There are two ways to look at individual-society relationship: First, an individual is always under an attack from the community, and, secondly, an individual grows and prospers in the community. How one resolves the conflict depends entirely upon the context in which the conflict has to be resolved: The individual freedom has to be snatched in the first paradigm and understood in the second. The capitalist societies, generally, take the first view, and the socialist societies, generally, the second. Unfortunately, I have not experienced the socialist societies, therefore I can’t really comment upon their viability — thought a lot of living in Auroville for some time, but never got time, motivation and desperation enough. So, my views are based entirely upon the first paradigm; i.e., I attach lots of value to individual rights and consider the community almost always a hindrance to an individual’s growth and development, and this seems to be the reigning paradigm of North India as well.
Now, comes the question of dress code for girls. The capitalist societies are extremely confused and complicated: lots of good things are discovered very fast by a few but accepted by all after a long, very long, delay, and that’s not only because people are generally slow at accepting new things but also because there are always some very active conservative elements present in capitalist societies, who ensure rejection of anything new. Ironically, the neo-liberals/new-rights have accepted economic development but out rightly rejected cultural development, which has led to lopsided development and is obviously negative. This has happened because the lopsided development is in the interest of business/mafia/establishment; for example, prostitution, pornography, drugs, etc., benefit business/mafia/establishment.
Now, let us examine the question of dress code for women in this context. Well, I think, men is hell bent on making all women naked, and all this debate on dress code for women is part of the same strategy. I wonder who really cares what a woman wears except for some self-acclaimed guardians of society. The long-term ramification of any such debate is penting-up of emotions in women and explosion thereof in the form of public nudity, i.e., in the form of live pornography. But, what’s wrong in it? Well, the problem with one gender roaming naked is the complete derogation of the naked gender: clothes are symbolic of civilization development, and depriving one gender of clothes tantamounts to its regression to the Stone Age and to its occupation as a slave. Ironically, women are not in minority, but still they are worst of than minorities; so, safeguarding the women rights is nothing less than safeguarding the minority rights or the individual rights. There just can’t be any question of dress code for women: every woman has a right to dress the way she likes, in burqa or in bikini. I am sure, if left free, in North India, very few women will chose either burqa or bikini; jeans-top would give stiff competition to salwar-kameez, but salwar-kameez would eventually win — I think it’s sexier. And men! Well, they won’t be able to rape a woman for wearing or not wearing clothes…but, yes, they can always masturbate!
©2012 Ankur Mutreja