women, law and clothing
The topic came to my mind when i was leaving a comment at nothingman’s blog http://thefuckedup.blogspot.com/2010/08/go-topless-not-safe-for-work.html (contains a semi nude pic). So coming to the topic; in 19th century kerala there were some awesome rules that you wouldnt find anywhere in India, most of ancient india had the same rules and culture but this is a totally absurd rule.
Some 150 years back the women in kerala launched a feminist revolt for the right to cover their breast, women in kerala were not allowed to cover their breast; mostly this rule was applicable to lower caste women, when someone from higher caste would come she should show her breast to cover ones breast was considered a sign of immodesty. Brahmin women can cover their breast while venturing out but at home they had to be topless, shatriya women cant cover breast infront of brahmins and lower cast women couldnt cover breast infront of anyone. The cloth worn on lower part couldnt be lower than the knee.
I think in most of ancient india women generally were topless, there are some mention about this is kamasutra. If you think about the climate in india, generealy hot and humid most of the time, i would say being topless is the right way.
Coming back to kerala, what lead to the change in the topless trend was apparently the contact with the brits. Some people converted to christianity and as per european standards started wearing upper body garments, the higher caste people beat the shit out of such women, slowly the contact with britishers and rest of india made topless out of fashion, women started feeling ashamed of being topless, it made them feel inferior. One women who came back from europe all dressed up had her boobs cut by the queen, because she thought the dressing was vulgar. Changing fashion sense lead to a massive revolt and women eventually started wearing tops. I still remember when i was young some of the old women didnt wear upper garments. My mother says her mother was first women in her village to wear a blouse before that everyone were topless. If you think about it you will find it quiet absurd that just a century ago one part of india was totally topless and other parts had strict conservative dressing.
Another interesting law that prevailed was women were to pay taxes according to the size of their breast. One of the annoyed women cut her breast and threw at the tax collector. Fucking cool huh. Thats why i never trust in law, they are full of shit. If a movie were to be made in those days the censor board would have banned the scenes where womens breast were covered and today the quiet opposite will happen. Why men are always concerned about the way women dress. In todays kerala if you go topless you will be punished and doing the opposite would have got a punishment a century ago.
Now women in India want to wear clothes that reveal more of their body, and women in west want a right to be topless (http://www.gotopless.org) , soon women in india would want to be topless and life will come full circle.