The Union Minster of the nation asked men during a speech in Gorakhpur whether any of them would think it advisable to marry a woman who wore jeans: at a time when educational and cultural institutions are in terrible shape and the regressive tendencies in full swing can we really expect better?
If clothes made a man civil, humble or wise there would be no need to think about social institutions such as education, culture, family or the civil society as merely buying the appropriate set of clothes would make the society egalitarian, peaceful and democratic. Patriarchal and regressive mind-sets have been constructing our social milieu for a long time but when the leaders of the nation make extremely objectionable remarks on women’s dresses as definitive aspects of their character, capability or potential we really cannot help but pose an objection.
A person’s sartorial choices are a product of their personality, their preferences and individual choices and nobody except the self shall have anything to do in terms either selecting or rejecting clothes for the person in concern. We shall be concentrating far more right now on the dilapidates structure of our education system where not only is the quality inappropriate, there is insignificant appointment of teachers and staff, compromised safety of students and so on and so forth.
On the other hand we live in a culture where the market forces have reduced the individual’s primary identity to that of a mere consumer whose only purpose in the world is to become capable of endlessly transacting in the marketplace. We have created a social context where with the lack of quality education and the deficit of a culture where social justice and political democracy are duly emphasized and thus we are facing the larger problems of corruption, misgovernance, and lack of social welfarism, intolerance and cultural conflict among many other related concerns.
We shall be paying all our attention to improving these key institutions of the society. But instead of paying attention at the right place our leaders choose to dictate women what women should or should not be wearing. The Union Minister of the country landed in big trouble when during a speech he asked the audience whether any man would like to marry a woman who wore jeans to the wedding. He said that women who wear jeans are the most undesirable candidates for marriage and if they wish to get married women should be more cautious about their sartorial sense. He said that just like a man cannot become a mahant while wearing jeans similarly a woman who has any desire of finding a groom must rethink her dressing sense.
He said this when he was addressing a gathering of students at the Foundation Day of the Maharana Pratap Siksha Parishad the academic wing of the Gorakhnath Temple, Gorakhpur,Uttar Pradesh. Look at the irony of the matter, a senior leader making such an archaic and objectionable statement among young learners who are at a stage where they have extremely impressionable minds. They are yet to step into the world, meet other men and women, look for their vocations and become active members of the society- is this the way we nurture or socialise young minds?
The minister must also keep in mind that if just by wearing certain clothes people’s characters became good or they attained enlightenment or intelligence- our parliament would have been a temple of morality because largely all politicians wear the colour white(the symbol of peace and purity). Does he have any advice for himself and his colleagues? It is time we challenged such medieval mind-sets and allowed women to pursue their heart’s desires. Men and women are partners in everything and extremely equal, then why put these derogatory obligations on the woman? A woman’s purpose on earth after all is more than just marriage, men like the minster himself must begin to understand before it’s too late.