Dress Code Blues
Reading this made me think about the effectiveness of imposing a dress code by an educational institution, particularly on female students. More importantly, is it right for an educational institution to impose such restrictions, which smack of sexism? The arguments most often given to support such a stand are about how ‘proper’ dressing prevents sexual harassment of women and leads to less distraction of their male counterparts. But this, once again, is looking at things from a typically paternalistic viewpoint.
To argue that a woman who dresses in modern clothes will serve as a distraction or make her more prone to sexual attacks is forgetting one important point here. It is the male who is essentially a problem here. The Indian male, for the most part is still caught in a time-warp where a woman dressing in, say a sleeve-less or low waist jeans, would make him automatically assume that she is loose and not to be respected. It is a problem which stems from a society that has taught men that only women dressed conservatively are to be considered respectable. So for an educational insitution to attempt to ‘protect’ female students from this essentially male problem reeks of hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness.
This begs another question, touched upon nicely by the above article. Is it right for a place of learning, meant to promote egalitarian values, to impose such cultural mores? Who is right here? One does not attend a college to learn how to dress. On such potentially divisive issues it is best, I feel, to leave the matter to the students and their parents. Let them regulate themselves. Externally imposed restrictive orders will only make matters worse.