• The Feminist Times

Modest women: Mask as Symbolic

Wearing mask has become a new normal. How long will it last? Will mask make its way to sexuality and nudity? All of these insightful questions have made me curious to know more about the art of clothing. Being naked was so natural, then why did we become so obsessed with clothing? Hand and hand history of clothing goes with the hominid starting to drape their bodies. Undoubtedly the estimates of protection and guarding became a valid reason and served the purpose. Awaits the different verses of truth about clothes which is more complex than we might have imagined. My mum to me “you are not to sit with your vagina uncovered”, “your nipples are visible from your t-shirt wear a bra” etc. Once again all of these have landed me to question the basic notion of wearing clothes. So, the criteria here is that clothes are not only used for protection but as a taught learned behavior to cover intimate parts.



We are taught that our genital areas are the spots of shame, so it must be kept as an open secret concealed. This is just to fit the range of culture and social standards. Not just this, for a specific gender half naked is not a matter of shame whereby for the other revealing any part of their body givessociety the right to character assassinate them. I'm sure you knowwhich one am I referring to.


We live in a society were culture and social norms have defined the principle of nudity. For instance, Stephen Gough, the naked rambler,who lived naked and ended up losing hisfreedom and confined for showing too much skin in public. Henceforth, nudity in today’s date is an anti-social behavior. Which once upon a time was normal and natural is no more normal. Much stiffness lies in the way for the women. We people are made to look modest and that modesty is to please the site of the men. As such because our freedom doesn’t fall in the criteria that can be snatched because women are already made to sacrificed their freedom by relying on the judgement of the patriarchalsociety.


As a matter of fact, to gain back the freedom of our body and clothing we need to pay a deaf ear to the stereotypical voices of the society. Now the point that lies here is about wearing a mask. The pandemic has made us to cover our face. The hypothesis is that wearing a mask will protect us from getting infected by corona. Clothes do not fossilize, so we cannot get dirt evidence for the early human wearing clothes, further serving the purpose of being protected from the environment. And on a similar line we can see the chronology of face mask being used as a guard or as a measure of protection from the virus. Think of “Mask about hundred years later”.


What will happen after generations of covering face? Will face be considered as a private part too? Will it be considered as an anti social behavior for not covering it? Will we be shamed for not covering our face? Over time this might become a dynamicsubject matter of claims and contesting views. But one must not forget the stand that modesty cannot come with what one wears or through concealing a fewparts of their body.


Besides this, there are more pertinent issues faced by women in the name of modesty. The honor keeping symbols have created space for barriers in the path of women. Changes will come when women are given the right to choose their clothes, free of coercion, with no pressure of culture preservation and protection symbol.



- Naznin Sultana

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