.
In Sweden, a couple of years ago, they did ban shorts during work hours for train conductors. While shorts were not termed a security risk in this case, the issue was the question of propriety and dress code and ban extended equally to male and female conductors. What the Swedes did in response to that ban was what I call inspired. They took to wearing skirts. Male and female. And the train company with amazing maturity, made no nose snorting disapproving noises of the skirts not being gender appropriate when worn by men. Their rules stated skirts or long trousers as a uniform. And as long as the rules were being adhered to, they were absolutely fine with it.
In Israel, school girls who were asked to stop wearing shorts when their male co-students were allowed to wear them, didn’t take this gender discrimination lying down. They took their protest online with a hashtag #ItsMyRight. Girls in Fiji had things worse, with a British colonial law allowing them to be flogged in public for wearing shorts, a law that was only just recently revoked.
Why is this ban on shorts only for girls by an educational institution something we should all be worried about? Two reasons. The first, and the most obvious one is that it officially gender discriminates between students and does so at an educational institution, which should be telling girls that they are on par with the boys. The second is that this ban takes the debate right back to the perennial problem we women face, that of victim-shaming, and the ‘she was asking for it’ and all such that rightfully deserves to be euthanised and interred forever.
Instead, what we need to tell our girls is that no one has the right to touch them without their consent, no matter what they might be wearing. And more importantly, we need to teach our boys that a girl wearing a pair of shorts is not asking for it. Never is. And they would do well to keep their hands to themselves.
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