A woman is sitting at home, working on her laptop, when she hears the doorbell. But before she opens the door, she wraps a scarf around her neck, because… Well, we all know why.
Elle India’s recently released video is all about the male gaze. It shows women in various everyday situations - at work, at home, reading in a cafe, catching up with friends, driving a car - and how we are usually forced to ‘cover up’ because the judgment and stares of society are everywhere.
The video has many failings: It focuses only on upper class women, forgetting that working class women encounter all this and worse as they go about their lives. It seems to hint that it’s mainly working class men who do the staring and the leching - waiters, drivers, cafe staff, peons. Most of the women in the video, save one, would fall into the typical young-and-thin body type that the media celebrates…
But it’s got one thing bang on: The discomfort that women feel as we occupy any space - public or private - when it comes to society’s expectations of what parts of our bodies should or should not ‘show’.
The lived reality of women is that whether we’re ‘fully covered’ or dressed in ‘revealing clothes’, whether we’re working or taking a break, whether we’re inside our home or out of it, there is always someone who finds something to stare at.
And even if there isn’t, the feeling that someone might is ever present.
Predictably, the comments section of the video posted on the company’s Facebook page is filled with men doing what many men do: mansplain to women why ‘showing skin’ and ‘being cheap’ is wrong.
Sample this: “If the girl has to struggle with her short skirts why is even wearing them? What do you expect- you will wear a short skirt and none will look at your legs (when your intention is showing the legs, though) Seriously!!” exclaimed one male expert.
Another male saint meanwhile had some words of advice: “you have your freedom but make sure to do the right thing not to do anything which makes you cheap.”
A pervert joined in with, “So why not you guys show off your bodies and clothes off out public??? Surely i will be ONE there for support and enjoying.”
But the overwhelming response from women watching the video is, this is exactly how we feel.