Why ban jeans? Why not lungis

What is it about this shapely comfortable attire that worries us Indians?

 |  3-minute read |   13-10-2014
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What is it about jeans that gets even the most sagacious men all riled up? KJ Yesudas, the legendary singer who has female fans of all ages, swooning when he hits the high notes, has a problem.

“Women should not cause trouble to others by wearing jeans,” he said recently. Why would he have a problem with God’s children wearing what they are most comfortable in?

If only he had cared to mention how exactly it affected other women or even 74 year old men like himself. Wait, he did mention it, he is reported to have said, "It distracts others".

And further added, “You should dress modestly and do not behave like men… Don't do it to attract and make others do the undesirable.” And to make his point even more clear, he stated, “What should be covered should be covered”.

This is not the first time that jeans have got an acid treatment. In India, they are always looked upon as the “evil” garment that causes women to lose their morals.

In 2009, colleges in Kanpur (interestingly, the women-only institutions) insisted on banning jeans on campus. The idea didn’t quite take off, and while the mannequins still flaunt jeans for young girls in several two-tier towns, the garment is far from welcome.

So what is it about this shapely comfortable attire that worries us Indians? Is it because they are "trousers", and we would not want the weaker sex to don them?

If sexism is at the hem of "ban the jeans" movements, the caste system also finds woven into the jeans discourse. BJP MP Raghunandan Sharma recently reiterated Yesudas’ comment, he said that girls should not be allowed to wear jeans, since it did not gel with the Indian culture.

He is reported to have clarified later that he was not suggesting this to the whole country, “but as a representative of the Brahmins, this advice was only for Brahmins.” Jeans now have moved on from small, large, bootcut, regular, comfort fit to "suitable caste" fit.

The beacon of the evil Western culture, the "jean pants" have to be subdued before girls start sitting cross-legged on chairs, hop on bicycles, learn to move around without worrying about anyone looking at them.

The jeans that entice and shock the country when worn by women must be banned say most. The pockets at the back, could hold some dangerous ammo, the air of freedom and the fact that one would have to wear T-shirts or short kurtas would mean further change in the wardrobe that guardians of culture, would then have to find a way to ban. Jeans must go.

In this same vein, we may have to ban all garments that may cause a flutter.

Yesudas and the lot, who love lungis or Mundus (as they are called in Yesudas' home state, Kerala) may have to be kept in check as well. There are countless traumatised children and women who have been made to feel uncomfortable by that fluttering lungi which was not kept in check by many swaggering men.

Then, you have the ugly display of underwear being used as a swimming trunk by hirsute men on all of our beaches. These men must be instantly arrested for damaging retinas, as well as culture.

It is a shame, that at a time when the country is trying to protect its women, the only advice from people who can help, is to tell women what they need to wear.

How can that prevent rape? Maybe instead of banning jeans, we need to ask women to carry a sickle or a knife at all times, to dismember anyone who wants to do “undesirable things”. Then you won’t need jeans at all. You could wear shorts and be safe, shorts with pockets of course, to keep a dagger hidden.

After all, what must be covered should be covered, eh?


Sharon Fernandes Sharon Fernandes @scribbleamus

The writer is a journalist, food writer and an opinionated voyeur.

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