Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sex is not such a bad thing. And neither are strip clubs

There, do I have your attention now? Good, because the rest of this entry is about algebra.
    Hah, got you!
    Why I'm writing again is because I visited a strip club last week. Not my first visit, may I add, but being there as a customer is definitely nothing like being there as a reporter who's trying to be all business-like.
    Because for starters, I could actually stare. And second, I could get out when I wanted to.
    So that was that, and apart from the initial 10 minutes of ickiness, we all eased into the ambience pretty well, and was at home enough to compliment a dancer on her shoes, and reject a lap dance.
    And no, I'm not going to give you a blow by blow account of their routines. You get your own trip for that. Or read Savita Bhabhi or whatever. Basically, look elsewhere because what I would actually want to do here is make some observations, as always.
    1. Didn't Bernard Shaw ask whoever looks at beauty when it's been around for three days? Make it 30 minutes. The rule still holds, and equally well for everything from the nice painting you paid a bomb for, to SRK (yeah I met him once when I was in college) to naked women. None of us said the experience was life altering, all captivating, or even that big a deal. And yes that includes the man in the group. His wife appreciated the lingerie, my other friend liked how fit the dancers were and I, well, complimented one girl on her shoes.
    2. When I was over the gaping, I noted how controlled the environment was in the lounge/bar. Not one person misbehaving, not one unwanted or unsolicited comment or even gaze. If you want some action, you pay and you get it. If you don't, no one will bother you. One might argue that the big bouncers have that effect on people, but hey, it is a dark room and the bouncers aren't everywhere. Plus, the men who were getting dances were not allowed to touch the girls, and I actually saw one poor person's hands go up and then him willing them back on the couch. Couldn't help but feel bad for him, poor bloke. I really did think it comes from people trying to behave by themselves. I mean if external control stopped men and women from misbehaving, why would we have weirdoes touching themselves in a crowded bus?
    3. Which brings me to the real reason why I am writing this. Sex and sexuality is so very oppressed in the society I come from, it is really ridiculous. And it is refreshing to see a change from my norm. And this extends way beyond strip clubs into everyday living.
     Most Asian families I know behave like the very concept of sex does not even exist, and yet we give birth to more and more children every passing year. I mean sure I am happy that society has cast some rules that people are expected to follow.
    A free rein sounds cool, but think about it-- would you like to be the person who is not really sure of who your father is, just because no one can tell? Call me a prude, but I like to know where I come from. I also like the fact that I get to decide who I want to be with, and no one has the right to force/persuade me if I don't want them. And that in the current social framework, all sensible men accept that. Or I've just been lucky.
    But does that mean we turn a total blind eye to the very fact that men and women have some urges and that it is needed that they satisfy some of it? Mostly to stop them from turning  to be weirdoes that get kicks from throwing themselves at random strangers in public areas?
    Think about that man I just described at the bar. That he could freely walk in and buy his dance probably saved New York City one sexual offender.
    And what is the other option anyway? Fine, we as Indians (my favorite sample, because I know us the best) won't accept that our children have any physical desires, so we don't allow "dates" and if we are really that stuck up, we don't even allow free mingling of both sexes. Do we even look around us?
    Each public park that I have been to in India is a make-out spot for teenagers and sadly, even older people to various degrees and at different times of the day. We are generally still not at home with kissing in public, but we accept the fact that grown men and women can slip their hands inside each other's clothes at places where children can watch, under the safety net of an umbrella. An umbrella!
     I appreciate cultural differences, and I subscribe to the idea of not everyone needs to be "Westernised". But why is it that while we have no trouble accepting Coca Cola, mini skirts, Hollywood movies and even foreign accents, we can't man up and accept this one true fact of life? One of us did write the Kamasutra, did he not?
    I have seen parents being extremely protective about their children-- no boys/girls, no late nights, no sleepovers, no nothing. And I know for a fact that ALL of those protected children have consistently done all of it, but without telling their parents.
    Or, the one chance they could try out "freedom", they went totally overboard leaving the rest of us to clean up after them. Literally and metaphorically. Concept of freedom lost, and concept of self restraint totally done away with. Not funny. Especially since these very boys and girls grow up to be men and women and still do the same. Why else would 50 year old men throw up after drinking too much at parties? Most people across the world would agree that the throwing up stage comes and goes with your teens.
     At 50, or for that matter even at 30, you need to know how to hold your drink. Or how to control your hand that "slips" below your lady dancing partner's waist or rubs against her in such a way that you can't tell if if was deliberate or not. Why do people do that? Here are my guesses:
    A. Because they do not know that there is another way of propositioning. That you can actually talk about it without being sleazy.
    B. Because how can you ask! It is so "isss chee chee". Or because even if one did ask, there are very few people that will say "at least s/he was upfront and respected my decision of going with it/not going with it." Most will say "OMG, can you believe what s/he did?" And the honest person gets branded a philanderer for life. So let us just molest each other and pretend nothing happened.
    From what I understand, on a deeper level, this culture of having a fake respectability also breeds a more dangerous culture of lying. I mean, because most parents won't say "yes, I am ok that you have a boyfriend at 16" even if they are and even if they know it is really normal, in a twisted manner, they force their children to lie.
    Were you with that girl? No mama. Is aunty lying? Maybe mama. Where were you? In the coaching class that was never actually scheduled for that day and so on and so forth till meddlesome local boys find the young kids fornicating under the slide in the park and raise hell. 
    The park keeps coming back, sorry about that.
    Wouldn't you rather these kids had some chance at normal mingling under some supervision than be forced to hide in dark alleys? I know a 8 year old that was introduced to pornography by a 13 something year old. In India, in a decent, bhadralok middleclass environment. So the naiveté of "our children are not like that" is lost on me. Every children is like that, ignore the English.
    Having siblings and cousins that are as much as 15 years younger has its benefits-- I am unusually up to date on the latest in teen and tween town. And take my word for it: 14 and above year olds in mid to big cities in India not only have sex, smoke, and generally do whatever their parents think can never be done, they also do it under the constant pressure of not letting people find out. Which equals to lying 24 X 7.
    (I add my usual caveat here: not everyone does it, and I did not conduct an official poll. But I do know that the percentage is rising, through first hand accounts and anecdotes.)
    You think I am exaggerating? I am not.
    Now give me the argument that not having any control or rules will only create a mess of everyone. Yes, I agree, but the point never was to do away with all kinds of rules and regulations. The point is to do away with rules that are so far removed from reality that you would think those who come up with them never lived on planet Earth as we know it.
     So do I have to sleep with someone just because they want it, because we are cool like that, and society won't disapprove and/or I want to one-up them? Hell no.
    But should people be able to do it if/when they both want to without fearing the collective raised eyebrows of everyone they knowl? "Yes" seems to be the only logical answer, does it not?
And that begs the question: is it so bad then, to pay for it? 


