Talk of 'porn jihad' on Twitter shows how fear of the 'sexy other' is still being used to polarise the country

  • Deb’s argument was that a Muslim conspiracy is targeting Hindu women through amateur porn.

  • To those who point out that there are videos tagged with Muslim women-Hindu men combo, she is dismissive.

  • Deb lives deep inside troll land and often asks those tiresome ‘daring’ questions like who was Jesus’ daddy.

On 11 April, the BJP’s official Twitter handle reported party president Amit Shah as saying, “We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha (sic), Hindus and Sikhs.”

This is an election which is not just gloves off about communal agenda, it’s also an election in which you are likely to forget that there have ever been gloves. While the BJP is still using the tiniest of fig leaves like infiltration and the legitimacy of citizenship to evoke the promise of a Hindu nation, some right-leaning citizens have no patience for such tomfoolery.

On 8 April, Twitter user Poornima Nayak Deb — who on her timeline generally displays an undiluted dislike of Christians and Muslims — tweeted a long thread that began, “Though not a new thing & has always been a part of "Sex Jihad", "Porn Jihad" is becoming a trend among organized attacks on Hindu sentiments. But there's also a very alarming sinister plan beyond that. There's a psychological warfare hidden in this.”

Deb’s argument was that a Muslim conspiracy is targeting Hindu women through amateur porn. She shared screenshots of the videos, which she felt were typical of the scheme. They had titles such as ‘College Hindu Girl Sex with Muslim Boyfriend’ and ‘Desi Hindu Girl Having Rough Sex with Her BF Aamir’.

 Talk of porn jihad on Twitter shows how fear of the sexy other is still being used to polarise the country

Representational image. AFP

Deb says some of these videos are recorded without the consent of the woman and the others are fake in some way. She says, “Either way, a young girl new to her hormonal boosts & women in desperate conditions may view them as real inter-faith 'romance'."

Young women and ‘unsatisfied’ women are the two vulnerable populations in Deb’s scheme of things and she was ready to go to ‘patal lok’ to save them. What is the danger that Deb wanted to warn the world about? She was convinced that young Hindu girls and Muslim men were sexually attracted towards their sworn enemy through these videos. Deb wanted the police to get involved to take these videos offline.

Much like Regina’s response in Mean Girls when Gretchen tried to make ‘fetch’ happen, the popular response to Deb was ‘stop trying’. A lot of hecklers stopped with the low-hanging fruit of mocking her for watching porn and others asking her what VPN she was using to access these sites. (A smaller subplot emerged when folks began sharing screenshots indicating that a desi porn account on Twitter had changed its handle to chowkidar). For most part, the ‘discussion’ became the regular ancestors/ricebags/conversion/invaders bingo game. You didn’t have to be there.

While Deb started her thread by acknowledging the truth of the 'sexy other', she and those who agree with the premise of 'porn jihad' mostly wallow in the fear of the 'sexy other'. So, the thread devolves rapidly from expressing anxiety that Hindu women would be tempted by what they see online to get involved with Muslim men all the way down to a full-fledged apocalypse in which she knows, knows for sure, that so many Hindu girls have committed suicide because of their Muslim boyfriends making revenge porn.

To those who point out that there are videos tagged with Muslim woman-Hindu men combo, she is dismissive, convinced that the scale does not compare and more importantly, Muslim women are not committing suicide from fear of such treatment from Hindu men. And soon, Deb is stuck in a vicious loop of saying over and over again to all her detractors that her desire is to save only Hindu women. So if you are some sort of random person concerned about issues of consent in general, please, takhliya.

Save Hindu women from what though? Early on in the thread, one would imagine Deb wants to save them from the danger of good sex or even just sexual yearning based on what they might see online. Then, there is a smaller thread that asserts, needless to say without any evidence, that the Muslims are using revenge porn to make money. And Deb makes some throwaway mention of organised mafia. In a while, Deb’s thread collapses into a sort of familiar glutinous upma of loss from whence even Hinduism, not just our Hindu sisters, cannot be rescued.

But in these joyless and sexless times, we should be grateful to Deb for what she says early on — the universal truth that the other is hot. And sometimes too hot. Sometimes, it is merely a mild erotic frisson of the sort that older Mills & Boon romances banked on for their white readership. The dark Spaniard hero never had any political charge. The Arab hero could always occasionally brutally kidnap the English rose but some stuff remains taboo.

Contemporary romance publishers still keep African-American protagonists walled away, as this recent Guardian report reveals. In our highly polarised desi context, it is both universal truth and universal fear that the Muslim is hot. For a sizzling, non-toxic pop culture representation of this truth/fear, I will refer you (over and over again, sisters) to Shah Rukh Khan’s Muharram scene in Raees. When I watched the scene, I could not help but remember a glittering public event in Delhi years ago at which I saw SRK respond to the Sexy Muslim subtext. Someone asked about his six-pack, he flashed his abs and then said to the person who asked the question. “This interview can continue if you like. I can show you what a Muslim looks like on the inside.” O Eros, O Thanatos.

Deb lives deep inside troll land and often asks those tiresome ‘daring’ questions like who was Jesus’ daddy. But nevertheless, we should be grateful to her for raising this supposedly frivolous topic smack in the middle of our oh-so-solemn election season. Amit Shah may hope to keep his friends close by promising to drive out all ‘infiltrators’ but Deb knows that even Shah can’t help with the rawest of fears, that the bad minorities may infiltrate (harder, harder, faster, faster) our sexual imaginations and make the majority look rather boring.

The Ladies Finger is India’s leading digital feminist magazine.

Updated Date: Apr 13, 2019 09:19:03 IST