Tann Ki Baat: Are we afraid to live in a society where women live like men?
Sexual liberation of Indian women has been swept under the sari for far too long. When in 2017, a film such as Lipstick Under My Burkha gets banned for being “too lady oriented” we begin to question if society realises that there is also a vagina underneath our burkhas or underneath our lehengas or underneath our short skirts that we only seem to wear because we are asking for itbrunch Updated: Jul 24, 2017 11:23 IST
Mitron, I am not supposed to tell you that I masturbate. I am not supposed to tell you that you masturbate. I am not supposed to tell you that we women masturbate and that is exactly why I am telling you this; because I think that somebody should.
Sexual liberation of Indian women has been swept under the sari for far too long. When in 2017, a film such as Lipstick Under My Burkha gets banned for being “too lady oriented” we begin to question if society realises that there is also a vagina underneath our burkhas or underneath our lehengas or underneath our short skirts that we only seem to wear because we are asking for it.
Asking for it
Yes, we are asking for it. Much to your dismay, we are asking to be recognised as human beings who have sexual needs, desires and preferences. I have no qualms about being an adult woman who knows well and truly what stimulus her body needs to achieve an orgasm, but any suggestion to my right to my own body is only meted with me being branded a slut.
Interestingly, the Cambridge dictionary defines a slut as “a woman who has sexual relationships with a lot of people without any emotional involvement” or to put simply, the life of a man. We are quick to dismiss women who are overtly sexual as being ‘unfeminine’ or ‘fast’ or ‘bold’. I was once asked on Twitter how I lost so much weight in the last one year, jokingly, I replied saying that it’s because I had a lot of sex. People were quick to chime in saying how bold it was of me to give that answer, and that is the problem.
It is problematic when we live in a society where a married (not that it matters if I weren’t) adult woman can’t admit to having and enjoying sex without being termed a) slutty b) bold when ideally, it should be neither of those two. The fact that I use my vagina for anything other than reproduction should not be considered an act of valour across my labian borders.
There is indeed a reason why the most popular sanitary napkin brand in India is called Whisper. From childhood, we are taught to only mumble, mutter and express our relationships with our bodies in murmurs. The moment we say it out loud, we become ‘unsanskaari’ or too ‘lady oriented’. Ironically, in the same society when you google the term “sex symbols in Bollywood”, the list only comprises women; women who didn’t choose to mumble.
We live in a country where when Zeenat Aman goes braless in Satyam Shivam Sundaram or Kimi Katkar wears a lot more than her co-star Hemant Birje’s loin cloth in Tarzan, they are termed as the ones who ‘dare to bare’ or they become controversial figures, but scantily clad sadhus roam around our streets as Men of God.
However, it is essential to understand that the issue of “Tann Ki Baat” does not just limit itself to women who choose to wear revealing clothing but also to those who choose to cover it. The fight is not to get a license to walk around naked but to choose what we do to our bodies and how we choose to reveal or cover it. We are ready to explain empowerment to those who ‘choose’ to wear the burkha or to those who choose to wear a bikini.
Just like a man
In reality, we are ready to tell them what to do with their bodies because we are afraid. We are afraid of women who choose to have sex or who choose to remain virgins or who choose to reproduce or who choose to not have children. We are afraid of those who choose to stay single or get married or not have sex with their husbands or have equal rights to divorce. We are afraid of those who choose to wear what they want and go where they need to without fearing being groped, molested and filmed by men.
We are afraid of women who choose. Mere pyaare deshvaasiyon, the actual Mann Ki Baat is that we are afraid of women who choose to live like men.
Priya Malik is an ex-participant of Bigg Brother Australia and Big Boss, India. Through multiple initiatives on women’s empowerment, she’s taking big steps wherever she goes. She tweets as @PriyaSometimes
From HT Brunch, July 23, 2017
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First Published: Jul 22, 2017 22:44 IST