There is a flyer currently going viral on social media which jots down certain girls-only rules 'to uphold sanctity' of the said educational institution.
Shared by Satshya Anna Tharien, an alumni of St Aloysius PU College, the flyer has an inane, sexist list of dos and do nots for the females on campus. Because obviously the prerogative of keeping izzat intact, sealed and unscathed, is always women's.
The list places personal restrictions on women - no mehendi, no high or low bun, should not be found combing her hair outside the loo and suchlike. It then follows it up with this: no interaction between a single girl and a group of boys and vice versa, no girl or boy must 'touch' each other, no talking to boys of other classes.
If the same flyer had be circulated among the boys, and had they been asked to check their behaviour as well, these prudish rules would have made a little more sense. But from what Satshya writes, a close-door meeting was held only for girls and the rules are only for them.
She follows up the viral list with her own harrowing experience in the same college. Where the dean bullied her for her 'improper conduct' of sharing a book with a guy friend. While he was told to not 'repeat this', she had her grades pulled up, shamed and yelled at for unruly behaviour.
Having studied in a girls school and later in a college where misogyny dressed up as teachers, deans and principals, I am wholly un-surprised by this.
Conversations between girls of my school, and boys of a neighbouring one were considered taboo. The ostracisation came not just from teachers, but from us too.
Once as a fresher, while waiting in the college campus for classes to begin, I had an interesting conversation with the General Secretary of the Student Union. She wanted me to pull down my rolled up calf-length jeans because the sight of my bare ankles was distracting some seniors. I did as she told me to. Too new, too ashamed to argue as about 60 of my classmates stared me down.
There was an unwritten no t-shirt, no dresses, no skirts, no low-rise jeans rule for girls while the boys showed up in jeans barely hanging by their waists. And we followed it, because it was easier to be the institution's version of sanskaari than to repeat a year.
Later on, when not-adulting was no longer an option, it hit me hard that the only ones being forced to conform to a certain dress code, to adhere to a code of conduct, and even being publicly named, shamed and blamed for acts of eve-teasing, or even gang rivalry - were the girls. The boys went scott-free for what boys would not be boys?
So this viral flyer from St Aloysius PU College, is disheartening, yes, but hardly surprising. We've allowed this to happen unchecked for so long, conforming to chauvinism is standard, breaking free from it is an aberration.
--Edited by Abha Srivastava