Koustav Samanta said...

loved reading it... awsumm stuff... keep 'em coming ! :)

kaushik said...

as much as I loved reading this, I dont really find this a very argumentative topic. " sex is bad " who thinks like that ? let me shift the discussion to the other question that you have asked about sex being a huge taboo in indian society..well thats a disease that we have to really get over. hav read numerous articles abt the various reasons for this, but in the end i believe we are largely responsible too. Have i discussed about sex with my younger cousins ? No, I haven't ( unless u mean by cracking the once ina while stupid jokes). Personally I will not be very comfortable if my mom asks me in the morning " so how was last night!!! maybe with girls it can be different since they are more close to their moms.But if her question is whether I have sex with someone or whether I have been to strip club or not, yeah I dont hav any problem in telling the truth. Well, however much we shout and blog, these things will not changing in India in anytime soon. yesterday i just watched a TV show where Karnataka and rajasthan CM are planning to make the pubs women free after 9. The reason is to stop their molestation. you think strip club culture will manage to survive here?

Sahil Wadhwa said...

Good stuff N

Krishnakali said...

Wonderful read and if I have to add something I must say that the contradiction or the hypocrisy surrounding it arises from our (India’s) epic diversity and a long history of controlling the mass – be it in the form of religion or in the name of tradition. We must also remember the history of contradictory rulership our country has witnessed. People are confused about which tradition or culture to adapt to. The good thing however is, that people like us, do understand it and accept that there is a disconnect. Changes are bound to happen – just like ‘divorce’ that was considered a taboo even a decade back, but is now so common. Till then let’s keep it simple and keep it all about love :)

Keep writing!

