Butt out of my skirt and my blouse, please

What’s with women’s clothing? Everyone has an opinion on it. No one judged Steve Jobs on his ill-fitting jeans and boring black turtlenecks.

Without exaggeration, I am quite sure my very first memory is of someone telling one of the many women in my family what was appropriate clothing.

This when the men roamed around bare-chested, and an ugly lungi (sarong) tied well below their belly and folded above the knee, for good measure.

But goodness forbid if a woman had the freedom to dress as she pleases. The skirt was too short, the tee shirt too revealing, the sari blouse too deep, the sari too transparent, the kurta too tight, the dupatta not modest enough… it never ends.

And if by some gentleman’s (I use the term loosely) standard your dress is not appropriate enough, then he had the right to treat you in an unladylike fashion.


Here, in Doha, I swing between two extremes.

Publicly, it’s considered modest to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Which is not an issue for me, I am usually in jeans and tops. But I do like to show a little cleavage. I think it’s pretty. But that’s a no-no too.

The nature of my work is such that I have to meet and work with ‘fashionistas’ (The ones who know 2 cms below the knees is fashionable but 3 cms is dowdy?)

I don’t get this obsession. Why are women constantly under pressure to conform to moral/cultural/fashion standards of dressing?


There is this whole argument and discussion around a public park that has enforced a dress code. Clothing that covers wrists and ankles (why don’t they just distribute a spacesuit to all female park users?).

This has, as expected, resulted in several frayed nerves–some for, some against this dress code.

Which doesn’t really bother me.

What does is that some argue because a few women chose to dress ‘immodestly’ all women were being subjected to this rule.

Have you heard of ‘she asked for it’ argument by rapists? This is just a variation of it. Seriously? When women are once again being subjected to crazy rules, you choose to blame women for it?

Why isn’t it just about what we like and are comfortable wearing?

When did it become a cause for politics? And Why?

Why is it the French government’s business to interfere with a woman’s right to cover her hair?

Why is it anyone’s business to mind my hems or my necklines?

Would you please butt out of my skirt and my blouse and mind your own bleeding business?


7 thoughts on “Butt out of my skirt and my blouse, please

  1. Deeps says:

    I too heard about the ‘dress-code’ being thrusted upon by the ‘park’ and it was extremely bothersome and ridiculous to say the least. But I also heard that men were being targetted too, Vani. Dont know if I should console myself at the knowledge that its not just women but men too or be seriously worried about a far wider repercussion this might cause.

    Apparently a husband of one the members of a forum I am listed in, was told off by the guards in the very park, because he was wearing flip-flops and not socks and shoes! 🙄 I have even been hearing that this whole ‘dress-code’ fatwa is going to come into effect in the entire country! *Shudder*

  2. Navina Anand says:

    I agree , those rules are absurd. What is modest and immodest has always changed with times and while it is perfectly fine for a woman to wear a saree without a blouse , let alone a bra !! in some Indian villages, people would freak if a woman went to office without a blouse in the cities ! So yeah , acceptability is very contextual and I think also relative. I believe in , “While in Rome” … In Florida, where everybody is in a bikini on the beach, nobody gives a damn what you wear .. but if you wore a two piece in Marina beach, you are just asking for trouble… and yes, you will invite trouble, if you dress inappropriately- while I am not for a minute justifying rapists and creeps, men ARE turned on by visuals and if you don’t want men to look at a certain part of yours, don’t show it. But if you are fine with showing it, expect them to look at it – I think that is fair. Cover up if you don’t want it looked at- legs/boobs/neck/face whatever. Ultimately you should have the freedom to show what you want and they should have the freedom to look at what you show.

    • UmmON says:

      True. See. Don’t touch… And leave it to parents to speak to minor kids, and leave it to the adult to make her decision. I have a problem with really small kids being forced into a head scarf. They haven’t even been given a chance to explore options or decide for themselves. It disturbs me to see toddlers in sexualised bikinis (paddings et al)… but I am not going to interfere, because they have parents who are taking that decision, even if I don’t agree with it. I just don’t want the government or the ‘society’ to be up in arms over my clothing choice.

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