What Next? Where will ‘the Exposed’ go?

Yatindra Bhatnagar

Even at the risk of being labeled as something that some other people who think like me, have been branded, I have to speak up. I am not a part of the “Politically Correct” culture and am not afraid to call a spade a spade, or rather a dirty shovel.

On 14th July, two dozen or more American women lawmakers deliberately ‘bared their arms’ and showed up as a protest at the Capitol. It was a bi-partisan show.

Normally I would not have any problem with women going about their business, in sleeveless dresses, though it may not be necessary. But that the ‘right to bear arms’ has now become the ‘right to bare arms’ is a disturbing act for me.

It is a ‘deliberate’ show, a protest-action to flaunt their bare arms to take a stand for something – even if it’s not that important or even if it is not an essential part of your job or life. But some women are in the habit of either protesting whatever they think as anti-women or making a fashion statement.

The trend is now competing to be ‘bolder’ than the boldest. And this is the extremely popular trend in show business, in the movie industry, on television channels’ shows and even news programs.  It’s fast becoming a must to go up the ladder to catch up with the most sought after stars, or just be in the limelight and attract attention – for the wrong reasons.  

But lawmakers are not in the show business. They have more serious business and more substantive issues before them. They are elected to do a different job of national and international importance. They are not looked up to as models or fashion icons and are not expected to flaunt their bodies, and show their skin.

But some women have the weirdest notions about themselves.

They have been protesting about everything and their popular method of protest is to show their skin, to showcase their bodies, to announce non-challantly that it’s their body; they can do anything with it.

On the other hand those protesting on July 14 are in serious business of making laws, helping to run the affairs of the state – not their own affairs. Of course they also have their bodies but those bodies are not supposed to be exposed, not used for protesting and not to flaunt; they can flaunt their minds or expose their rhetoric.

These are respected Congress women elected to make laws, change laws, and contribute positively to the betterment of the nation and their constituents. Instead they spent time in making a statement by baring their arms and showing their skin even if they are not habitually doing it in their normal life.

These Congresswomen on both sides of the aisle were united on ‘baring arms issue’ though they rarely agree on bills or resolutions.

The lawmakers were protesting the dress code in the Speaker's Lobby, a room bordering the House chamber where lawmakers congregate between votes and where reporters conduct interviews. The dress code for the room required women -- reporters and lawmakers -- to wear dresses and blouses with sleeves if they want to enter. The rule also requires men to wear jackets and ties. I don’t know if men also would protest ‘baring’ something.

The dress code move was aimed to maintain some kind of decency – something that separates them from being ‘fashionistas, show-offers, lovers-of-showing-their-skin, models and the like. 

I am not saying that a sleeveless dress is obscene, shameless, or vulgar. Yes, ‘baring’ to register a protest is a disgusting to me for, I don’t know what will come next, where will this lead us to, or if this kind of protests will ever end, if at all.

To me the misguided one’s feminism is around their bodies, showing their bodies, using minimum clothes, showing their skin at any and all places, including in a Parliament House (as the Australian chamber witnessed a member nursing her baby while moving a resolution.)  They will show their shoulder; often both  shoulders, mid-riff, knees, thighs and what have you. 

In other instances women’s protest takes the shape of nursing babies on the steps of the city halls and other public places and thereby showing much more. 

What were they trying to protest, or trying to prove?

In any case, if this trend continues the misguided and thoughtless ‘progress’ toward  ultra- feminism would be intolerable, not knowing where it would end. Or it would never end till everything is exposed, everywhere, every time, in every way.

I see some news anchors/readers/interviewers/weather reporters on TV with ‘bolder’ dresses – in a couple cases the other staffers had to bring a jacket or something else to cover the presenter who was covering/reporting the news.

It was all on TV. Probably they were excited that they were more closely watched.  

Rewind to 1947 in New Delhi, just after the Partition of India to carve out a Muslim nation named Pakistan, I witnessed a scene I have not been able to forget.

As I was walking on a road, an elderly man shouted at a group of young girls: Sir par dupatta kar (cover your head with the stole).

He was an old-fashioned man that considered covering head by girls a sign of modesty and respect for the elders. It’s not hijab (the Muslim head-covering). But we have come a long way and 2017 is not 1947.  None, except some orthodox Muslims, covers their heads as at least not in the cities and the western society.

The practice has undergone tremendous change. Now designers have become bold – and shameless - to suggest and design dresses that don’t hide anything, anything. These dresses are all-you-can-or want-to show. Probably women are obsessed or brainwashed and follow whatever is introduced – or accepted – by movie starts or TV personalities. They think showing is beautiful. And women have fallen head-and-mind-over-heels for these newer and newer designs.

Sadly women in supposedly not-so-modern India are fast catching up with the Westerners, even trying to go a step or two further. They have adopted the ripped, torn, faded jeans; they bare not only arms but shoulders and much more. Their dresses are shrinking from both upper and lower sides and also splitting from both the sides. Some don’t have anything under, some want to show whatever is under.

Things go bolder and bolder at award shows, opening nights and other similar occasions and the bodies and body-parts becoming more visible as time passes by. Sometimes they take the help of doctors, surgeons and get cosmetic jobs done to reduce or augment their body parts – sometimes with disastrous results.

The latest trend is transparent dresses that don’t leave much for imagination.

Another craze – came back again after Michael Jackson got for himself – is changing the color of your skin. A prominent Indian actress not long ago did it to make her skin a little more fair. She already has done wonderfully well in dozens of movies but, ‘Ah, to be fairer is bliss’ and, ‘Who’s the fairest of them all!’ She might have felt the need to be fairer. May I ask, for whom, for what?

God bless her!

And God Save all those who follow the newer trend, and enthusiastically wait for new ideas that keep coming. The craving is there, grows more and more. Wow! 

Sometimes I wonder why some of the laws are lenient - or even non-existent - for women whereas they are strictly enforced for men. That is for exposing.

You read men being arrested for ‘exposing’ some vital parts of their bodies. Women are not while they keep on exposing various parts of their body. Either the women’s exposed body parts are not that vital, or important or significant or private, or the definition differs. If those parts are not that significant or that private why do some people who grope, fondle or even touch them are guilty of an indecent act, a misdemeanor or even assault?

If those parts are ‘private’ it should be a crime to expose them. If not, then touching etc. should not be considered objectionable.

It’s as simple as that.

Yes, it’s a free country. You can dress as you like.

But it’s not a free country if you are prosecuted for something that is a crime for some, not for others. You can’t discriminate on the basis of sex, or gender.

It’s free country, so far, for expressing your views.

I have just done that. And I am ready for the backlash.  


Random Recollection