LIFESTYLE

A Bunch Of Men On Quora Are Debating About Indian Actresses In 'Skimpy Clothes' And It's Sickening

REPEAT: HER BODY, HER CHOICE.

06/07/2017 2:49 PM IST | Updated 06/07/2017 3:26 PM IST
Kareena Kapoor. Screenshot from Koffee With Karan on Hotstar.

Dear women, have you considered how your father, or mother, your cousin's father-in-law or neighbour's distant aunt would feel if you were to wear a bikini to a pool? Or a short dress to a party? Or a backless choli to a wedding function? Now, before you argue that it's your choice to wear what you want, consider this: in India, it might your body, but it's everyone else's damned business.

Recently, some "concerned" netizens took to Quora to initiate a discussion on how women exercising their fundamental right could be inconveniencing a lot of people. The following question is being hotly discussed and debated on the site right now:

Google search results.

Judgemental. Check. Sexist. Check. Meddlesome. Check. Sanctimonious. Check. Compelling proof of why women and men need to constantly, relentlessly call out sexist 'jokes', observations, comments and risk being called 'humourless' bots. Check.

Obviously, a lot of users rushed to answer the question, and a majority of them were men. And they said a lot of things, except for the obvious fact that women, like men, are persons can choose to wear whatever they wanted. That a lot of seemingly educated people with internet access got together to pontificate about women's choices, is proof that the women's movement still needed a lot of ground to cover.

The top answer on the thread, as this article was being written, began like this:

Quora answer.

Now why exactly it is 'obvious' that Chopra's parents should be a 'little embarrassed' with their daughter wearing a swimsuit to swim can't be defined within the parameters of logic. But again, the 'my body, my choice' idea isn't that popular in our country, is it?

The good news here is: the above post somewhat tried to 'defend' women wearing 'skimpy clothes'. The bad news: it was doing it all wrong. After commenting that the parents are bound to be embarrassed with their daughter's choice, the commenter listed Chopra's achievements and said: "Indian parents feel proud of their daughters for such achievements. That feeling simply overtakes the small awkwardness that parents have when daughter wears short clothes."

So, apparently, unless you're winning a Padma Shri, make sure you don't wear 'short clothes' and flunk the morality test of the country.

So, apparently, unless you're winning a Padma Shri, make sure you don't wear 'short clothes' and flunk the morality test of the country.

In fact, a majority of men echoed the same sentiment: actresses wear 'skimpy clothes' to become successful and if they are successful, there's no reason to carp about what they wear. Apparently, wearing what you want comes with a condition: wear if it guarantees success. One wonders if it occurs to these men that they are actually reducing actresses' success to their wardrobe and nothing else.

One gentleman went ahead and elucidated this: "Some of Bollywood parents feel proud, why? Not because being scantily clad is a matter of proud, but for that "their daughters a going places. Then there are Some parents who initially might be objecting but soon successes of their daughter let swallow their objection quite comfortably... Some parents are also there who even outrightly allow their daughters to go for even on screen smooching, it's acting afterall, they assert. It is understood by actress's parents that skin show has been compulsory for most of Indian films, their daughters will not be treated like godesseses here (sic)."

Quora answer.

A few others spoke about how it's okay to wear such clothes if you're moneyed and or pointed at evolving fashion in defence, and yet, missed the point about a person's right to wear whatever he/she feels like without being subjected to moral scrutiny.

Now, in actual liberal intellectual conversations, women's bodies won't be treated like family heirlooms that are to be wrapped up in layers of clothes and occasionally brought out to dust and air, but who's going to tell these men that?

In actual liberal intellectual conversations, women's bodies won't be treated like family heirlooms that are to be wrapped up in layers of clothes and occasionally brought out to dust and air, but who's going to tell these men that?

Another man posted pictures of bare bodied male stars and went on to question what people thought of men showing skin. However, he quickly forgot the issue of a woman's agency and asserted that no actress does a film without her parents' permission, so the latter must be okay with what they wear. In real life though, adult women don't need anyone's permission to take up any kind of work and owed herself that democratic right, but that's still a fledgling concept it seems for many.

Another answer — again by a man — had 1.3k 'upvotes' on Quora, indicating several people agreed with him. It concluded with the following sentence: "So no, not all parents are proud of their actress daughters."

He claimed that he'll provide an 'informed' answer and then penned the most horrifyingly regressive post on the entire thread. This dentist, began with a comment on actress Prachi Desai's family — that she belonged to a "respected caste" — and her father, on watching 'Once Upon A Time In Mumbai', went into a shell and stopped talking to people. Why? Because, this enlightened gentleman, explained, she shot some intimate scenes with Emran Hashmi, apart from, of course, 'skin exposure'. Caste bias. Check. Gender bias. Check. Morals from the middle ages. Check.

Only one man pointed out how hypocritical the question is, but still commented that since these women are successful one shouldn't make much of what they are wearing.

It finally took a woman to point out the utter ridiculousness of the question. "The question smacks of sexism. If the sense of orthodox propriety is to be followed, the parents of male actors must also be embarrassed about their intimate scenes with the female actors," Asha Choubey pointed out on the thread, calling out the misogyny fest going on in the thread. Guess how many 'upvotes' it received? Just seven.

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