Soham Chatterjee said...

Loved it! I share the same opinions as you do. SOMEBODY had to say it. The sheer hypocrisy when it comes to expression of sexuality in our society is just mind-numbing. You've mentioned teens and even older couples making out in parks. I think the reason why we encounter such scenes is because our society doesn't respect individual privacy and space in our homes. I remember a friend telling me that when he was a teenager his mom/dad would freak out if he kept the door of his room closed except he was changing clothes! What makes the situation worse is that guys are given far more freedom while the activities of girls' outside their homes are tightly controlled. This is the environment shapes attitudes of men and women toward each other in those years when their sexual consciousness is maturing. It's a shame that people who have the scantest idea about Indian culture and history take it upon themselves to police and pass judgement on others' morals and decide on what defines Indian culture. The biggest mistake Indian parents make is that they leave it to others to inform their children on matters pertaining to sexuality and sexual health which perpetuates ignorance, wrong attitudes and hypocrisy.

phoenix said...

Very nice!

Pratik said...

As far as the taboo part is concerned, I support you sister. But I don't think visiting a strip club can be discussed with that issue. It needs a separate discussion.

Nivedita said...

Thanks guys. I particularly wanted some of your opinion-- glad you wrote. Kaushik, people like you and me won't say it is "bad". I meant it to say it isn't taboo.

gourav said...

@Kaushik: "so how was last night!!!" That's not the point. The point is whether your parents are cool with the fact that you had sex while they were sleeping in the next room. Nice gesture is enough, asking question will be going overboard.

@ the Author: "His wife appreciated the lingerie, my other friend liked how fit the dancers were and I, well, complimented one girl on her shoes" The all important question is, did that guy take the lap dance? If no, then either he is afraid of his wife or just finds it too difficult to control his "emotions" (if i can say that).

@all: Enough of blaming the society. bygones are bygones. What remains to be seen is what role do you play when you have your child?

I only wonder if God instead of saying "Let there be Light" had said "Let there be sex", would then our oppressed society behaved in a different manner?

anwesha thinking said...

well sex is a part of life...
there is nothing like OH MY GOD...U HAD SEX ?? in it....
its nothing to be ashamed of....
well i believe whatever we do, we should enjoy doing it....
same with sex provided we are actually ready for it....
sex is no offence as long as it is not forced....and it is important to have safe sex...USE CONDOMS...

Nivedita said...

@ gourav: or he decided it was not worth it and did not see that big a deal in it.

Duishtu said...
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Dushtu said...

To be true, I really don't have the patience to read something this long. Usually I skip reading the long text messages that I receive(even if they are engrossing) but I was kind of hallucinated while I was reading this blog of your's. It's not a big deal in today's life if someone smoke, booze or have sex, but still elders don't like it. People still find it 'bad' if a girl drinks or smokes. We are grown ups now, and can decide what to do and what not. They say sex education should be introduced in colleges. I mean common, you should teach the 6th standard guys about it, definitely not the college guys. Our parents need to understand the fact that we are not kids anymore who listen to fairy tales before dozing off to sleep. To be true, those parents who restrict their children from everything or the other are the ones who become restless and do things without letting their parents know about it. Being a 20 years old guy, trust me I know guys/girls of our age don't just put an end after bumming a fag, boozing, or after making out. They do a lot more than that. We get to vote, get a driving license, even can get married as soon as we turn 18, but it's not legal to drink if you are not of 25 years or above. WOW !!
To sum up, actually am lucky to have a sister like you and thank god my parents are not like the ones mentioned above. I won't say they are totally like the western parents, but yes again they are not orthodox!! Things that you wrote actually happen. Loved reading it :)

IamwhatIamnot said...

Observation Number 1) You have a natural gift of language. The blog reads really well.

Observation Number 2) "I mean if external control stopped men and women from misbehaving, why would we have weirdoes touching themselves in a crowded bus?" - Very true as a theoretical deduction. But if you applied this to practical truths, it is more complex than that. Will not go into detail, but will only put forth two simple arguments. a) Occurrence of sexual perversion varies in degree depending on the social structure. Sometimes, it might be a bit simplistic to assume that such perversion does not exist in a given society because it is not glaringly apparent in social behaviour. And b) I believe that the kind of sexual perversion that leads to sexual assaults in crowded buses and deserted streets is born out of a chauvinstic urge to violate, and therefore dominate, and not primarily out of repressed sexual desire.

