Exploring Un-Dress (verb) as a Metaphor for Respecting (Women’s) Personal Space


Concept by Pampi: sexual violence is as intimately connected to dress as the woman’s body. this piece explores the negotiation of the removal of a woman’s dress either by her own person or in interaction with others as a metaphor for the respect for (or lack thereof of) a woman’s personal space

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The context: removal of articles of a woman’s clothing in a negotiated space with another person role-playing typical figures in a woman’s life.
Possible roles: aggressive female elder, police officers, mother, aggressive eve-teaser, lover.

First day and my amazing roomies and friend perform an on the fly street theater piece for Harvard square vigil condemning rape and violence against women. Performers: Phil Berman, Josh Mamaclay, Manoj Mishra, Asha Alex and myself.

We cycled through roles until all my clothes were removed except a mini skirt
I removed this skirt before proceeding to perform Thenmozhi Soundararajan’s song “Die on this Bank”
In doing so, I tied the need to cast out caste as part and parcel to activism against gender violence

In the Press!

Two circles coverage
Further Reading:

Tracing the history of the ancient Indian legacy of chastity and clothing
Excerpt from “Saris: An illustrated Guide to the Indian Art of Draping” – by Chantal Boulanger

“Educated Indians are nowadays only too eager to pretend that their womenfolk have always been as puritanical as they are supposed to be today. They associate nudity with the loose morals attributed to Westerners. They have fully adopted the views of Moslems and Victorian Britons that the only way to control sexuality is to hide women’s body.

This was not the case in Ancient India. Indian society then was by no means permissive. Chastity was an essential value, but so was self-control. Women did not feel the need to cover their breasts, and often wore very transparent clothes. It was normal, accepted by everybody and did not have any immortal connotation.

Modern Indians will have to deal will the fact that their ancestors did not think that breasts should be hidden, even though it was thought a sensuous part of the body (in women and Men). According to ancient Indian literature, not many parts of the body have no appeal. Descriptions of even chaste women go down from the elegance of the parting of their hair to the beauty of their toenails.

The chaste and virtuous wife does not have to cover her beauty. The power of her chastity is enough to protect her, even though her perfect body is indeed sexy. ‘In fact, men more often than women used their mundanai to cover the upper part of their body. We might think that since they are never chaste, their bare chest could be attractive. In ancient Tamil poems, desire often arises in women as they watch the muscular breasts of warriors.


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