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?