The day men chose to wear skirts

Why the young men of Bangalore donned skirts and stormed into the streets gaining media interest and invoking public attention…

Meera Vasudevan/The Goan | FEBRUARY 16, 2013, 07:12 AM IST

Come New Year, the young men of Bangalore preparedthemselves for the grandest event of their lives – The Skirt-Walk! Twenty-fiveyoung men stepped out in skirts pledging their support towards women’s right todress and their safety. The radical movement caught the eye and admiration ofEve Ensler, the pioneer of women’s rights movements across the world and thecreator of the world-famous ‘Vagina Monologues’.

In India, female-oriented issues until now had been astruggle limited only to women’s relentless efforts in a male-dominated socialmindset. But, these young men from all walks of life, many employedprofessionals, entrepreneurs et al, changed that perspective when they gottogether at Cubbon Park, Bangalore on January 12, 2013 with the mission toenlighten the masses about the need to respect women irrespective of theirattire and background.

Samarpita Samaddar, a publicist by profession and AdityaMallya, an entrepreneur, took this initiative via Facebook through their page‘Skirt the Issue’ to do something unusual instead of the standard candle-lightvigils. To express solidarity to the cause, Samarpita encouraged men to “Wear askirt and speak to as many as you can against the misconception that what awoman wears is the cause for sexual violence against her. Go about your day asusual, go to work, go shopping, watch a movie, but do it in a skirt whereveryou are. But do tell people why you’re wearing it.”

Aditya wondered if he would be molested walking down BrigadeRoad in Bangalore, wearing a skirt. With that thought, ‘Skirt the Issue’garnered participation from hundreds of men while only twenty-five gutsy menactually turned up on January 12, 2013. They were joined by two hundred otheractivists in a bid to recognize the severity of rape and to skirt-up againstcallous remarks made against women as the initiators of violence, assault andharassment.

Obsolete political banter has accused women of ‘inviting’rape by what they wear. Even school-uniform skirts have not been spared,claiming to provoke the lustful gaze of men, by political party leaders.Serious issues have been wrapped-up by enforcing bans on certain items ofwomen’s clothing rather than curbing and enforcing stricter punishment for malesex-offenders. The ‘Skirt-walk’ was a non-violent anti-rape protest againstthis sexist and restrictive form of thought.

Aditya felt that it was about time men enrolled into thewomen’s rights and equality movements as men have the right to a career anddress of their choice whereas, women are still fighting for their  fundamental right to life.

With their action-provoking slogan ‘Strut a skirt, share ourworth’, Samarpita urged men and women alike to engage in conversation,storytelling, and sharing insights on crimes and violation against women.“Nothing shows more solidarity with women than breaking barriers and boundariesof ‘his’ and ‘hers’,” she asserts. In her opinion, men must avoid passivity anduphold their pledge to stand up and fight for all women facing violation.

Rape and harassment can only be handled when men and womenmove towards such issues together from the grass roots levels. Non-violent andcreative approaches are the need of the hour as these garner worldwide publicattention when introduced into social media platforms where they stir publicemotions and mobilize revolutionary movements.

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