Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ours to question why

The first excerpt is written by Karan Thapar. I have always thought him to be a little stupid specially after his television programs and also his other articles where he had written about benazir bhutto as if she would have solved all the problems between india and pakistan if she was alive and at the helm of pakistan. I on the other hand think its probably the best that lady was killed or else pakistan would have by now used its entire terrorists against us while the americans would be eating out of her hands. I have not forgotten that while she was at the helm pakistan was the most vocal regarding kashmir.
So when I read this article, it came as a very nice surprise.----

At first, I was taken aback that the president of France should have spoken about the burqa and in an address to the parliament at that. But the more I read, the more sense it seemed to make. Presidential addresses ought to be about issues that transcend the daily struggle of politics and Sarkozy had framed the burqa in bigger, more important, terms.

“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue, it is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” the French President said in his Versailles speech. “The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women. I want to say solemnly that it (the burqa) will not be welcome on our territory.” Perhaps, more than any other, this sentence was received with rapturous applause. In fact, Sarkozy’s comments on the burqa captured the headlines, even though this was the first presidential address to the French parliament after Charles Louis Napolean Bonaparte 136 years ago and despite the fact that Sarkozy’s 45-minute address touched on many subjects, including the economic crisis.

Beyond his indisputably correct comments on the burqa, what struck me about Sarkozy’s speech was how different it was to the sort of fare we, in India, have grown used to. Neither our politicians, nor our president talk to us about issues other than politics. Either for reasons of misplaced political correctness or because they haven’t thought through the matter themselves — and I bet it’s the latter — they avoid moral issues. This, I might add, is both sad and a mistake.

Moral issues need to be questioned and debated. They must not be buried under the weight of custom or under fear of the controversy any comment could provoke. If politicians feel strongly about them they must speak out. Not just because silence would be deception but because that’s how a debate is started. And democratic societies need to question and debate.

Let me also add that just because a politician speaks doesn’t mean his or her point of view will be accepted. Sarkozy knows that only too well. So let not an exaggerated opinion of themselves become an excuse for timidity or reticence. However, because they are politicians and are practised speakers they could frame the issue intelligently and create a platform for equally thought-provoking responses. And that is important.

But will we ever hear Manmohan Singh, L. K. Advani or Sonia Gandhi speak to us about issues such as the right of women to drink in pubs, wear jeans in colleges and lead normal lives after widowhood? I hope so. But I doubt it.

The second one is written by Indrajit Hazra whose articles I really like probably because his thinking matches mine after all he is also a fellow bong.

Ever wondered what goes through the head of Ashok Srivastava each time a young woman in jeans walks past him? It’s demanding enough for the Convenor of the Uttar Pradesh Principals’ Association to stay composed when any jeans-wearing young woman walks by. But imagine the serious conflict raging inside Srivastava, a good man of the kind we don’t meet often enough these days, if a jeans-clad college girl with a dexterous figure — with the wind blowing through her hair — and humming ‘Jaadu hai nasha hai’ walks by in slo-mo.
Well, I can’t see his perfectly normal heterosexual reaction to a young, attractive lady wearing figure-hugging trousers being any different from yours (if you’re a man, that is) or mine — except, perhaps, in intensity, which in turn depends on the frequency of spotting women in jeans on a regular basis (not that much for Srivastava, I would presume) and one’s own hormonal balance.

What is different, though, is how Srivastava wants to deal with his biologically-driven affection for women in denim: by not having them anywhere near him. (In some societies, of course, a more effective method would be to punish women in jeans so as to make them stop existing altogether.) As far as I’m concerned, you don’t have to be a hick or a pervert or even the head priest of the Guruvayur Temple to be distracted by the ergonomic quality of jeans when fitted on to a charmingly-shaped lady. The nature of the limbs-hugging jeans, after all, is to highlight the physical attractiveness of the wearer. (Thus, the total pointlessness or more of, say, President Pratibha Patil wearing a pair of Levis 901s.)

No woman — or man, for that matter — wears clothes to look unattractive, not according to their own set of aesthetics, that is. Their objective may be to look ‘smart’, ‘traditional’, ‘radical’ or a permutation-combination of all three. But the basic premise, even of someone like Sushma Swaraj, is to present oneself as ‘attractive’, a diluted-by-evolution-and-social mores version of the original biological purpose of looking attractive: advertising one’s sexuality.

The woman-in-jeans, of course, elicits different reactions in different settings. A jeans-wearing girl walking along Flora Fountain in Bombay will be seen as a different entity from the same girl in jeans cycling along a Gorakhpur alley. It’s as different as an attractive lady in a sari in Delhi is from an attractive lady in a sari on the streets of, say, Melbourne.

So, much of everything that surrounds the business of women in jeans boils down to what men make of it — and what women make of what the men make of it. The pitch against women in jeans, of course, will never be in the following form: “I am reacting hormonally to those girls in jeans under that tree. Please ensure that they don’t wear such tight clothes and force me to think of things other than the price of plums!” Instead, the rationale is always on this line: “Other men — lascivious ones — are reacting hormonally to those girls in jeans under the tree. Please ensure that they don’t wear such tight clothes!” Here’s Ashok Srivastava’s version: “It has been seen that eve-teasers generally target girls wearing jeans or modern clothes.” The truth is that I don’t think he’s wrong. One man’s women in hip-hugging jeans can be another man’s women in bodice-hugging salwar-kameezes.

The latest jeans imbroglio won’t be the last jeans imbroglio. Men will — comfortably or uncomfortably — get turned on by this iconic, all-pervasive apparel that accentuates the wearer’s hips and buttocks.