(well, more to follow, of course)

IamwhatIamnot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IamwhatIamnot said...

Observation Number 3) "And that in the current social framework, all sensible men accept that. Or I've just been lucky." - Yes, you have been lucky :)

IamwhatIamnot said...

Observation Number 4) "Because how can you ask! It is so "isss chee chee". Or because even if one did ask, there are very few people that will say "at least s/he was upfront and respected my decision of going with it/not going with it." Most will say "OMG, can you believe what s/he did? And the honest person gets branded a philanderer for life" So let us just molest each other and pretend nothing happened."
- Absolutely agree with this one. What would I not have given for a man who could ask, straight, 'will you sleep with me?' and handle both the 'yes' and the 'no' with equal dignity, and without any dent in his respect either for me or for himself.

IamwhatIamnot said...

"From what I understand, on a deeper level, this culture of having a fake respectability also breeds a more dangerous culture of lying." - Agree again. You know, I will never be able to tell my parents exactly how many men I have slept with. Because 'they will not be able to take it'. In a saner world, that would be their problem, not mine.

IamwhatIamnot said...

Observation Number 6)
"And that begs the question: is it so bad then, to pay for it?" - Of course it is not bad. Not bad at all. It is actually a good idea. But it is inconvenient for coalition politics, middle-class happy family, Bollywood and 'aam admi' vote banks to admit that it is, indeed, a good idea.

P.S. : Will not comment any more. Realize have started writing a blog myself through comments. Not good for my reputation as a lazy sod. Oh, if you've been wondering, if, that is, this is Adheesha Sarkar :) But then again, HOW can you be wondering. I know you are clever ;)

Nivedita said...
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Nivedita said...

and that is exactly the reason why you were among the few people I thought should totally share their thoughts, Adheesha. I agree to your case for the show of sexual dominance. But I will still say there is some kind of repression that fuels it. If the man just wanted to "put the woman in her place", they could just beat her up. I know they stem from the same play of dominance you are talking about. The reason why people stone a woman is frightfully the same as why they rape her -- a show of dominance. But if they at least had some kind of sexual freedom, some of it could be avoided

IamwhatIamnot said...

that's correct. but then, if people in certain societies had sexual freedom, the inherent power play wouldn't be there as compellingly. These two things are connected. In India, as in some other countries, the body of a woman is seen as a sort of shrine. 'honour'. The ego of society rests on it. It is everyone but the woman's property. there is a sense of collective ownership. you want to take revenge on someone? rape his daughter. an army occupies a territory. rapes the women. here, the factor of sexual repression is nominal. but yes, if you trace it to the roots, it all starts there. sexually repressed people make up a sexually fettered society where the power play is through sex. ridiculous how women 'innocently' pour milk on the 'shib-linga'. Can it be that they have never noticed something SO obvious? Indians are actually far too obsessed with sex and 'kinked' if you like, than other races. which is why talking about it becomes so difficult, I guess.

Nivedita said...

I have ALWAYS wondered how people do not notice or realise the siva linga symbolism. And that says how open and non-nyeka, if you will, our culture was originally. But yeah, now it is all about the fast and the milk I guess. And kinked is right. Countries that are more closed have worse examples, I remember reading a Reader's Digest first hand account of a woman who lived through pre-Taliban and Taliban Afghanistan. You can imagine what the account was like, but that supports your thesis

Suhel Banerjee said...

Very impressive. Will keep coming back for more.

Joe Pinto said...

My dear Nivedita,

Thank u for openly discussing a taboo topic in a fair and tolerant mammer, without getting too up-tight.

I am proud to have u as one of my most sincere and honest students. And I love the way ur sincerity and honesty shines through here throughout this post.

I wish u had planned it out and organised it a little bit. Maybe then it would have spread itself over two or three posts.

But I admire your guts to take up a topic like sex and sexuality.

May I suggest a book - "Against Our Will" by Susan Brownmiller. And a blog The Life and Times of an Indian Home Maker.


Peace and love,
- Joe.

Nivedita said...

Thanks so much, Joe Sir! It means a lot, coming from you.

Suhel-- you are most welcome

where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..

where the mind is without fear and the head is held high..