A woman principal of a Mumbai college has been quoted as saying that polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS — a common enough disease many women live with due to hormonal imbalance — happens when they dress like men, causing gender reversals in their heads, and reducing their urge to reproduce.
It's not enough that women have to deal with misogyny every day of their lives at home and work, but when sexism and objectification becomes institutionalised from an early age, right at schools and colleges, it's especially worse.
This is what principal Swati Deshpande of the Government Polytechnic College in Bandra had to say about how women should dress in college:
"I have heard theories on why girls suffer from PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease) at an early age. When they dress like men, they start thinking or behaving like them. There is a gender role reversal in their head. Due to this, the natural urge to reproduce diminishes right from a young age and therefore they suffer from problems like PCODs."
Deshpande's comments are problematic not only because she is attempting to reduce women, who've come to her college for an education, to tools for procreation, but also because she speaks from a platform that has huge potential for influence.
The women of the college currently wear the same uniform that the men do – white shirt paired with black trousers. But if Deshpande, a champion of the so-called "feminine" salwar-kameez, has her way, that will soon change.
Already the college canteen has two notices in Marathi up, segregating spaces for men and women. Which is ironic since they work together in classrooms. The Times of India quoted her as saying that the segregation was well-intended. Some women students have allegedly complained of harassment from former students who "create ruckus" in the canteen. But how separating spaces in the same canteen to keep away trouble-makers can curb that problem is unclear.
A student who did not want to be named, told the paper that they've also been asked to "tie plaits" and not tuck their shirts in.Suggest a correction