Women, across cultures, religions, communities, and social classes, have one thing in common - the experience of living in a patriarchal society, where, for years, they've been treated as inferior citizens.
Here's a look at some of the things we've constantly been asked to "hide", because it's easier to control women than to teach men, right?
1. Bra Straps
Bras are expensive and necessary, for most women. And even if they were cheap and women were wearing them just for fun, what exactly is wrong in letting people see that strap? It's *just* a bra strap.
2. Body Hair
Men: I like women who look natural.
Also men: If you are not waxed, bleached, shaved, and threaded to an inch of you skin, then can you please hide what God gifted you?
Honestly, let the young boys play with Barbie dolls and maybe they will lose their fascination with hairless bodies! And let women decide whether they want to shave or not.
3. Sanitary Pads
Women have joked about it. Women have cribbed about it. No, it's not men's inability to give orgasms (that, women have given up on). It's society's inability to see a packet of sanitary pads. Men are literally peeing in public, but sure, a packet of sanitary napkins is what needs to be kept hidden.
4. Period Stains
Period stains and white, school skirts - I mean the story writes itself. But how is it okay to ask young women to constantly check their skirts, and guilt them into something they have little control over? It's just a bloodstain.
5. Any sign that you have an unblemished skin
Pimples, acne, freckles, facial hair - anything that lets the world know that women do not have unblemished skin must be hidden. How else will the multi-million dollar beauty industry benefit from your insecurities?
Patriarchy demands, no short skirts or shorts for women. Nothing that may "excite" the men. So what if we curtail women's freedom on the way!
With the speed at which aunties ask women to cover up their cleavage, and uncles start staring at it, you'd think it was not cleavage, but radiation.
From burkhas to ghoonghats, religions and communities from across the world have ascribed rules on how women should dress. Many of them ask for a woman's face to be covered. Are men under the same rule? I'm no theologist but I am hard-pressed to find a religion where men have to cover their faces. And even today, only a small section of women have the choice to wear these facial coverings or not.
If you thought buying a sanitary napkin was akin to buying a bomb, try buying condoms as a woman in India. Your heart is set to the tune of Aamir Khan reciting "Ram, Ram, Ram" in Ishq, and the stares you get from everyone at the chemist shop are scarier than RGV Ki Aag. *Sigh*
10. Emergency contraceptive pills or pregnancy test kits for single women.
Women have sex. And condoms aren't 100% effective. But sure, let's shame single women for being responsible.
11. Sexual Desires
If the above two points did not make it clear, let me spell it out explicitly - most women have sexual desires, fantasies, and a healthy libido. And they want to exercise those desires.
12. Sexual History
From the myths surrounding the hymen to the presence of vaginal tightening creams, gels, and surgeries (yes, they exist), there are enough instances to show how a patriarchal society exists to erase a woman's sexual history. But men can talk about their sexual conquests in movies like it's no big deal.
13. Signs of aging.
If you thought the term 'aging gracefully' was a compliment, then think again. Because everyone ages. And everyone is graceful. But while men are not under the same baseless scrutiny by society, women are judged and shamed for wrinkles and white hair far too often. Don't believe me? Just have a look at how fast a woman in the entertainment industry transitions to mother roles. And at the end of the day, movies are a representation of our society.
The efforts a lactating mother has to make, just so she may feed her child in public, should enrage you. But what enrages men is a bit of skin, on show, because how can they stop themselves from sexualizing it?
It's high time the world changes for the better, teaches men about respect and consent, and stops telling women to hide!