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The Dirty Picture or how not to be a Porngate hypocrite

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.

Reuters

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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In the pre-intermission climax of the Bollywood film “The Dirty Picture,” based loosely on the life of the late actress Silk Smitha, Silk delivers a powerful speech to a film industry audience.

“You call me ghatia, sexy, dirty. … But it’s you who make sex films, sell them, watch them, distribute them so others can watch, even give awards for them.”  (Here she brandishes her golden statuette award before the audience.) “Don’t worry.  I’m going now.  But I won’t leave you alone. I will go on making your dirty pictures, and I will go on showing people your dirty secret.”

Personally, I’m not interested in being or having a dirty secret. I like having a dirty, filthy, fulfilling real life.

I know there is confusion out there.  You see it in #porngate and every other time a sex scandal rises to the surface:  mass confusion and debate about what, exactly, the problem is.  Is it that they were doing the naughty thing, or that they were caught? Or was it where they were doing it and on whose time? Was it sex that someone enjoyed, or was it rape? Which is worse? Who was turned on, and when did they know it?

In all this confusion, no one seems to understand the right way to handle sexuality and its stories. The problem is, if you talk one way and act the other, you will always be confused.

When it comes to sexuality, there is only one rule to living to a non-hypocritical life.  Repeat after me:  It is ok to have and enjoy sex.  Really.

By sex, I don’t mean “only within marriage,” “only in the missionary position,” “only if you are a heterosexual man,” etcetera.  I mean that all expressions of sexuality between consenting adults are 100% acceptable and healthy.

The key word above is “consenting.”  By consent, I don’t mean “she dressed like she wanted it,” or “he didn’t actually say no before I put it in him,” or “she needed medicine for her kid so she said yes to the money.”   I mean that you are 100% sure that the other person is 100% passionately excited about being there, doing that, with you.

And that includes pornography.  Generally speaking, you can tell when you’re watching whether the people want to be there or not.   If you have any doubt, you can look for films and clips with the names of porn stars who have clearly taken charge of their own business.  You can tell because they give interviews, and they talk about their work without a sense of shame.

Besides Anjali, women like Priya Rai, Poonam Pandey, and Sunny Leone are making a name — and loads of cash — for themselves.  And for fans of vintage shake-and-wiggle, there’s always Silk Smitha.  As her Vidya Balan filmi avatar says:

“You feel you can’t watch my films with your family. But watching my films in secret, you’re inspired to make bigger families!”

Those are my kind of family values.

M Svairini writes naughty stories online and can be followed slavishly at http://www.twitter.com/msvairini . 

Independence Day