Before you read any further, I would like to make a point very clear that Provocative Dressing is NO EXCUSE FOR Sexual ASSAULT.
Provocative dressing is, has been and will always be the essence of the fashion scene. The concept I am trying to reflect on through this piece is a bit differently framed. Firstly what is provocative fashion and its connection to our Ancient history. Second being provocative fashion is a choice which no one should be judged for. Lastly how is provocative fashion not an excuse for sexual assault.
What is provocative fashion?
From time to time fashion has evolved differently. If sticking to a dictionary, the word provocative means “causing anger or another strong reaction, especially deliberately. Provocative clothing actually stands for body hugging clothes which enunciate certain body parts. In the evolution of clothing as we say this genre of clothing has never been neglected.
Modesty has had different definitions over time and in different regions and communities.The way people dress up or carry themselves has always been a matter of choice. There is no such relation that can be drawn between a person’s character and modesty. People just did what was convenient.
Which brings me to the other half of this section
Connection to our Ancient History
According to the history of fashion , there have been mentions of women not even baring their ankles during the Victorian times whereas in the 1800’s flaunting bosoms was in vogue. If we look at the Indian history of fashion, there is a similar contrast noticed.
What most of us today believe are home-grown ideas of decorum and modesty are in fact British imports , which we may also refer to as the after effect of the British Raj. There have been historical references of both Indian men and women wearing clothes just on the lower body. Sculptures from the Maurya and Sunga periods (about 300 BC) prove the above mentioned point.
The British influence became stronger over time and that is how the terms blouse and petticoat made their way into our culture and the dictionary as well. Traditional Indian modesty, thus turns out not be not very Indian.
Provocative fashion is a choice
To support this point I would put upfront a composition that I read somewhere. Assume a cup of tea. The way you like it , may be a strong one with some sugar and to add that little spark of flavour throw in a cardamom pod. That tastes great and now assume another one without sugar and that pod of cardamom it tastes bland to you. Just because it tastes bland to you does not mean it will taste the same to someone else. Some people might actually be the ones who love their tea exactly like that.
Our clothes are our identity. The way we dress make us stand out or blend in. Just because your approach to modesty and decency differs from someone else’s, it does not make you eligible to character assassinate them. After all it’s the other cup of tea, focus on your own. A value judgement placed on someone’s clothing by someone other than the wearer does not really make much sense.
How is provocative dressing not an excuse for sexual assault?
Last but not the least, provocative dressing is no excuse to any kind or type of sexual or physical assault. The whole idea of provocative clothing has been used as justification for rape and other sexual aggression portraying woman’s choices provoked the man’s aggression. For instance if a man gets teased by someone walking down a lonely street, how would we justify that? Were his pants too tight or was his shirt showing too much skin.
None will ever comment like that because they have taught us men dress decently in whatever they wear. Just because a form of clothing does not match your point of view, it does not give you any kind of authority to molest the wearer. Rape is not a consequence of provocative clothing. It it just a ramification of power assertion which if wanted can be controlled.