Of legs, mores and a photo that stirred Malayali psyche

anaswara rajan
Anaswara Rajan is said to have handled the comments with a certain maturity beyond her age.

The Malayali psyche leapt to perch on a visibly ugly moral high ground as actress Anaswara Rajan posted a photo of hers in shorts. But the more refined Keralites shared the ‘wonderful’ limbs they had on social media in a gesture of solidarity with the young actor who turned 18. The online campaign was called ‘women have legs too.’

The photo which Anaswara shared evoked outrageous and obscene comments from several social media users. Anaswara had come out against such comments. She said: “What I do is not your concern. You should be more bothered about why you are bothered about this.”

This was followed up first by actor Rima Kallingal. She shared a photo of hers and captioned it: ‘Surprise, surprise, surprise; women have legs.’ Rima Kallingal’s call to other women artistes to flaunt their legs was quick to gain currency. In quick succession, actors Nazriya, Parvathy, Ahana, Anna Ben, Apoorva Bose, and Anarkali Marikar, too, posted photos of a similar kind.

A young woman joined the campaign saying her mom was fine with her brother wearing boxer shorts but uncomfortable when she wore a similar dress. “It took a lot of time to get my mother’s idea changed,” she said.

A lot of men had come out in support of the campaign.

The one underlying question was whether the morality of women hinged on the dress they wore. The activists shared the thought that Kerala had earlier witnessed ‘problems’ with women wearing jeans and churidar.

Sex education needed

P. Abhirami, a journalism student at Sacred Heart College, Thevara, said it was only a misconception that a completely ‘covered’ woman was safe. Each human being is a free persona. Sexual attraction is a biological process. There is a need for proper sex education and mutual respect, she said.

Every man a sovereign republic

P Abhirami, Bipin Chandran, Shimmi Raj and Femina Jebbar

A person’s body is his sovereign republic, scriptwriter Bipin Chandran says. No one should try to fix the boundaries of another person. Such autocratic processes are outright obscene. What to wear is one’s own decision and not that of anyone else'.

Modernity of thought vital

Lecturer Shimmy Rajan says most Malayalis are educated and modern. But, she says, their thoughts lack modernity. Men and women are alike in this. They think women should remain the same and not change at all. They pass comments on everything about what one wears – including the size, shape, and fit of the garment, she says.

Stringent laws sought

Fashion designer Femina Jabbar said Anaswara Rajan handled the comments with a certain maturity beyond her age. The support extended by the general public and her colleagues is laudable. She said there should be stringent laws to deal with those who post obscene comments.

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