Recently, a village in Andhra Pradesh banned women from wearing nighties during day time, drawing flak from various quarters. The Tokalapalli village heads ordered that women cannot wear nighties from 7 am to 7 pm. Nighties, which were originally sleepwear, are the preferred daytime dress for most women, especially housewives, across Indian cities, towns and villages.
Interestingly, the village council which came up with the ban was headed by a woman. Those who violate the ban will have to pay a fine of Rs 2,000. Not just that, those who give information about the women violating the ban will be rewarded with Rs 1,000. The villagers believe that wearing nighties outdoors could draw attention and invite trouble for the women. However, no one has been fined yet.
A few people, including men, opposed the ban initially, but they had to change their stance because of the fine, which is a big amount in the village where fisherfolk constitute major population. Similarly, in 2014, a women’s group in a village near Mumbai had termed wearing nightie during daytime as an ‘offensive practice’ and threatened to charge a fine of Rs 500 on violators. India being a democratic country, people have the freedom to wear any attire they wish to. Do these kinds of bans regarding attires seem absurd? Or as the council claims, do nighties draw unwanted attention and create trouble for women? Then, what about other attire? Since the ban is always on women’s attires, does it mean that men can wear anything they prefer?
Why isn’t a council deciding what men should wear? Isn’t this a case of gender inequality? The intolerance started with a simple piece of cloth; will it spread to other attires, too?
Lungi eternal, nighty banned: Dr Mamta Shah, psychologist
A nighty in its very name has night in it, and in the Indian imagination is associated with provocative sexuality. Hence, it is understandable at one level that people, including women, would not want to risk any disruption to the family through sexual provocation. The difficulty is that all the responsibility for sexual provocation is laid on the woman whereas men’s sexuality is taken as a force of nature, which should not be provoked. Hence, what they wear is never questioned: the lungi is eternal but the nighty is banned.
It’s gender clothing psychology: Prianka Padhi, psychologist
Our clothes make a huge difference. People make their assessments in the
first few seconds. Differential gender-biased standards on what a man and woman should wear and being judged as less competent according to dressing style, is a part of gender clothing psychology. It is important to choose our dress style carefully. But the choice has to be of the person. If it is a distraction for another person, then it is more about the other person’s perception. We call it as confirmation bias where we tend to listen to those things which will confirm or prove our thinking perception on a point.
Ask about men’s attire: Rochelle Potkar, social thinker
Women should also be surveyed for what makes them uncomfortable about men — their clothing, social behaviour, and roadside conduct. That too should be rectified with penalties imposed by the council. Maybe Tokalapalli is on its way to becoming a model town. Though all said and heard, the nighty is hardly a revealing attire, its more tunic-like — a functional piece of clothing for many a plebeian.
Mindset should change: Aishwarya Honnavalli, psychologist
I think any kind of ban is undemocratic. I also read that the women didn’t oppose this rule. As a country and a society, we need to work towards changing our mindset. We have been brought up in a way that normalises victim shaming and blaming.
Women, stand up for your rights: Sreelatha Nair, blogger
The very existence of our democracy is being questioned here. In a country advancing in the track of developments, we cannot afford to witness such illogical wiles shot on a society. What to wear is undoubtedly a personal choice. There is no way we should buy such fallacious orders. Nighties are welcomed as one of the comfort wears by our women across the country. In this context, the culprit is not just a patriarchal society, but the . If the eyes are tainted, any attire will look provoking. What has to be treated is the mindset of people.