“Dressing like a man causes PCOS” and other batshit crazy statements from Indian educators

If you thought hormonal imbalance causes ovarian disorders in a woman’s body, then you’re in for a surprise. It’s actually your pants. And your shirt. And possibly your belief that you are equal to any man with the same qualification as you do.

Before you set about making clever and hilarious protest signs, we’ve got it on good authority that dressing like men, and thinking like them, causes PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). For those who are unaware of what PCOS is, it’s a condition where a woman’s estrogen and progesterone levels are out of balance causing menstrual irregularity, excess hair growth, acne and obesity. Experts believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause PCOS. But another ground-breaking theory has come forward that it’s actually women thinking like men that is causing their hormone levels to go haywire.

Swati Deshpande, principal of the Government Polytechnic College in Bandra, Mumbai recently said, “I have heard theories on why girls suffer from PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease) at an early age. When they dress like men, they start thinking or behaving like them. There is a gender role reversal in their head. Due to this, the natural urge to reproduce diminishes right from a young age and therefore they suffer from problems like PCODs.” She put out a charter that clearly described how the female students of the college should behave and dress to “ensure that they don’t start thinking like men and lose the urge to reproduce at a later stage in life.” It goes on to prescribe a set dress code for girls too (salwar kameez, what else) and to ‘avoid eve teasing’, have separate seating areas for girls and boys in the college canteen.

According to Deshpande, who we might add has about as much expertise in gynaecology as we have in rocket science, dressing and thinking like men affects a girl’s physiological make-up and it would be best for all those involved if she stayed clear of pants and shirts and stick to salwar kameez. It’s for our own good, ladies. Another good thing that has come out of this debacle is that instead of a man in a position of authority, this time it was a woman who is dictating what other women should be wearing. Progress.

In addition to the clothes, female students have been prohibited from wearing lipsticks and have to tie their hair in plaits. 

Naturally, the statement has received major backlash from actual experts on the subject and students of the college, who rightfully feel that the charter is archaic. It sparked the #DressLikeanindianWoman on Twitter generating some pretty on point responses.


But the ridiculous, and sad, fact is that this is not the first time all the problems in our lives have been attributed to the way we dress. For our ‘safety’ and ‘well being’ there have been many incidences of the ‘right’ dress code implementation across colleges and workplaces in India.

Most ridiculous dress code impositions in India

Protest dress code

The Bar Council of India, in 2016, imposed a dress code on the Hazra Law College in Kolkata, urging the female students to wear white saris with grey full-sleeved blouse or salwar kameez in black, as they felt that the students dress as if ‘they’re going to the gym or a discotheque’. T-shirts with captions and quirky hairstyles also made to the ‘no-no’ list in 2015 at the Scottish College in Kolkata.

Speaking of T-shirts, the Adarsh Women’s College in Haryana fined four girls for defying a 40-year-old dress code by wearing T-shirts to the college. Prinicipal Alka Sharma claimed that the dress code was in place because they wanted all students, from various backgrounds, to feel equal but also added that “girls should not come in T-shirt and jeans as it attracts men.” There you go.

Christ College in Bangalore banned lycra and leggings for women, going as far as to making security guards touch and check the material of female students’ outfit to prevent dress code violations. The former head of department for women’s studies in Bangalore University, Dr. KK Seethamma insisted that the dress code is in place for “women’s own good” adding that the female lecturers who wear jeans do not deserve respect from male students. And just in case you missed it, this is the head of the department of women’s studies talking.

More recently, Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College banned ripped jeans on campus saying that they ‘mock the poor’. The college has also banned shorts, sleeveless tops and short dresses.

In order to preserve Indian culture, with a side of ‘ensuring women’s safety’, Indian Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma issued welcome kits to foreign arrivals in the country that had a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ including ‘avoid wearing short dresses and skirts’. Because controlling the length of the woman’s skirt is far easier than, say, not assaulting her.

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