By Aneesha Puri
We live in an absurdly funny country almost cynically obsessed with marriages and procreation and visibly uncomfortable in any serious sex talk as if marriages are about everything but sex! Of course all this surface prudery is embedded with an awareness of the inevitability of sex in some form or the other (not to forget the explicitly subversive wedding folk songs with lyrics that can still make one blush red in twenty first century). But how do we deal with sex in dominantly acceptable discourses and platforms ? The only normatively comfortable way of dealing with sex is apparently by conceptualising it as a ‘procreation instrument’ which gets the morally responsible label of ‘duty’ or if it is outside the confines of socially, culturally and legally sanctioned marriage, it gets irredeemably branded as sin or crime(depending on whether the moralising impulse arises from socio-religious or legal discourse respectably). A country which apparently takes pride in its ‘morals’, ‘values’ denoted by the umbrella word ‘Sanskar’, (which thankfully the Alok Nath memes have ridiculed beyond redemption) cannot afford to indulge in socially irresponsible and consensually pleasurable sex. It is either forced or call of duty, because unless one wants to lose the tag of ‘social respectability’, he or she (obviously more problematic if She than He) will not do it for what is proudly proclaimed by the French as ‘Jouissance’ or at least will not claim the doing of it.
The last few weeks bore witness to a series of politicians indulging in sex talk on social platforms. Let’s take a look:-
Madhu Kishwar on twitter “My rage & revulsion against Kejri-Yadav team as visceral as that of child witnessing gang rape of her mother. AAP set up to rape Mother India.”
A senior member of India’s Socialist Party, Abu Azmi, said ‘Rape is punishable by hanging in Islam but here, nothing happens to women, only to men. Even the woman is guilty. Any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman goes by consent.’
The party’s leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, made an argument saying that men who were convicted of rape should be forgiven as ‘boys will be boys’. ‘Following a girl-boy fight, the girl complains she was raped.’
What binds these three statements together, apart from politicians and wannabe political leaders trying to outdo each other in crassness and misogyny? The overwhelming rape metaphor! Perhaps the only way sex can be comfortably talked about as per the dominant socio-political Indian mentality is something of a threat or force and never as consensual pleasure. Not to forget the renaming of Valentine’s Day as ‘Parent’s Worship Day’ in 2012 by the self-styled spiritual guru Asaram(now arrested for allegations of rape) and supported in his endeavour by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda, former Himachal Pradesh chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and many other senior political leaders as an effective measure to guard ‘Indian culture’ and ‘heritage’. This also raises the complexities of homogenising the vastly variegated Indian cultural systems, but that aside, the plain horror of acknowledging consensual sexual love is blatantly conspicuous. (India is celebrated as the land of Kama Sutra, that’s another story). It is high time, a realisation dawned upon the proud upholders of puritanical sexual prudery, as to how ridiculous and syllogistically flawed their arguments and attempts look in preserving the quintessential ‘Indianness’.
Aneesha Puri is pursuing her Masters in English Literature from Miranda House. A self-confessed book- ravisher , keen surveyor of society and its ideological politics, loves deconstructing and decoding anything and everything that even remotely concerns people, ranging from celebrated, canonical literary texts to popular cinema and advertisements. Her idea of utopia is a truly emancipated world which allows everyone, unfettered freedom to foster his/ her potential to the maximum.