by M. Svairini
Confession: I have sex. I watch porn on the Internet and on film. I write erotic stories, I’ve stripped for audiences, and, so far, I’ve acted in one film that could be considered “blue.” I talk about the sex I have and the sex I want to have and the sex I think is hot.
This makes me a lawbreaker in some places, but not a hypocrite. And if you don’t want to be a sexual hypocrite either (listen up, Karnataka state legislators), if you don’t want to keep on colluding with a nation of hypocrites, read on.
Warning: It will be an uphill battle.
All over India, at this very moment, thousands of boys and men and even some women are huddled over mobile phones and laptops, or sitting in internet cafes or at their office computers, watching porn.
In the urban epicenters, crores of rupees are trading hands in order to shoot, edit, market, and distribute “blue” films. Businessmen watch pay-per-view porn delivered by satellite from their five-star hotel beds. In each of India’s 5,500 cities and towns, men know which vendors keep an under-the-counter stash of illicit DVDs.
And in the Karnataka legislature, three men watching porn on a mobile phone were forced to resign. There are reports that 40 more lawmakers may have passed around the dirty picture.
In their defense, the men have claimed they weren’t watching porn; they were watching a rape. That, apparently, is supposed to be better.
Today in India, hypocrisy is the only moral constant. The shamed politicians belong to a right wing that has vociferously asserted anti-sex “family values” in India in recent years. But the opposition, which in its outrage about “defiling the Temple of Democracy” has called for criminal charges to be filed against the phone-wankers, suffers no shortage of its own sex scandals. Everyone is appalled and shocked by sex and porn; no one has ever, you know, apparently enjoyed it.
Blame, if you want, Queen Victoria. It was her men who wrote our first obscenity laws. Back on their cold little island, the British now embrace most of what they once criminalised in the colonies. Pornographers, like everyone else in the UK, possess a right to free speech that covers everything except the most “extreme” sex acts.
But here in the former Jewel in the Crown, Victorian hypocrisy lives on. Brown sahibs carry on their former masters’ work, criminalising sexuality and shaming its many expressions. They sit in government offices or organise street protests or come on television to deliver longwinded speeches about morals.
And these moral guardians, too, watch porn.
Somehow, Indians have forsworn their older heritage of sexual choice. Somehow, we have decided that freedom of speech does not extend to the freedom to go beyond titillation. Authors routinely sign contracts guaranteeing that they have not written anything obscene or profane. People who want to make work about sexuality do so underground, in secret, by paying bribes, or by going overseas.
At the same time, sex and the consumption of sexual content is widespread. As Delhi-born sexpot Anjali — well known to fans of Bangkok porn — says, “I think I am and was way better than those hypocritical girls who look homely and docile but live secret lives of sin.”
Countries where sexual hypocrisy runs deep, love sex scandals. In India our sexual hypocrisy runs especially deep. So India’s response is even more heated. The reported mobs of impromptu protesters in Karnataka are not composed, surely, of cold-blooded young men who have never looked at or been titillated by pornography. At least some of the journalists frothing over the story are surely aficionados themselves. They aren’t morally outraged; they are excited. A scandal gives everyone an excuse to talk and think and write about sex, while keeping absolutely quiet about their own desires.
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