Lipstick Under My Burkha, Sunny Leone: Why is India so afraid of sexuality and women who have sex?

My mother was one of those who was most excited to watch Lipstick Under My Burkha, a film heralded for its unabashed portrayal of sex. She enjoyed the film for the most bit, but to her dismay, in one particular scene where Ratna Pathak Shah's character is thrown out of the house for enjoying erotica, the young men sitting in the seats behind her laughed out loud.

Later, in a conversation she had with a male friend about the film, he told her that he would not be watching it because a relative said it was "not for him". The next day, another friend remarked that it was entirely a "blue film" (pornography).

But she isn't the only one whose movie-going experience was dampened by such comments and reactions. Many people, and women in particular, have voiced concerns over the inappropriate reactions and crude comments that they noticed while watching the film. They have reported instances of people passing moral judgments, making lewd comments and even laughing at the scenes depicting marital rape.

Snippets from Lipstick Under My Burkha.

Either these people don't understand that the film is dealing with problematic issues, or they've missed the point of it entirely.

It is not fair to say that Lipstick Under My Burkha has failed in these instances. If you or someone you know watched the film and felt uncomfortable because of what you saw on screen, the film has actually succeeded. On the other hand, when people deem the film pornographic or say that they will not watch it, they are, in essence, saying that they cannot bear the thought of women having sex.

But when has India not been scared of women who like sex and choose to have it?

Sunny Leone recently adopted a baby girl with her husband. Many applauded her for adopting a child instead of having one, but that conversation was overshadowed by people saying that a porn star should not be allowed to adopt a child, because the child's future would be at risk. Some even claimed that this was the actress' way of improving her image.

We just cannot think of Sunny Leone as having a personality minus her pornstar past, and this past comes with a negative connotation, even if Sunny doesn't view it that way.

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi recently expressed her views about the azaan in a manner similar to Sonu Nigam. We're all aware of how Nigam was at the receiving end of profanities and death threats, but the reaction to Krishnamoorthi was different; she also received rape threats and was slut-shamed. People questioned why she came home at 4 am, even labeling her a call girl. When you think about it, there is no connection whatsoever between the comment she made and the reaction she received. This slut shaming is the result of the attitude that sexual women are bad women — because they have sex.

suchitra

Suchitra Krishnamoorthy's tweet that lead to her being slut-shamed.

To add to this list of casual misogyny, is the case of cringe-pop sensation Dhinchak Pooja, who has garnered quite some hate on the Internet because of her songs. She has been 'advised' by several men to prostitute herself instead of singing songs. The logic is that there is no use for a woman who cannot prove her worth and talent, except her body.

The reactions Lipstick Under My Burkha received reminds me of the I Will Go Out campaign, which was fueled by the angry reaction to the Bengaluru molestation. A friend was covering the event, where masses of women and men gathered in public places to dispel the notion that women shouldn't go out at night "for their own safety". When she arrived, she noticed that everybody present had the same liberal mindset as her. Nobody turned up to stop them from protesting

The problem is this: anti-patriarchal and anti-sexist messages are not reaching the people who propagate these ideologies (perhaps this article is another example of this).

They are discussed and debated over by people who are already fighting against them, rather than the people whose mindsets need to be changed. This creates an echo chamber of sorts, giving us the impression that change is taking place, when in fact, those who think differently continue to do so.

India is disgusted by women who have sex and enjoy it too, and does not hesitate to censure them. Real change will take place only when female desire gains acceptance.


Published Date: Jul 27, 2017 05:35 pm | Updated Date: Jul 27, 2017 05:39 pm


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