There is a recent trend among websites to have click-bait headlines to garner interest in order to increase traffic. Mostly the content is not only irrelevant, it also triggers bitter debates that end up hurting or blaming a section of society.
Like most things, they will also be forgotten and soon the same set of people engage in regressive arguments in other click-bait articles.
Kumudam Reporter the Tamil magazine, stretched this a bit too far with its article on September 23 and followed it up with an even stupider response by stating it was made in public interest.
The journalists concerned have taken up voyeurism and stalking in the pretext of coming up with an article thereby exercising their freedom of expression. It has put every journalist to shame and has implanted in the public, a sense of distaste towards media.
Media – a responsible purveyor of information has now left us wondering about our position as individuals in the society and the position of women as its significant section.
This magazine, in its cover page has photos of women, obviously taken without their consent, calling their clothes vulgar and going further by pointing out that it crosses “the limit”.
And, this is the best part: who in their right minds will compare an accident scene being reported to that of women wearing leggings? If it is just reporting public opinion / representing the society as it is, how about interviewing people like me? Who can give you a fair share of insights on how what I wear is none of your business?
Now, the first reaction should naturally be anger, frustration and a sense of violation of personal space. But to my utter shock, it was appalling to observe how a good number of people (men and women) thought that the article spoke absolute truth and must hence be adhered to.
The photographer must have stalked women wearing leggings to get photos which the magazine called vulgar and ‘crossing the limit’. Of course, the photographer crossing his limit and being a stalker is not under debate here. While he should be legally booked under the new amendment section 354D for stalking, there are all kinds of mockery going on about the women ‘lacking virtue’. The magazine seems to think that this is okay – just because it went ahead and interviewed some parents and random people? How about furnishing some information on the data that was collected for this article? Who all were interviewed? Which doctor suggested that wearing leggings was harmful to health? If it was really in public interest why post it with a contradictory caption and insensitive photographs? And, this is the best part: who in their right minds will compare an accident scene being reported to that of women wearing leggings?
Why is this country hell bent upon telling the women what to do, what to wear and how to behave is beyond my understanding. Is it because women are doing so well in their respective fields that it causes a sense of insecurity in men’s minds? That instead of treating her as an equal, there is a vehement attempt to put her back into the house and lock her up? Now, more than ever, this attempt is taking shape pretty strongly that it makes everyday life so miserable for women. How can it get better when women in powerful positions think otherwise? When the article stirred debates on social media, to my horror, a practicing psychiatrist quoted evolutionary psychology, as the basis to justify men being men and women must just “abstain from provoking”.
Being absolutely frustrated, we tried and explored legal possibilities to make them retract their abusive article. We didn’t have much luck there, but something needed to be done – anything. So a friend and I took to social media and started the hashtag #ourclothesourchoice where we will post a photo of our body parts but not the whole body. Soon we were able to rally a good number of men too in our protest. Some of the things they said were profound and with tongue in cheek at the same time.
1) Hey #kumudam, stalk me enough today and you might get a glimpse of my thighs or my crotch, but I guess you're only interested in policing women, when it comes to clothing! #OurClothesOurChoice #KumudamReporter Obscenity is in your minds, not in their clothes!
2) Those who impose a dress code for women with a threat of violence (*) have a certain IQ with which they will also believe that men wearing women’s attire is funny or degrading *Connecting attire as a cause for violence is actually a threat and not a concern #OurClothesOurChoice
Take a selfie of body part without face and share with this hashtag
Wanted to wear a leggings and take a snap but this is better!! Oops part of my thigh is visible!! Naaahh.. Am a guy and I have the fucking choice to roam naked too!!!
Has this made any difference? No. Will this change the misogynist notion of the society. Hell no. Did it create conversation about the ills of moral policing and violation of personal space? Yes. Did it bring together a lot of people together for a common cause instantly? Yes! Did women feel nice to know so many people are standing by their choices and their rights. Yes, yes yes! Did Kumudam offer any explanation – NOT YET!
We are still waiting, K Kuberan. The associate Editor who commented that the article was a public interest story and not meant to “hurt” women.