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Of Bras, panties and sanitary napkins!!

It all started at JLF when one of my panellists friend talked about their newspaper ‘s story on sanitary napkins and how it forced Govt to make a policy of their distribution in schools. ‘It’s all market driven ‘dismissed the other one , I jumped in and narrated an old story of girls who were bitten and injured by ants because the ‘assigned’ cloth was not clean and got infested by ants . After half a century of womanhood I had actually thought that times have changed and we have come a long way .That now we are liberated enough to make ‘Pad man’ but this incident forced me to review and revisit everything.

The Bras :
Yes, we wear them and look forward to get our first one . A few decades back it was given by a hesitant mother ,no eye contact and the super excited girl would hide all her excitement and will rush to try out her first one . Oh it was just a lame white boring bra !The dreams of lacy beautiful bra would shatter and it would only happen on an outstation trip when she would treat herself with one or an NRI cousin would present one .with changing times we have exclusive international lingerie stores ,lingerie sections in multi brand stores and a common factor – men walk past hurriedly thru that section while the women with them would browse around ,men are lost .there are many men standing outside the exclusive lingerie store and fiddling with their phones while their woman is lingerie shopping . I have seen men balking at the idea of entering the lingerie shop as if they will be branded as ‘besharm’ and yes women are to be blamed too as they are very uncomfortable with the idea of picking their lingerie in presence of other men ! Oh come on ! They wear vests and we wear bras . End of matter ,right? Wrong . Men can go without a vest under their shirt but can we ? Can I actually talk about going braless while I am yet to figure out what is the big deal about a ‘bra strap ‘ showing? It’s just an undergarment that every woman wears ,so why should it be discreet ? It has to match the colour of a shirt so that it doesn’t peep thru . Ah the weird concept of – you can go backless or strapless but if your bra strap strays from it’s place ,some good girl friend would walk up to you and push it back discreetly engaging in a casual conversation . every one knows you wear a bra but it’s a secret ! And seamless is the latest in fashion ! It kind of screams to me – wear a bra without leaving a trace on the garment you wear over it ! For men -ye aaram Ka Mamla hai – for you ye chhupaane Ka Mamla hai !

The Panty :
Now what’s wrong with that ? I mean haven’t we seen every baby girl wear one , the lovely frilly ones before the advent of diapers and now ,after they are potty trained ! So panties are not something that arrive with youth in a girl’s life .but as the girl grows in to a young woman she is faced with a challenge of wearing it discreetly ! Now try any online lingerie shop and the most hyped panty is the seamless – the one that doesn’t show its hem line in the pants? So here we are – till not so long ago all the boys / young men were wearing low rise ( why is it called rise while it actually falls – literally) jeans and brandishing their undies’ brand on their brief belt -jockey ,Calvin cline etc ,a girl/woman is supposed to hide their already hidden garment ? Or wear an extremely uncomfortable, awkward thong so that it doesn’t show ?

Sanitary Napkin :
yes we menstruate , that’s what makes us a woman ! If any part of body bleeds you will make sure that it’s covered and free from infection! We need sanitary napkins / tampons when we have a situation ! It happens to every girl / woman and happens every month .so it’s a normal occurrence which has been around forever. The co Ed schools are still having girls only meetings to distribute sanitary pads wrapped in black poly .this black poly or newspaper is the guarding tool of sanitary pads . As my niece put it they put it in the glass windows ,there are billboards of hot and huge stars endorsing sanitary napkins but when you buy them ,it’s passed with utmost discretion in your hand but isn’t it obvious that one is not buying a square cookie box at a medical store ?
So why is there so much of secrecy around a woman’s womanhood symbols ? Why the men in the family or boys in the school are not being told about it and normalcy restored ? Why there are no wending machines for sanitary napkins ? Why there are no good ,clean and plenty of toilets for the woman in situation to change ? Leave alone ‘change ‘ there aren’t enough to take a leak !

No wonder those girls who waited for the night fall to go to the fields to change couldn’t see and hurriedly used the said alternative which was full of ants !

A woman needs privacy in her wash room but she doesn’t need to hide the fact that she wears underclothes neither does she have to be ashamed of her biological cycle . Will women’s day change that outlook? Until then what women’s day are we celebrating?

©Falguni Driftwood
JOURNALIST, BROADCASTER, FILMMAKER & ACTIVIST

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