September 01, 2016

India - No dresspassing: Skimpy skirts and baggy shorts both must toe the hemline (Bachi Karkaria)

The Times of India

No dresspassing: Skimpy skirts and baggy shorts both must toe the hemline 😜
September 1, 2016, 2:00 am IST Bachi Karkaria in Erratica | Edit Page, Humour | TOI

Foreign women and dyed-in-the-saffron RSS men have been told to lower their hemlines. By different authorities, but both to fit Hindutva agendas. In the first, our irrepressible mantri doesn’t want female tourists to minister to the repressed Indian male. Mahesh Sharma seemingly served his twin portfolios of tourism and culture by telling tourists that it was for their own safety and against our culture. In which case, should we assume that men jumping on anyone in a skirt is also part of our proud, 5,000-year-old sanskriti? But they won’t go panting after women in trousers?

Solicitous Sharma-ji has also advised the videsi girl not to go out late, not to travel alone, not to be friendly, etc which could well make her decide not to come at all. So actually, his KRAs for culture could cancel out those for tourism, since what is good for the latter is inimical to the former.

Shortly after Mahesh-ji skirt advisory, a deadline was fixed for the lowering of the RSS hemline as well. Swayamsevaks will switch from their trademark ‘half-pant’ to dark-khaki trousers on Dussehra day. Whether this will be the triumph of aesthetics over the ugly sight of baggy shorts on baggier men, we cannot say. The full uniform of trousers, white shirt, black cap, canvas belt and socks will cost Rs 1,000. Presumably, the saffron chaddis come free.

As the bikini-burkini debate elsewhere shows, fashion and culture aren’t a perfect fit. Female ‘indecent exposure’ could trigger a male ditto, or worse. Women should logically be able to argue that this is the man’s problem, but, in practice, it is only theirs. Even if this says more about boorishness than bare-ishness, the belief persists that raising your hemline equals lowering your defences.

Still, since everyone accepts that we should be dressed for the occasion, or for the venue, we should be able to extend the secular to the sacred, no? No. For, who will draw the hemline? ‘Offence’ is a moveable fence, whether in the freedom of expression or that of dresspression. Someone or other will cut skirts on the bias, and a controversy will flare.

The RSS has to worry only about another kind of cover-up.

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Alec Smart said: “What did the egg sing to the surrogate womb? ‘New bill hai mushkil, jeena yahaan’.”