These are transports from another culture where these things are a norm. But, even for that, the freedom in dressing, has not aided in any significant way, the degree of emancipation of the Western woman. If anything, it is the work culture that has shifted the equation a bit.
In India, on the other hand, traditional culture for generations has veered towards modesty. It is therefore natural for the vast majority of the old-school, to baulk at the sudden radical changes in the mode, manner and behaviour of women. In any case, all this rant about a woman's right to dress any which way she wants clouds the real issue. Of course she can wear whatever. But the point is where, and when and in what company. If my daughter is going to be taking a cab late at night alone, would it be wise for her to do so, wearing a skimpy miniskirt? No. Why? It's not about a woman's freedom here, it's about her sagacity and discrimination.
Women are liberated and free to dress the way they want, but the question is not about them. The question is about men. Are they evolved enough to see a woman in a short skirt and not have a kneejerk response in their minds? Sadly, no. And, if, even so-called educated men from 'good' backgrounds can slip up, what about the frailty of those sections of people from underprivileged backgrounds who lack fortifications of education and sound values? There are many such who throng the streets of our country - and now with a mobile phone too, providing salacious content at a click, adding to the potential hazards. That is why the need is not to berate the cautiousness- advocates, however crusty and antediluvian their approach may be. But, address the real need.
What is the need then? It is, to not bring belligerent defiance to the issue, but considered wisdom. Dressing alone is not the way to shout out your liberation. Neither is smoking, drinking and the rest of it. All this is just surface display. It doesn't go deep. Many women who adopt these mannerisms of the modern woman are often misguided - and used and abused by men, with impunity.
The point is this - real liberation, is not about clothes, or blather, it is about self-respect, self-confidence and self-possession. And it's about being tough.
The woman who goes every day to work, braving many odds, is liberated. She cooks lunch tiffins at dawn for the family, looks into matters of the house, then proceeds to her 'other workplace'... She multitasks, keeps her cool, slogs at home and office, and smiles. That's emancipated. That's mature. That's evolved. She is tolerant, loving and nurturing. That's because to be all that is not being un-emancipated but being what she really is - a woman. She is the high priestess of her home and has a sacred responsibility invested in her to safeguard that province. If she has to make a few sacrifices to that end, she does that too, for the larger good. That's only because she has far more strengths than a man, only she doesn't need to tom-tom about it. She knows. And, even the man knows. Only he would rather leave that un-stated and un-acknowledged. That's okay. Men are stronger physically, but have very fragile egos. Women are physically weaker, but have a very strong spirit. On the home front the power play has no relevance as long as respect is accorded to both the roles. Even the most successful women, slip comfortably into their traditional feminine roles on the home front. That does not make them un-liberated. It only proves the point that, there are certain innate differences between being a man or a woman and these cannot be wished away in the name of 'Women's Liberation'.
There are amazing stories that surface from our villages where women, with determination and courage are changing the narrative. The well-known example aired on radio about Priyanka Bharti is an instance in point. Standing up to what you believe is right, for core change, is the important thing.
Of course, it is frustrating that a woman should have to think twice and analyse whether it is safe for her to wear a short skirt or not. But, till the level of men's collective consciousness is raised, it would be wiser, for sure, to discriminate each time. Forget India, it happens in the West too all the time. Of course, women in any kind of apparel are unsafe, under certain circumstances, but miniskirts and the like, just make them more vulnerable in the murky climate of today.
That brings us to the real nub of the matter. Men have to get used to the idea of women as people, not women. They have to change their vision. But till then, women have to go slow and steady. They have to be, more than anything else, wise and discriminating.
That day on which a woman can step out of her home freely, any time of the day or night, in the clothes of her choice, and never have to worry if she is safe, will be the day of victory. A Victory for humanity.
Now, that would be real progress. Not all that we are seeing today ...