A depressing discussion I had with a cousin of mine made me ponder about something that I had been thinking about for quite sometime now- the subtle but all-pervasive role that sexuality plays in the lives of average Indians. We might all be greatly influenced by the centuries of conservative Muslim and Victorian cultural influences and try to brush the issue down the carpet- much unlike the aware and uninhibited Ancients who spoke and discussed sex as part of normal seminal or religious discourse. But this apart, the undercurrents and innuendos do lead us to the ‘basics’. This is perhaps most amply seen in the kind of lingo that especially the Northerners indulge in- almost every second sentence is an invocation to the organs! The concept of the Linga or the giant Phallus in the being of Shiva who is identified with the ultimate male machismo , the concept of Ardha-Nareeshwara or half man-half woman or the ease with which Vishnu kept changing roles of a man to a beautiful nymphet in the role of Mohini- the seductress (who knows if it was an allegory to being a transvestite?) and of course not to mention the much bandied and talked about Khajurahos and Vatsyayanas of the country!---all point to one definitive fact ; that sexuality and matters related to it do matter to Indians in a manner and magnitude bigger than they portray or try to conceal! Like it or not, when it comes to these matters, we are a nation full of hypocrites who indulge shamelessly in the art, which has perfected over centuries of dramatics!
Coming back to my hapless cousin, the fact that she couldn’t bear a child after many years of marriage wrecked havoc with her domestic and marital life. She was made to undergo all the tortures therein to become ‘eligible’ enough…but sadly for her husband, the medical reports seemed to point fingers at him….and that is something that no Indian male would ever like to discuss or acknowledge. An attack on his virility or talks of his ‘incompetence’ make him feel like a wasted piece of shit- like all there is to life is procreation and bearing children! That’s where the funda of sexuality and the concepts of male hegemony therein assume importance in a purely Indian context. Even now with all our advancements and the rest, its ultimately the woman who gets blamed for a girl child, for infertility and for just about anything related to matters of sex. Talk the same to a man and presto! Veritable hell shall break loose! I’m no feminist for Heaven’s sake, but at the same time, im not the typical Yem-Cee-Pee either!!! After all as educated people, don’t we need to have some biology on our meninges?
India and Indians have a long way to go before we shed this superficial and hypocritical Islamic and Victorian veil of piety! Also the numerous sexual stereotypes that society churns out- a man is supposed to be hard hearted and never allowed to shed tears, if he does- whispers of ‘may be something is amiss somewhere’ abound….even as a kid, a boy is taught not to cry in public, chiding and ridiculing him to be so effeminate if he ever did so! as a teenager, its considered good and macho enough for him to take part in every damn sport under the sun; but fine arts or anything that has 'sensitivity' attached to it--is a strict NO-NO! Then ofcourse, with age all the preoccupations with the 'size' and the rest catches up with our poor lad! If this is how society expects a 'MAN" to be, why blame poor him when he takes it his birth right to be boorish, crude and catch every passer-by woman on street as his rightful object of lust?? its after all decades of upbringing and social conditioning that has led to him to do what he does...moreover all these images of machismo, I guess put immense pressure on the Indian male as well, as much as the repression affects the female. the 'pressures of performance' and that too all the time seem to bog him down eternally!
Well, when we cant treat the so-called ‘better-half’ of the species in a befitting manner, I don’t even want to imagine about the condition of the so-called sexual-minorities in India! I think this is one country of nincompoops where films like ‘Fire’ get shouted down by supposed protectors of ‘culture’ saying ‘Homosexuality is against Indian Culture’ (boo!hoo!)…not to mention the pitiable state of those chaps we derisively call ‘Hijras’ and ‘chakkas’ who torture us at every railways station or traffic signal in cities like Mumbai- for sheer lack of any other opportunity at employment. Why should the presence or lack of an organ, lead to them being shunned from society that way? Is the presence a pre-requisite for intelligence, to work in, say, a hi-fi software company?? Would a eunuch fare any less if he/she took calls in a BPO? have we ever given the idea a chance, a try? Isn’t this the reason why many companies resort to the crazy idea of a medical examination before recruiting new employees, where a doctor strips you down to see if you have it ‘all’ well-packaged!? So doesn’t it then lead us to the same idea that i was talking about before, of sexuality being the core of our lives, the raison de’tre of our existence if one could use that term?
Yet each time we smirk and shrug it off when confronted by it. Each time our children ask us questions, we try to look the other way….each time we nominate buffoons to sit and censor our movies and monitor our channels—like in this age of Information and the power of the Internet, anything at all can be kept concealed for long enough from our kids! No wonder the alarming increase in the number of rapes, the cases of AIDS and the rest—simply because of our ignorance and also our reluctance to take corrective actions!
Reminds me of an age-old anecdote about how parents keep the facts off their kids doing them more harm than good in the process, but then they simply don’t know whom they are trying to fool. A kiddo goes to his dad and asks him how he was born…an obviously embarrassed father decided that the stork and bees story was a better alternative to the sperm and ovary funda and told him with a straight face about how the stork had come over and delivered him at their window sill or so. The bewildered kid asked the dad how he was born and the dad, with the same straight face repeated that the same stork visited his parents…the kid went back the family tree to his grandparents and great grandparents… and the father, very patiently blamed it all on the same jobless god-damn stork! At the end of it all, with an extremely dejected face kiddo-Sam replied ‘What a pity! Four generations of our family never enjoyed the pleasures of sex!”