From a very young age, desi girls everywhere are taught that many izzats are firmly tied to the clothes they wear. Pehle maa baap, kabhi bhai and, eventually, their husbands take charge of this izzat. Ab off scene tab hota hai, when our desi boys, too, grow up thinking that haan, a girl’s attire is somehow definitely tied to his own self respect and izzat. Now, you being a girl probably know this isn’t true. Even if you’ve been played by years of patriarchal values that have been instilled in your mind – it’s okay. It’s not too late to understand and deal with the situation.
Here’s a complete guide on how to deal with a guy who thinks your clothes are directly tied to his izzat:
1. Identify your relationship with him
Okay, let’s see. Kya lagta hai aapka? Bhai hai? Abbu hain? Boyfriend hai? Honay waley shuhar hain? Narrow down just exactly what the relationship is, because this is crucial for step number 2.
2. Establish that your relationship with him does not matter in any way whatsoever
Okay, once you’ve narrowed down the relationship, you firmly need to realize that
a) it doesn’t matter because
b) you’re actually your own person and not an object, or a linchpin that will set in motion he destruction of someone’s entire izzat they’ve spent years garnering.
3. Ask for a valid argument
Even if you know your clothes don’t affect someone else’s life, self-respect or honor in any way, it’s always nice to hear people out. Ask for a valid argument. The emphasis would be on valid here. If it doesn’t make sense, then uh – yeah. Not really valid.
4. Counter this argument with your beliefs
Okay, you’ve heard the desi guy out. Good job, because it probably wasn’t that easy. Khair, chances are that he’ll provide you with the age-old argument about how the clothes you wear invite buray log to do buri cheezein. He might throw in the whole lollipop analogy as well. And he might top it all off with how your clothes are an indicator of you ‘asking for it.’ Just keep debunking this entire mindset by providing facts. Like how infants and women in burkas are subjected to sexual assault, which really shows how your clothes don’t play a major role in the process. Maybe try to clarify how you’re not a lollipop. Or food in general. This might take a while.
5. Highlight how your clothes are, in fact, not tethered to his izzat in any way whatsoever
Inform this poor, misguided soul about how your clothes and his izzat are two separate entities. They do not overlap in any way and one does not impact the other in any capacity whatsoever.
6. Allow this fact to sink in
Since you’re trying to undo years of internalized misogyny, accept the fact that this concept will not be welcomed with open arms, or an open mind.
7. Realize that this may take a while
Give it a while. It’s not exactly the easiest task on the planet. And just brace yourself for A LOT of questions and comments.
8. Stay patient, even if he gets on your nerves
Look, he WILL get on your nerves. Just make sure your nerves are well equipped to handle everything that’s about to come your way.
9. Try to block out his rants
There will be rants. And you can’t blame the poor guy, either. Imagine having to unlearn everything you’ve ever known to be true. However, once he is drained of all rants, lay emphasis on the fact that your body is yours alone.
10. Do not get emotionally blackmailed
“I can’t have my future wife wear that. That’s disrespectful to me.”
“I can’t be with a girl who can’t respect herself.”
These are actual words by actual desi guys. So, uh – try to work your way around such emotional threats and what not. Pretty sure it’s disrespectful to believe firmly in the idea that what a woman wears is a direct indication of her character and will smear the izzat of the guy she’s associated with. Or to imply that a girl has no self-respect based on the clothes she chooses to don. But hey, in our society, we can brush over those forms of disrespect.
11. Shut down bullshit
Men are emotional creatures. They pretend not to be, but they’re driven strongly by emotion – that which they do not know how to fully process. Chances are, they probably don’t know how to deal with all of this emotion, because hum apne mardon ko sikhaate toh hain nahi. In no way does this give your emotionally charged man the right to spew kachra left, right and center. Call bullshit out when you hear it. Abhi nahi toh kab, you know?
12. Sit back and observe the changes (if any) your efforts have made on these desi guys
Once in a blue moon, a miracle will manifest and bless your life. Perhaps, (and this is a bit of a stretch) your efforts bearing fruit could be one such miracle.
13. Move forward accordingly
Once you’ve got a rough idea in mind about whether or not you tactics work, move forward accordingly. If you’ve managed to bring even the slightest bit of change in the guy’s perspective, you know you’re doing something right. If not – well, it’s a bit of a pipe dream, but keep working at it. After all, umeed pe dunya qaim hai.
Have fun, ladies. Don’t let them dictate what to wear.
Cover image: expressnewzpk.com