How To Handle Breasts: Kerala Women Protest With Watermelons
On Monday, Jauhar Munnavir, a Kerala professor, shamed Muslim women students for not wearing their hijabs ‘properly’, claiming that they were deliberately exposing their chests “like how we slice a small part of a melon to see if it’s ripe”.
A lot has unfolded since then:
1) Following his comments, women from Farook College took out a ‘watermelon march’ in protest. They held slices of watermelon in their hands while seeking action against him.
2) Activist Rehana Fathima joined the campaign titled ‘Maaru thurakkal samaram’, which roughly means ‘protest to bare the breasts’ and Fathima’s friend Diya Sana shared photos of Fathima on Facebook, bare-chested with watermelons in hand. She also posted a photo of herself as a mark of protest.
3) Fathima’s photos were taken down by Facebook a few hours after Sana posted them.
Now, let’s rewind a bit.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see a woman’s nipples?
Do you feel aroused? Do you feel embarrassed?
Does a man’s nipples elicit similar reactions?
Why, then, do we feel no fear for a man’s nipples?
Probably because the woman’s nipples are part of a mandir that is otherwise known as her body. This mandir belongs to the loving janta. Think of this mandir as a Facebook post. It is always open for likes, comments and shares.
But a man’s nipples don’t bear much weight. Think about it. The bias starts at the nipples. Then comes the breasts, the lips, the hips and so on...
Each body part is wrapped in a shroud of ‘honour’ which is stripped and exploited in the same breath. To be able to breastfeed in public, to wear what one wants without intimidation, to forego a bra at work... is that too much to ask for?
Instagram once took down a picture of a cake because it resembled a breast! If this isn’t hysteria, what is it? Free the Nipple. Stop sexualising a woman’s body unnecessarily. Treat each women the way she wants to be treated.
More so, in the light of recent happenings.
(Free the Nipple is a gender equality campaign that was created in 2012 after Lina Esco started filming ‘Free the Nipple’. While the campaign argues that women should be allowed to bare their nipples in public, we believe the message runs deeper than that. We believe that change starts with acceptance. Acceptance that a woman is not just an object of sexual pleasure. Acceptance that women might be built differently, but they’re still the same. )
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