On Tuesday, Pinjra Tod had an ‘Ode to Bra, Panty, and the Sahitya Kala Academy’ and left bras hanging on the walls of the Shri Ram Centre. They said it wasn’t only about the disqualification, but also about the unnecessary embarrassment attached to women’s undergarments and the hesitation to even mention them. Anyway, after all their fear of the words panty and bra, it turns out that the Sahitya Kala Parishad has also rolled back the disqualification.
Remember when “bra” and “panty” became horrifying cuss-words? Yeah, we don’t either. Kamla Nehru College’s theatre society Lakshya, though, found out the hard way that some adults find references to women’s underwear so offensive they felt the need to disqualify the group from a theatre competition for enacting a scene that mentioned them.
Lakshya performed a play entitled Shahira Ke Naam at Mahavidyalaya Natya Samaro, a theatre competition organised by the Sahitya Kala Parishad. The play was based on six college girls who live in a hostel and are making their own play, and touched upon the various things that happen in girls’ hostels, like numbering your underwear so that it doesn’t get mixed up with others’. The judges of the event, however, took umbrage to this and other scenes which mentioned these forbidden words, and disqualified the group for using them.
Radhika Dhawan, the president of Lakshya, said on Facebook that she finds it difficult to accept that learned theatre professionals find references to women’s undergarments more offensive that men passing lewd comments about a woman’s physique or character. Monami Basu, the convener of Lakshya, also took to Facebook to spell out her disgust at the judges’ verdict. She said the judges couldn’t even bring themselves say the words “bra” and “panty” when notifying them of their disqualification, so great was their disgust, and “ran away” when the students approached them to talk about it. Calling Shahira Ke Naam a mature and sensitive play enacted with elan, she rejected the “kind of perversion” that prevents young people from from having healthy discussions on sex, desire, periods and premarital sex. (She was, to the outrage of her students, promptly subject to cyber-bullying and harassment over the Facebook post).
Neha Sharma, the coordinator of the event, told the Hindustan Times that the judges had not disqualified the group, but had deducted points from them. She said that they used “other cuss words” beyond bra and panty, and that any group that used such cuss words would have points deducted too.
Somebody please tell these people what an actual cuss word is. It speaks awful volumes about people’s attitudes even in seemingly liberal spaces like the theatre when a group of adults finds references to women’s underwear more offensive than the the objectification of women and sexually violative language. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, bras aren’t horrifying, they are merely upliftment tools.