#DressLikeAWoman: How social media schooled Donald Trump and a Mumbai principal | india-news | Hindustan Times
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#DressLikeAWoman: How social media schooled Donald Trump and a Mumbai principal

The hashtag started trending after sexist comments from Trump and the principal of a Mumbai college.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2017 16:50 IST
Zehra Kazmi
Is there one way to #DressLikeAWoman? The hashtag started trending on social media in response to sexist comments from Trump and a Mumbai principal.
Is there one way to #DressLikeAWoman? The hashtag started trending on social media in response to sexist comments from Trump and a Mumbai principal. (Shutterstock)

What do Donald Trump, the 45th US President, and the principal of a government polytechnic in Mumbai have in common?

Apparently, a shared obsession with what women should wear.

A few days ago, media site Axios reported that Trump was extremely particular about how his staff dressed and liked female staffers “to dress like women”. “Even if you’re in jeans, you need to look neat and orderly,” a source who was part of Trump’s presidential campaign team told the website.

On Monday, a Mumbai newspaper reported that the Government Polytechnic College in Bandra came out with a list of guidelines that included segregating male and female students in the canteen to “avoid sexual harassment” and introducing a ‘suitable’ uniform for women, possibly salwar kameez. According to the college’s principal, Shashi Deshpande, women who “dress like men” start thinking and behaving like them, and end up “suffering from PCODs” (Poly Cystic Ovarian Diseases) at an early age.

Trump’s advice stems from his emphasis on appearances: the idea that women, no matter what job they do, should look a certain way. Deshpande’s comments betray a different logic, one which is used to police women’s bodies and dress codes to ‘protect’ them from harassment (and in this case, PCODs).

But despite the difference in the motivation and the cultural context in which these comments were made, the advice for women remained the same: Dress like women. Don’t dress like men.

Of course, since it is the 21st century, women threw down the gauntlet and started the hashtag, #DressLikeAWoman. Indian women took the hashtag one step further and turned it into #DressLikeAnIndianWoman.

Social media flooded with images of women running in saris, or dancing in a skirts or a kurta, at work in a labcoats or marching in uniform or landing an Olympic medal-winning jump in a shiny bodysuit. The diversity of clothes and poses on offer was the argument itself: there is no one way to dress like a woman.

Hundreds of tweets later, women have done enough to dismantle the notion that there is an ideal, one-size-fits-all dress code for the female species. But in case any presidents or principals are still confused, they can refer to this feminist masterclass contained within a single tweet: