With a rapid growth in online dating apps and easy access to meeting new individuals, today’s generation faces an immense amount of pressure to be “liked” by people on the internet. Quite recently, I heard someone make a repulsive comment on the sexuality of women with respect to their ethnicity. “Indian women have repressed sexuality”, the voice said. This statement comes from an educated person studying in a liberal university. More than anything else, it throws light on the pertinent issue of vilification of a woman simply because she refused to desire a man based on his dating profile. It also makes me question the educated masses and what is going wrong in their education.
Indian societies have been pre-dominantly patriarchal since their very inception. This has led to a loss of individuality pushing people to please the society around them, rather then their own desires. In the era of tinder, where it is “easier for women to get matches”, several men have resorted a variety of ways to let their frustrations out. Such sweeping generalizations on an Indian woman’s sexuality are just one way of doing it. This generalization however, made me think of just how easily people ignore the reasons behind why a woman in India would not want to “swipe right” on a particular person’s online profile.
Are we really too ignorant to actually notice that maybe Indian women aren’t sexually repressed but have been forced to act so because of the patriarchy that exists all around them? The old-age notion of a girl being the family’s “honour and respect” is still being carried around. Girls are still expected to dress in a manner that pleases the male members of the family. This is the reality of families including the “upper class” and economically well-off individuals.
I’ve travelled across various places with drastically varied sociological attributes and almost everywhere in India, women have the same complaints. They’re scared to exchange numbers with a guy they think is nice because of the previous experiences with “nice guys”. They’re scared of what their parents might say if they start living the way they really want to. Essentially there’s a duality of lives that many women are forced to live.
Every single action taken by a woman in this country is scrutinized by more people than she’d ever know of. The inherent fears and moral principles that Indian kids are brought up with turn really problematic as they grow older. There’s basically no sex education that is provided by parents, since the topic is still tabooed. Several school teachers skip out on the chapter of reproduction because they don’t know how to teach it to a bunch of wide-eyed over-enthusiastic Indian teens. This only leads to lots of unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancies that often take form of back-door alley abortion techniques.
The hypocrisy of a country that takes pride in having introduced Kamasutra to the world is simply flabbergasting. Women get flashed at on roads, groped in broad daylight in major Indian cities and incidents that often get filmed on cctv cameras show passer-bys turning a blind eye. I was in Bangalore when the mass molestation happened on New Year’s Eve. The eerie silence that hung around the city was only too noticeable for a few days. People soon moved on, to yet another incident of molestation. This has become a normal vicious cycle that has almost gained acceptance from the society around us. Women are to be protected. They are to not come home too late. They need to think twice, or twenty times before swiping right on a dating profile because more often than not, there comes a derogatory comment about your cleavage that he believes was smooth flirting. I’m getting tired of people partaking in this hilariously regressive way of being just because they are too afraid to fight it. While I acknowledge my position of privilege to be able to voice this, I also acknowledge the position of privilege that people use to silence a woman and strip her off the basic human desires that she most certainly has.
So to the individuals who think Indian woman have repressed sexuality, I ask you this: How do women embrace their sexuality on a public forum when they are shunned for it in their own private spheres? While some women succeed in doing it, a vast majority are simply silenced because of umpteen reasons that Indian “culture” apparently advocates through misogynists. Some amount of self-introspection would perhaps do good here because maybe it’s not the women who are repressed sexually. Maybe it’s the way you think about them.