India’s liberals want to fight traditions and break stereotypes, but they appear to be very selective about which traditions they want to fight.
A few days ago, a picture of a woman with her saree with its bottom cut off had gone viral. The woman is holding up a pair of scissors while the remaining part of her saree lies on the ground, and she poses defiantly while looking at the camera.
The reactions to the picture were a mixture of bemusement and indignation — some people laughed off the picture as a misguided leftist’s attempt to smash the patriarchy, while some other people wondered why Hindu traditions were repeatedly targeted in this manner, while other religions and cultures got off easy.
It turns out the source of the picture is an Instagram account named Yaami. The picture in question was posted 28 weeks ago. It was captioned: “Break the stereotype👑. International Womens Day Wishes❤”, which made it apparent that the Instagram user wanted to symbolize the cut saree as a message to break stereotypes.
However, on 10th August this year, the account had posted another picture. This time it was of a fully-clothed nun who looked perfectly happy with her attire. “By his grace..thou shall enjoy life and love each other until his kingdom come,” was the caption of this picture.
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Now it’s a free country, and people are free to pose as they wish. But it’s strange how the same Instagram account, over the span of a few weeks, can consider a saree a symbol of patriarchy that must be cut into a mini skirt, and also simultaneously glorify a nun’s habit.
Objectively, a saree reveals a lot more skin than a nun’s costume — most sarees leave the midriff completely exposed — so it can’t be argued that sarees are sartorially restrictive while nun’s habits are not. Also, a saree doesn’t seem to restrict achievement in any way — women wearing sarees in India have sent rockets into space, become CEOs, and even become Prime Ministers. On the other hand, nuns lead much more limited lives where everything from their dresses to sexual choices are constrained. So it’s hard to understand which stereotypes the Instagram account was breaking when it chose to cut a saree in half, while finding a nun’s habit completely acceptable. But this appears to be the state of India’s feminists — they reflexively seem to hate everything Hindu and Indian, while being enamored by other faiths that might be a lot more regressive towards women.