Is a woman’s unchaste dressing responsible for a man’s misbehaviour?
Duration: 11 mins
Transcribed by: Bhaktin Raji Nachiappan
Question:Is a woman’s unchaste dressing responsible for a man’s improper behaviour?
– Woman’s unchaste dressing is the contributing factor and not the main cause. Main cause is still the man who behaves improperly with a woman. Blaming the woman is unacceptable. However, woman should take necessary precaution to not provoke the situation by dressing wisely.
– An analogy of a building made of inflammable material can be given here. The arsonist is still responsible for the fire to the building but the inflammable material will make the job of arsonist easy.
– Woman have the right to dress as they like but it is not a question of right or wrong, but a question of wisdom and common sense.
– We have the right to walk through a lonely dark road in the middle of night with jewellery and valuables decorating our body, but our chances to get robbed also increase in such situation. A wise person will take necessary precaution to avoid the situation as much as possible.
– Lust is a common enemy for both men and women. Both need to take necessary precautions. Men have to control the way they desire for women and women have to control the way they attract male desire.
There are two different aspects here: (i) the cause and (ii) the contributing factor.
First aspect is – the cause. If a man behaves improperly with a woman, the man is responsible. The woman is not responsible. For a man to blame his wrong actions on a woman’s way of dressing is an example of irresponsible behaviour by him. That is “victim-blaming” and completely wrong. The cause for a man’s improper behaviour is his own uncontrolled senses and mind. He cannot blame that on a woman no matter how she’s dressed.
In the Bhagavad-gita 3.40, Krishna talks about lust and where it is situated.
indriyaṇi mano buddhir
etair vimohayaty esha
gyanam avritya dehinam
“The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.”
Krishna says lust is situated in the mind, senses, and intelligence. Whose mind, senses and intelligence are we talking here? It is in the person who is lusty and initiates the misbehaviour. If a man behaves improperly with a woman, the source of lust is man’s mind, senses, and intelligence. The reverse is also true. The source of lust can also be a woman’s mind, senses, and intelligence. For example, a woman may feel attraction towards a man and may want him as her partner. The solution for lust, Krishna says, is to control the senses and purify them.
Then there is the second aspect – the contributing factor. Let us understand what is meant by contributing factor through an analogy. Suppose, there is an arson in a city. The police finds out the arsonist and punishes him. However, police notices that arsons are happening repeatedly. They investigate and figure out that it is because buildings in the city are vulnerable to catching fire because those are made of inflammable materials. Police can advise that incidents of arson can also be avoided by using less inflammable materials in building construction. Here we can see that the inflammable material used in construction of building is not the cause of the fire. The cause of the fire is still the arsonist who lights the building. However, the arsonist will damage more if the material in the building is inflammable. Hence use of inflammable material is the contributing factor.
Lust is like a fire. Krishna says that it is triggered in the mind. Here, Krishna is referring to the imagination. The cause of misbehaviour with woman is the man’s own imagination in a perverse way, but we need to understand there is something that will make the imagination more active.
In general, if women dress in revealing clothes, then it is like building a house with inflammable materials. By doing so we are increasing the likelihood of fire. Lust in men allures him with pleasure. A French lady once famously said, “Men desire women and women desire the desire of men.” A woman gets a sense of power by seeing how much and how many men are attracted to her. Physically speaking, women are made weaker than men. Nature has compensated for that by giving women the power of beauty. When a woman sees that a man is attracted to her that gives her a sense of power. Such power is meant to be used in a dharmic way in the relationship of marriage.
Just as a man may seek pleasure from a woman outside the relationship of marriage, similarly a woman may also seek pleasure outside of the relationship of marriage by attracting a man other than her husband. The same lust, which makes men want to exploit women, makes women want to allure men. Therefore, lust allures men with pleasure and women with power.
This power, as mentioned earlier, is meant to be carefully used. When women dress in revealing clothes, they are misusing their god-given power to attract men. This is like making the house with inflammable materials which increases the chance of fire. When the fire is set, whoever sets the fire is responsible, but the likelihood of fire can be greatly reduced if necessary precaution is taken.
Feminists say that women have a right to dress however they like. Here we need to understand that it is not a question of right or wrong, it is a question of wise or unwise. Suppose there is a certain area in a city where crime rate is very high. A person passing from this area in the middle of night blatantly showing currency notes in his pocket or expensive jewellery on the body is much more likely to get robbed than a person who keep such valuables appropriately concealed. Certainly, the person has the right to display his money, but wisdom tells us, why unnecessarily provoke wrong attention? We may have the money but when we exhibit it we attract further risk. There is a difference between the cause and the contributing factor. Even if the person is exhibiting the money, the thief is still responsible for stealing the money. The police will have to catch the thief, however, along with that the police will also advice the person not to openly exhibit the valuables.
In the same way for women, if a man abuses or exploits a woman, the man is responsible. The cause of the wrong action is the man, not the woman. Blaming the woman for that is unacceptable. However, along with that, she should also consider avoiding parading herself in revealing clothes, which also contributes to the problem. Revealing herself is not the cause but a contributing factor and hence it is better to avoid that. Rather than thinking that men are lusty and that is why they do such things, women also need to think that if she is exhibiting herself by dressing in revealing clothes, it is the lust within her, which makes her want to attract male attention. The same factor that allures men allures her also.
Rather than seeing men as the sole issue and the cause of trouble for women, we have to understand that lust is a common enemy for both men and women. Both men and women need to take necessary precautions. Men have to control the way they desire for women and women have to control the way they attract male desire.
(End of answer)