In a widespread protest across Kerala, women are taking to the internet to post pictures of their breasts. The protest came as a response to a Professor of Farook Training College in the town of Kozhikode, saying that the students were deliberately wearing their hijabs improperly and were “exposing their chests like sliced watermelon“.

Students are also sending over slices of watermelon to the professor as a form of protest and some female students conducted a rally on campus to express their dissent. These students were met with an outpouring of support from students of nearby colleges.

The professor made the statement while speaking at a seminar in Kozhikode. He said, “I am a teacher of a college where 80% of students are girls. Though they wear the hijab, they expose some part of their chest defeating the very purpose of wearing them. They expose, you know like how we cut a slice of watermelon to see whether it is ripe or not”.

The professor clearly refuses to acknowledge that women get to make their own choices, free of male supervision.

He also said parents and religious leaders should take note of such trends as they were against the very tenets of religion.

He went on to say, “You should see how they wear the hijab. They cover their heads with a scarf. They wear the hijab in a way their chest is not covered. We all know a woman’s bosom is one of the body parts that attract man [sic] most. But our girls expose their chest giving an impression that the rest of their body is like the exposed part”.

The professor in question teaches Social Science at the college. This makes it necessary for us to question the fact that if our educators hold opinions like these and think it acceptable and appropriate to speak of women this way, how can we thrust upon them the responsibility of educating and making a generation of young adults responsible, sensitive and aware?

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Teachers like him can only pass on sexist and bigoted opinions.They cannot be expected to mould the future with the colours of gender equality when all they know are shades of patriarchy and sexism.

The professor clearly refuses to acknowledge the fact that women get to make their own choices, free of male supervision and societal expectations. These women get to choose whether or not to wear the hijab and how to wear it, in case they choose to. When it comes to women, we often forget individual rights precede community expectations.

Although most people agree that the professor’s comments were problematic and sexist, they have also expressed disapproval with the way women chose to protest against it by baring their breasts. Women taking to social media to protest this professor’s misogynistic views, that directly target them, by posting pictures of their breasts, is a peaceful way of protest.

we cannot tolerate women abandoning the morality falsely associated with their bodies.

It does not cause any public disruption or incite any kind of violence. Yet, they are facing a backlash, mainly because we cannot tolerate women abandoning the morality falsely associated with their bodies. If women want to bare it all, as a form of dissent, then so be it. It is a choice they should be allowed to make, just like the choice to wear the hijab and how to wear it.

Patriarchy is so deeply ingrained in our conscience that we often overlook a woman’s right to choice and a woman’s right to non-conformity. Women do not have to shape their lives according to our regressive, patriarchal beliefs.

We need to remember that when we berate women to conform to the societal expectation of feminity and what makes ‘a good woman’, we will be met with anger, dissent, protest and outrage. After all, we now live in the age of Time’s Up.

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Featured Image Credit: BBC

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