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The Age Of Pseudo-Liberalism: Are You A Liberal With Boundaries?

Posted on March 15, 2012 in Society

By Siddhartha Roy:

Do you have a moral compass? An inner pulse of sorts that discerns right versus wrong; distinguishes black from white and is able to wade through the greys in between.

There could be simple questions: Is it okay to make fun of someone’s weight or complexion? Or if it is okay to cheat in one’s finals? (Most of today’s junta isn’t exactly sure about answering the first but almost wholeheartedly supports the second)

Or the questions could be really tough: Do you support one-night stands? Or who all in a family have the right to decide if a woman should abort her child? Would you ‘really’ be fine if a gay couple moved in next door?

Let’s discuss our disorderly society and the dilemmas we encounter. The truths we cannot come to face or are too afraid to accept. And, yet, as I see people like you and me coming together in big numbers — to support causes, to fight battles, to make a change in society and their own lives — I see how these questions against this inner Judge are sometimes the most difficult to come to terms to. Because gulping down the truth is the most testing task of all.

I enjoy calling myself a ‘Liberal’. We are this new breed who support abortions, gay marriages, abhor age-old practices and superstitions, fight the bureaucracy, experiment in sexuality and uphold the rights of others to follow their beliefs — and don’t go down without a good argument. Religious, atheist or agnostic? Live-in relationship or Married life? I will try to wage a battle against my own beliefs and show you how twisted things do become when you move beyond superficiality and really read between the fine lines.

I was talking to my mami — who is a doctor — discussing childbirth and she mentioned this case where a woman aborted two of her four kids — because having four children is very risky —both for the mother and the young ones — especially in India. Hence, to ensure a healthy pregnancy, the doctor advised this. From a health perspective, this sounds like quality advice and essential for the family.

But step back for a second. Were two kids killed? I am not bringing in religion or the concept of souls. That would take the discussion to a whole new level. But, if I support the decision of an unmarried girl to abort her child owing to age, society or simply her choice, do I agree to the concept of abortion everywhere?

Does, say, a High Court judge have the right to decide this? Or is the doctor or the family involved? What would you have replied if you were asked this?

People from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) community (and, when I say ‘community’, I am not being discriminatory) celebrated when the Delhi High Court decriminalized gay sex in 2009. It struck down Section 377 of the IPC that states homosexuality and ‘unnatural’ sex is a criminal act. Sex between consenting adults was made legal and the purview of the law was limited to rape by a homosexual and paedophilia. This decriminalization would also help monitor and check HIV and other STDs amongst the gay community.

But two weeks ago when a lawyer representing the Home Ministry’s counsel declared in Supreme Court that “gay sex is highly immoral and against social order”, it seemed that the Government took a U-turn. Whatever stands you see, the Government or the pro- or anti- NGOs taking, what do you really believe? Do you think if two men or two women want to spend the rest of their lives together (including sex) move in next to you, you would be okay? What if they adopt kids? Neil Patrick Harris, most popular from his ‘Barney Stinson’ womanizer act in ‘How I Met Your Mother’, is gay. He and his partner have twins. And even from a distance, you can be a liberal and stand in support of the movement.

But how about this: Has a gay man ever made a pass at you? Yes, I am talking to the guys. Anybody? I’d be the first to raise my hand. How would you respond? Well, I, for one, was very angry. Especially, if physical innuendos are involved. Excessive feminine attributes are sometimes mocked at in men and even made a laughing stock of. In all good humour and friendly banter and especially no maleficence, I do support it. But does that make me anti-gay?

Not really. I am fine with gay activities from a distance. I would support their right to indulge in and satisfy their sexual needs, build a house, get married, buy health insurance and raise a family. I am not gay but I support your right to be gay. I don’t have any gay friends personally but I wouldn’t mind that at all. I am liberal. But I am not fine with being made a pass at. It makes me uncomfortable. And, for a moment, even makes me wonder about the countless passes women face while and especially after growing up.

And while we are discussing (to quote from ‘The Big Bang Theory’) ‘coitus’, let us take up the ‘supposedly normal’ way as well. Sunny Leone came to India. So, what does she do? She has intercourse and gets filmed doing it for a living. So, why such a hue and cry over her participating in an Indian reality TV show? Her character is degrading. Really? Post the advent of mobile camera phones and limitless broadband services, pornography reaches every adult, every teenager. It is fine if you enjoy watching a three-some with Sunny Leone in it but you are against her coming to your country. What hypocrisy!

But, if you are liberal, would you date a pornstar (male or female)? It is just a question. Would you be able to come to terms with the ‘experience’ and the life they have led? They aren’t ashamed of it, if that is what you are thinking. Many weren’t even forced or got into the profession to support a family. They just chose to do it. A choice is worth respecting but is ‘that’ choice worth your respect?

Maybe this argument was too extreme. Let us take it several notches down.

We live in a fast-paced world of instant gratifications and nano-second frequency text messages. Video-chat on 3G and live our lives on Facebook. And, often, we are more connected. More together! But is this sometimes too much?

I see guys/girls getting insecure over their love interests. Infidelity/divorces are extreme examples. But fights/quibbles over his or her friends/work/time and, most importantly, exes are walking on a razor’s edge. Would you really have time to appreciate and love the person if all you do is count and scrutinize the list of guys/girls your current has had sex with? Or was in love with?

But you are going to encounter such situations. Adulthood isn’t all about the fun (read: one night stands; though it is very much prevalent and even accepted. Ask me. I support it.) but also about growing up. The decisions and value systems and choices are our own. You will meet people who don’t agree with your viewpoint.

Genuine relationships — the ones with the potential to become ‘happily ever afters’ — fizz out and it is saddening to see a steep rise in the ‘breaking up’ trends. As a liberal, I’d support one’s decision to stick by or leave. It is a personal choice. Whether you want to be friends with benefits or mutually exclusive lovers — it all is a personal choice. But you will only understand your ‘real’ views when you see it face to face — in your lives, in your family or friend circles. Not what you have learnt from television and the silver screen.

There are countless instances and numerous questions. The idea isn’t to consider hypothetical situations in advance and decide our viewpoints. That isn’t being liberal because that isn’t realistic. It is when you are personally impacted or really think deeply, that you realize your ‘liberal’ core.

So, are we pseudo—liberals? I think we all are liberals with boundaries. We still have a value system which we modify and enhance with experience. Surrounded by hypocrites doesn’t make it easier. But we are an enthused force who seek the truth and also know ourselves inside out.