MEASURE FOR MEASURE: MUMBAI BANS LINGERIE MANNEQUINS

For centuries, humans are seen as the ‘most intelligent’ of the earth-dwellers, as organisms that possess the faculties to think, exhibit and control. Our mental faculties are meant set us apart from animals— giving us better control over our animalistic instincts and thereby lending sophistication to our social behavior.

However, humankind seems to be experiencing ‘turn-ons’ and ‘turnoffs’—tiny button-like movements within us—that we can’t seem to control. Our inability to control our animalistic behavior, or situations that lead to ‘turn-ons’, make us aggressive and animalistic. When we can’t control ourselves any longer, we begin to make irrational and impulsive decisions.

The Municipal Council of Mumbai, India, has decided to take action against what seems to be a breach in the law of human behavior.  Post the number of severe rape cases India has witnessed, they will be taking serious measures to prevent such occurrence, by getting rid of the stimulus that leads to such impulsive behavior.

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The Municipal Council passed a resolution last month banning the display of lingerie mannequins in the city of Mumbai. These scantily clad mannequins act as ‘turn-ons’ for men who see them, making them inclined to sexually abuse women, said the Council.

City Council member Ritu Tawde said she proposed the ban of mannequins because such displays instigate men to sexually abuse women and are degrading to the image of women.

She expressed a need to revert to the traditional Indian lifestyle, one that restrained self-expression for women, confining them to the acceptable.

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“Mannequins do not suit Indian culture,” said Tawde, adding that a mannequin is a replica of a woman’s body and therefore, should be dressed conservatively.

Positively speaking, I’m happy for Tawde that she thinks this way. What’s better than being restricted to wear certain kinds of clothing yourself and enforcing your fortune, or the lack of it, on the generations of women in India who might have to suffer because of your inability to adapt to change?

Tawde, and the rest of the Council believes, that the ban will effectively reduce the number of rape cases in the city of Mumbai, since men will not be ‘turned-on’ by looking at these “skimpily” clad plastic beings.

Really, I had no idea that a plastic body had the ability to sexually provoke people, but it seems like the Council has discovered a new scientific development.

Mannequins on display don’t give people the power of ‘choice’, Tawde said. “If someone wants to watch pornography on the net, it is a conscious choice they are making. In this case mannequins are everywhere and they do not have a choice.”Image

Tawde claims those lingerie mannequins, or any mannequin that sports a two-piece revealing outfit, displays women in an “indecent” manner.

“As per the provisions of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986, women cannot be depicted in an indecent or derogatory manner that is likely to deprave, corrupt or injure the public morality or morals” she explained herself to a news channel.

Mannequins serve as more than just instigators—they harm ‘public morality’—or beliefs that question the morality of women being emulated by the mannequins on display, and subsequently, making the men lose their morals. In other words, mannequins provoke sex-drives in men making them rape women. They outdo the porn industry. They’re the sex symbols of India. Wow.

Certainly, Tawde has no faith in the mental faculties possessed by men. I would like to bring to her attention that sexual drives originate in the mind, and essentially are subject to control. What takes a man to be turned on is irrelevant and not the question to be discussed here.

My major problem is with the fact that the Council feels the need to curb the sexual drives of men by banning the objects that drive them. Their measures seek to set a measure to the amount of clothing that is morally right to be sported by a woman. Today, they ban the display of mannequins. Tomorrow, they might start preventing women to dress in a certain way, or to walk on the roads, if we serve as a sexual stimulus.

Honestly, we can’t control who and what instigates a man. We can’t control what choices they make within their head and what makes them rape. But we certainly can control what they do.

It is up to us to put an end to the reactor, not the stimulus. We need to educate our men on rape culture. We need to kill the very existence of rapes. That won’t happen by banning the display of a mannequin, or by curbing the expression of a woman.

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What are your views on the issue?