Will we ever get used to seeing flesh?
The brouhaha stirred up by the bare flesh and athletic dancing of the imported (mostly American) cheerleaders at the IPL matches is over. The politicians demanded that the girls cover up or quit and well, they’ve covered up. In a recent match they were in “shiny blue lycra suits that covered their entire bodies under matching silvery skirts.”
Everyone seems satisfied. The politicians and the public (including women) who believe that scanty clothes=immorality as well as those who wanted the girls to dance and liven up the match.
Exposure to Bollywood dance numbers is not the same as exposure to cheerleaders
However, the argument that cheerleaders are no big deal because we are used to girls in skimpy clothes in Bollywood movies does not hold as one cannot compare girls behind a screen to live dancing girls. People associate these kind of live dance performances to bar girls performing in seedy bars and clubs. I am sure the presence of the half-clad cheer girls has been a bit of a shock to people, both men and women.
This is what historian Ramachandra Guha said in The Telegraph (UK):
All the organizers are doing by making scantily clad white women dance in front of huge crowds is to stoke the base, voyeuristic and sexual insecurities of the Indian male. It’s revolting and crude.
Sure, the dancing was a little crass, and in fact I would go a step further and say that perhaps it was unnecessary at a cricket match, but I am totally against any ban or getting the girls to cover up. There is nothing wrong if the girls are willing and the organisers think it adds razzmatazz. Its a good thing that the girls were not covered from head to toe at last night’s match (Chennai Super Kings vs Bangalore Challengers) in Bangalore. Not all state governments are playing moral police apparently.
If the Indian male gets insecure so easily, then he needs to see more such dances not less. But why talk of just the Indian male? One should say sub-continent. Even seasoned players like Shahid Afridi get “distracted” by cheerleaders! He has said:
The girls in skimpy dresses should be removed from the ground as this is distracting to batsmen…Cricket itself is an entertainment and does not require such cheerleaders to entertain..
Two questions remain.
Q1: Why so much fuss over the girls’ scanty clothes and relatively little over the fact that these girls were eve-teased and subjected to lewd remarks?
Q2: And why were the people who made these remarks not hounded out of the stadium by security?? There was unprecedented security at the IPL matches, and the guards were given strict instructions to arrest anyone who made racist remarks, indulged in rowdy behavior or threatened the players. And if some eve-teasing incidents happened outside the stadium, why didn’t the police arrest the hecklers?
I didn’t hear of a single arrest. Hear what a cheerleader from Uzbekistan had to say after a match in Jaipur:
I’m shocked by the nature and magnitude of the comments people pass here. Be it a 70 year old man or a 15 year old boy, they all ogle us and make amorous advances. I feel very threatened. We are here to entertain them, to add a bit of glamour to the game, but we are living in constant fear of molestation.
Many (including women) feel that this sort of behavior by rowdies is “natural” as the girls are “asking for it.” I am sure their solution to keep the men in check is to cover up the girls and tone down their moves, completely glossing over the fact that on Indian streets girls wearing “modest” clothes and walking demurely are routinely teased and molested. Why can’t our politicians and our police understand that there needs to be a zero tolerance policy towards eve-teasing as that’s the only way people will learn how to behave? But we are a long way from that. Forcing the cheer girls to hide their bodies simply reinforces the belief amongst the public that it’s the girls who are at fault.
I was in Goa recently. While we were at a beach we heard a group of boys discussing about how they planned to go a little further down the beach to an isolated spot to see ‘topless” foreigners sun-bathing. What were these guys thinking? That they were doing a “guy thing”? Did it occur to them that the topless women did not want to be seen? Why not go to a prostitute to see boobs or what the hell, go to someone who’s willing!
(Photo credits: BBC)
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