Saturday, December 12, 2015

Varied Varieties

India is not a sexually frank country, nor it is a country which is good to people who are just, frank and truthful.

 Now when I make that statement hundred people will be ready to hurl shoes at me. Or have discussions about me, about how I have no 'sanskriti' or 'sanskar' or whatever we love to spew when it comes to our hard core reality. India is a country where no one accepts they like to have sex, no one accepts they like to watch porn, no one accepts they are sexual beings with genitals. India is a country where no one accepts their reality. We get offended by our own reality, by our thoughts which are sexually active. Funnily, even our 'traditions', the 'sanskriti' which is hurled on people when they accept who they are, do not direct us to be so hypocritical. Our country gave the world Kamasutra, Khajuraho, and is one of the highese porn watching country. Why? When one can't accept their reality publicly, they are bound to fulfill their desires vicariously. Or in our country by raping someone else. Sounds too harsh? Anything that makes you uncomfortable, makes you think about the greatness of the country and how everything is going against this very greatness, know that it is your and everyone's reality. India is a country which does not know how to laugh at itself. It is a 10 year old kid who likes to blame the kid next door for a mistake it did, who takes offense and starts crying and holds on to its parents, the upholders of fascimile tradition.

Now what I am going to talk about it is- fat shaming. India is a country, which cares about it how it looks, and not how it really is. That can be applied to humanity as a whole but right now I can only stretch my arms towards my own country. We are the country which has apparently got the best melanine combination in our skin but we are racist towards our own people. Go, open a matrimonial paper and no one wants JUST a girl or a boy, they want Fair, tall, thin, men or women. Each to his own, yes, that is right. Everyone likes variety, has their choices. But when you see it as a recurrent pattern, it is disconcerting. Same, goes for the 'thin' bit. The greatness attached to thinness is so demeaning and devaluating to a person's ego, that India has become one of those countries where teenagers are going through problems of anorexia and bulimia nervosa- it has led to depression and anxiety. Is it really worth all that mental trouble? 

Being healthy is important, but being shamed for what one looks like is not. Being fat is problematic, but what if for that person it isn't? No one has the right to shame the person for his or her looks. Not only fat shaming, but skinny shaming is also on the rise. Body shaming as a whole is such a problematic issue that one can write a whole book on it, a never ending one at that. It is the most disgusting for a fellow human to do- to shame another person for their fat, or the lack of it. It leads to a person getting low self esteem, low self confidence and even leads to suicides. 

Now many arguments would sound something like this: Why take offense? Why not work out? Why not CHANGE how you look? Why not take offense? Why be judgemental? Why not just take it as a joke, and move on? Fat feminazis will be the worst comment one can get for talking about body shaming. "All these fat girls are feminists because no one will fuck them"- is one sentence which resounds in my head whenever I want to talk about shaming. The funny part is the very sentence proves my point- it shames a fat person, makes them look like perenially sexually frustrated human beings and cherry on the top- makes feminism looks like a curse. Why do these sentences come forth time and again? Is it too offending to know your reality? To know that you have been unconsciously or consciously destroying someone's life by demoralising them, and now when they have the gumption to come out and speak about it, your idea of normalcy has been challenged? Mere anarchy, is loosed upon your world.

 Hundred of my friends call me 'motu', 'golu', 'moti'. Terms of endearment, they say. I never feel bad about it. In fact, I feel it is alright, it is my reality, I am fat, and they are not telling something new to me. Nor will I tell them to call me 'patlu', 'lakdi'. 'patli'. That is the words they reserve for my thin, 'too skinny' friends. 

