Judged and defined: are we what we wear? Musings of a self-conscious woman.

It was just a regular day. As usual, I hurried around in the morning trying to get my make-up right [by that I mean subtle enough for work] and get my attire for the day figured out. Knowing that it would take me an hour to get to work thanks to the ‘olfactory senses enriching’ traffic standstill at Thapathali bridge, I gulped my food and made a run for it. Thankfully I am in a tempo within minutes and rocking to my destination when the lady next to me waved the newspaper at me. Emblazoned on the front page is the line “Woman in skirt barred from district court” in one of our reputed dailies. All of a sudden my eyes jerk down to my knees- to re-evaluate what I was wearing.

At work, I took some time to read the article in detail. Summing up, a woman trying to enter the Kathmandu District Court was barred entry by security personnel as she was wearing a skirt.  Saving face, when the matter came to the attention of judges, they “allowed” her in. However, sources claimed that she was allowed entry only after wrapping a shawl around her legs. Turns out the concerned security personnel, in a display of bravado and misogyny, went on to blame the woman for the fiasco- claiming much ado was created due to a skirt.

How did I feel about it? ENRAGED. Is it about men dominating the society? No. Does it have to do with men objectifying the body of women? No. Is it about living my life as a second class citizen? No. The rage was pretty much directed at me- for my moment of weakness in checking what I was wearing.

When I was a child, I and my elder brother ran asunder wearing nothing but shorts. I became a teen and discovered bra and stockings- my supposed indispensable best friends. I grew up more and was told that Kurtas and Sarees are more appropriate for me now. The same trend is not followed by men. My brother can still run asunder in shorts. Am I saying I want to do the same? Probably not. Would I like to be able to without being judged about it or being self-conscious about it? Yes. As Deepika Padukone aptly sums up in her narration, ‘It really is my choice”. [Disclaimer: I am not citing agreement with the entire video]

The fact that worried me the most was the kind of person I was turning into. Last week, when I read about the Germanwings plane crash, the first thing I checked was to see whether the co-pilot was a Muslim. The thought came first, shame and apprehension followed later. The world has come to a point where being white means being against blacks and being blacks means wariness of the whites, being a Muslim means being an extremist, being a North Korean means being a pro-nuclear Armageddon nut, being a man means being powerful over women and being a woman is dissociation from control of men. I shudder to think of a world when a man will be afraid to touch a woman and a woman will regard with suspicion everything a man does.

I blame myself. I have let myself hear, see and be influenced by too many things. Only when we come to a world where being a person means just that, and not “Man”, “Woman”, “Hill Brahmin’, “Terai Madhesi” will we be able to create a society that is truly equal- different but equal.

I strive to be objective, I strive to be unbiased, I strive to be non-judgmental, I strive to be a person.

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  1. I somehow stumbled upon this article as I was merely surfing the internet. As a Nepali man living abroad for the past 7 years, this article gave me some optimism for the future. At least, we as a society are starting to talking about these social issues. I feel great sitting here reading what strong, young educated woman (not sure just my assumptions about the author) of Nepal has to say about issues directly pertaining her. As men (or any dominant group), having an open dialogues is the least we can do to get this train moving forward. I hope come back to this wise females site again to read great content. In the meantime, keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you crazyeugene1. We are really glad that as a man of the 21st century, you feel such interest in the issues of women. We sincerely thank you for sharing your opinion. We agree that men and women must work together to overcome what we see as social obstacles. Keep reading and commenting!!

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