Since the beginning of time, the entire breed of women in the world have been under fire by men – owing to their obvious patriarchal, chauvinist and misogynistic cerebration when it comes to the likes of us.
How we - as women - live, dress, progress, prosper and think has always been deemed unworthy of our respected confederates, the men.
Just a day ago, one of the most prominent and literary influential people of the country Abdullah Abu Sayeed published an article on one of the prevailing online news portals of the country about how the Saree is the unrivaled, unparalleled and unmatched attire that defines women as human beings.
According to the author, women as people and sentient beings can only be defined and taken into consideration when they drape their bodily curves with 6 yards of fabric that not only portrays their sensuality but also does an excellent job of hiding what needs to be hidden.
If this is not peak sexism and objectification of women-kind in Bangladesh – and that too coming from the likes of Abdullah Abu Sayeed, what is?
“Wearing sarees, the bodily high and low waves of women erupt in such a way that makes them attractive and unique,” writes ‘Sir’ Abdullah Abu Sayeed in an attempt to say that only by wearing a saree can a woman make herself worthy of being attractive and unique – that too in a way that is sure to sexually objectify her to no end.
But in his perspective, this statement is not meant to vilify a woman but is rather meant to make her feel superior because she has been deemed worthy of it by the man who has ever-so-proudly categorized her as sensual and alluring.
In the article, the author further iterates how only women hailing from the Southeast Asian region can make themselves look even remotely alluring in saree because of their apparent slim and tiny physique.
Is this all there is to being a woman? Her education, her career, her achievements essentially mean nothing if she dresses herself up in anything other than a saree, is less than 5 foot 5 or 6 inches or hail from any part of the world other than the Indian sub-continent.
In a world where body positivity is being put on its rightfully deserved pedestal and body shaming is being frowned upon, Sayeed has somehow broken all the progressive measures and proven himself to be one of those old men who still view women as nothing more than what the age-old beauty standard dictates them to be and an object of pure sexual desire.
Striving to prove his point that only women of the Indian sub-continent can carry a saree with as much grace as one can summon, Sayeed did not hesitate to shame women from rest of the world who are just as much graceful and sensual in their own ways. He has made his assumptions international by saying - “this is not an attire fit for the largely built African woman, and it may not fit the immodest and haughty beauty of German or English women. It can only suit women who have been blessed with tender and submissive build.”
There are many things wrong with this article. But the fundamental mistakes lie in trusting the author enough to not edit the story one bit, which is apparent because of the diction employed, and to publish it on one of the most read online news portals of the country – which is read by thousands of people from every walks of life on a daily basis.
It is about time that we can finally ask ourselves – where has our progressive standards gone? Many people in the country protest the Mullahs when they speak of women’s attire in a rather detrimental way, but are praising Sayeed for his article that flagrantly and publicly shame women who choose to dress otherwise.
All in all, what Sayeed penned down in his article is the exact same as some of these Mullahs’ demeaning words against women - all because of their choice to wear what they feel comfortable in.
This further proves that even in the last leg of their lives, some men do not shy away from displaying the predator that has always lurked within them.
Sadly enough, and owing to the fact that he belongs from the educated and alleged progressive population of the country, where he has done more than enough to restructure the literary ocean of Bangladesh and to introduce children to the wonders of books and novels, Sayeed will not be put under fire by many of the popular and influential figures of the country and most importantly – his followers, even though he has displayed clear signs of sexism, racism, patriarchy and misogyny.
In attempts to neutralize the situation which Sayeed obviously foresaw, at the end of his article he had the audacity to further reiterate that women have forgone saree due to how their lives have shaped up in an era where women are not only designated to take care of the household but they are also in charge of their own lives, careers and right to dress.
However, just like saree is not a defining criteria for the worth of women, Sayeed’s background and life achievements cannot define his lack of judgement and inability to keep up with progressive culture when it comes to women clad in salwar-kameez, jeans and t-shirt or any other form of clothing other than saree who are running the world just as gracefully as they themselves are without the 6 yards of discomfort.