It is when this harmless joke, which is not offensive ( no really, be assured),  takes a turn and hits us on our faces- Moti, apni haalat dekh le! Bhai! Stage na toot jaye tu chadhe toh! (See your condition. I hope the stage does not break if you stand on it.). This is just one I remember. There are so many that my brain has voluntarily ejected them out of my system. But that is how MY brain works- some people hold on to it for lives. They don't need to, you know. No one needs to make them go through that mental pain. Yes, one can go on to become healthy by listening to such demoralising words- but is it a healthy stimulus for leading them to change themselves? Not everyone can eject, not everyone can hit the gym. Everyone has their own stories, and such generalisations of jokes lead to never ending problems. 

I have always followed the maxim of 'laughing at oneself before anyone else does'. It has become my defense mechanism. I make fun of myself, before anyone else can start the joke. But it is a very unhealthy mechanism. I have become my biggest critic!

Can I tell anyone to stop calling fat people fat and thin people thin? No. But when did someone's bodily appearance become a cuss-word? How did their very appearance become a matter of joke?

Do you think this problem will solve if you become thin by exercising or by adding a little fat on your bones? Not really. People will still go on saying things, searching for things to shame you.  That is what makes me think: what is the solution?

The issue I started off with, not accepting reality. Anything out of the 'ordinary' offends us, is revolting and disgusts us. But we never question what is that 'ordinary' thing to which we got used to so much? Why is this new thing so extraordinary? Why is it so revolting? Have we been tied down by some power which forces us to think unilaterally? Perhaps. 

It is time to accept reality in its myriad forms. Just imagine, the way we think the world 'should be', if the world was really like that, it would have been such a boring world- unilateral, unidimensional, all the same everywhere. I am trying to make a very blase argument in the end because elite, high handed arguments do not seem to work, and they never will. I can write about Cixous, Audre Lorde and Butler but what will really hit you home is this: a world where everyone will look the same, be the same will not be a world worth living in. Haruki Murakami said this about the habit of reading: If you keep reading the book everyone is reading, you will think what everyone is thinking. And how bad is that if it becomes a norm, a rule- the world being run by this weird rule book which forces us to become inane robots? A Beckettian world where nothing happens, nothing is different.

 World has given us variety which is inherent to us and we should start accepting the multidimensionality of reality. People are fat, thin, black, white, brown, gay, trans, girls, boys and the list goes on. People are people and they come in various forms. And our duty as varied individuals ourselves is to accept someone else's  form of variety. 

1 comment:

thetraveller said...

Construction of these notions in Indian social sphere has a long history ,which as you correctly state, have surfaced as unquestionable norms and remain largely unaccepted by individuals who either simply shy away or try to maintain their "sanskriti" on all hypocritical standards one could think of. But sexuality and its fall has been borderless,therefore, not limited within context of Indian society and many ideas have been importes.

Certain themes within the topic of sexuality are taboos, which must be reconsidered or discussed. I remember attending a cultural anthropology lecture at college where a discussion on "sexuality and gender in societies" attracted a good crowd but as discussion moved towards incest, it was easy to feel unrest among a large part of the audience. This may be outrageous for many others as well, especially if discussed outside the safe spaces of a university classroom, where most would not even think of discussing vital issues. I have often (and i still do!) blamed religion and religious institutions for this. Religion thinks that it has business in people's pants. Even if Adam and Eve, according to the faith of those who usually take offence on discussion of incest, were truly the first human pair, the entire human race is a progeny of incest.

Fall of sexuality from an art of pleasure and science of reproduction to the original sin has to be considered in a larger frame or as a jigsaw puzzle. But such fall is defended, often vehemently, by guardians of morality who are worshipped by many around us. And most of us who do not believe in their ideas, seek peace by avoiding polemic discussions and arguments. I see a majority of youngsters across the world today accepting these shallow norms as heredity. Arguments shake their faith, a faith which they have been indoctrinated with.

I'm sorry that this is not the best comment I have written. I could write much more and much better but since I'm writing by a cellphone I can't even complete my point here. To give a virtually imperfect ending to this comment, I'd quote Thomas Paine from his Common Sense, who said "...a habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom." Such is the fate of sexuality.