How Much to Reveal?

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The cleavage issue of Deepika Padukone has brought to the forefront the debate on freedom to clothe and reveal. The inimitable Shobhaa De has joined the debate rightly arguing that Deepika’s cleavage is as important as Shah Rukh’s six-pack. The modern society has given the opportunity and courage to Deepika to slam the "objectionable" video posted by Times of India and flaunt her womanhood.

But, I have a different point. Why are a man’s bodily assets celebrated but a woman’s natural assets looked down upon as objects of lust? Why are women’s clothing only slammed as "revealing" and there is no equivalent in men’s clothing – discounting the occasional chest revealing by Salman Khan or the six packs of Shah Rukh Khan, which any way is a recent phenomenon?

If the oldies and traditionalists and the mullahs speak against revealing or scanty clothing by women, they are invariably slammed not only by the feminists but also by "progressive" males in the society. Now, how much revealing is really allowed? Different standards are dictated by different societies and there is a wide variation. In my standards (and I think it is fashioned by my upbringing in a traditional family and a rather liberal society), the mullahs are at one extreme, definitely. But so are the Kingfisher calendar girls, on the other extreme.

I really find it ironical that women should fight to wear whatever they want – meaning scanty revealing clothes. I am surprised they do not see it as a male conspiracy – who wants to keep women as objects of display and showpieces. Please fight for your rights, but don’t get deceived in fighting for keeping yourself as object of pleasure. In the coldest of climes where men are suited and booted, why do women still wear clothes which reveal their legs and arms and shoulders? Is it their choice? Is it tradition? Forget the fashion, I mean, don’t they feel cold? In my view, it is a conspiracy by the male society to satisfy their ogling and lascivious tendencies. Am I being an MCP?

Ladies who wear "decent" clothes like Saree, Sarong, Salwar Suits or Business Suits are looked upon with more respect and admiration than those wearing miniskirts or hot pants. At least this is what my "convoluted" mind thinks. But if women want to "show off" and still expect that they be worshipped, it is not going to happen whether in India or Pakistan or the west. In fact it has never happened in civilized society. The dancing girl of Harappa or the carvings and sculptures of Khajuraho are all examples of an ogling society.

The only places where women are really respected even in scanty clothes are in the so called primitive societies – the communities untouched by modern civilization – whether in the Amazon or the Andamans. But we on the mainland keep fighting and evolving and learning.

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