A report (Overcoats for Cochin Teachers Proposal Evokes Mixed Response) appeared a few months ago in the newspaper about a proposal to introduce overcoats for teachers in government and government-aided schools. Some private schools have already introduced overcoats and are apparently happy with the results. But what is the idea behind this introduction of the overcoat? Cochin’s weather, hot and humid most of the year, is hardly overcoat friendly.
The initial justification was that the overcoat would function like a uniform that would enhance the dignity of the teachers. Most professions have distinctive uniforms, so why not teachers? However, a little probing, and the truth came tumbling out. The main purpose of the overcoat is to protect female teachers from the lustful gaze of testosterone-fueled adolescent male students. The official who briefed the press “reluctantly admitted that the proposal is also meant to address teachers’ complaints about indecent comments and peering glances by students, especially while writing on the blackboard.” A private school representative said the overcoat was introduced in his school “for twin reasons -– to bring in a common uniform for teachers and to fend off indecent glances towards teachers.”
However, there were a couple of dissenting notes from some quarters.
Deepa Santhosh, a higher secondary school teacher in an aided school for more than two decades, said there was no point in enforcing an artificial shield against students’ glances. “If anything, it will only further their curiosity. An overcoat is unfit in our climatic conditions. Besides, I have never come across any indecent behaviour from students during my career,” she said.
What is one to make of this? When I was in school, there were a few attractive teachers who would have turned heads anywhere. And, of course, many of us lusted after them and fell in love with them, which is how normal red-blooded adolescent boys would respond. How else would the species propagate? 🙂 My own favorite was a certain class teacher who had the kind of figure no overcoat could subdue: she was leggy, wonderfully busty, and wore clothes that showed her assets to advantage. Of course, we were discreet oglers, and there was nothing any teacher could object to. Even if someone went overboard, I’ve no doubt that a look from the teacher would have brought home to the overenthusiastic student the error of his ways. Deepa Santhosh is right: enveloping teachers in overcoats would only increase the curiosity of the students. There is nothing as alluring as forbidden fruit.
Besides, the entire concept of trying to shield our children — and ourselves — from our own sexuality has already irreparably damaged generations of Indians, who grew up ashamed of their bodies and their desire for the most natural pleasure of them all: consensual sex. Thankfully, the lid of repression is now being blown off. One consequence of this is the spike in the number of reports of sexual abuse of all kinds: teachers abusing students, fathers abusing daughters, servants being abused by their “masters,” employers abusing female employees, etc. Rapes are also being reported more frequently now. I attribute all this to the slow but steady peeling away of the taboo against sex, thanks to the liberalization of society. Girls are increasingly no longer afraid to complain about sexual harassment. The fear of the resulting societal stigma is losing its sting.
Recently, on our school alumni Facebook page, some recalled all the lovely teachers we had. A few admitted to crushes, others to raw lust. One individual even today seems smitten.
I’m reading the delectable Neither Nor There by Bill Bryson, and can fully empathize with this passage in it:
I had only signed up for German because it was taught by a walking wet dream named Miss Webster, who had the most magnificent breasts ever and buttocks that adhered to her skirt like melons in shrink wrap. Whenever Miss Webster stretched to write on the blackboard, eighteen adolescent boys would breathe hard and let their hands slip below the table.
Protecting teachers from the indecent and peering gaze? Please, let teachers and students sort it out among themselves and let not interfering officials rush in like gallant knights to the rescue.
Bundling the “problem” in overcoats is incredibly short-sighted; how will these salivating students deal with the normally dressed overcoat-less women they see outside the school? Our schools should be preparing their students for the world outside, not shielding them from it.