Yet, there are two other factors I observed over the course of my research. Firstly, there continues to be an underlying sexuality to the practice of Hinduism, which Indians seems bizarrely blind to, and in denial of even as they practice it!
Posted by Rita Banerji on February 10, 2013
This week in Delhi an exhibition on nudity in art was forcibly shut down by Hindu fundamentalist groups who took offense! Paintings in another gallery in Bangalore were also forcibly removed because the same groups found the nude portrayals of goddesses objectionable!
It is exactly this sort of public response to nudity, sex and sexuality in India today that I question in my book Sex and Power.
Below is an excerpt from the introduction of my book.
Languorously sensual and of exquisite form, men and women in stone on ancient Indian temple walls engage in explicit and imaginative love-making, in an array of intriguing poses…A man caresses his delighted lover’s naked breasts with a lotus bud…[Another] kneels before his lover and performs cunnilingus…One couple prefers intercourse in the standing position…[while] another couple in coitus understandably requires assistance…the man below…balanced on his head, the woman…on top held in position by two supporting female[s]…
However shocking the use of such explicit erotica in temples may…it would still be a mistake to regards these temples as Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on February 6, 2013
This is part II of my contribution to the Jaipur Literary Festival this year which focuses on Buddhism. You can read part I here. It’s another excerpt from the Buddhist period in my book Sex and Power (Sect II, pp.67-110). The central argument of my book is that the concepts of sexuality and sexual morality in any society keep changing over time. And it is the dominant forces–social, political, economic or religious–in any period of time that determine how that society views women, sex and sexual morality.
In the Buddhist period which stretches from about 500B.C. to 100A.D. Buddhism was one of the most powerful institutions, and the teachings of the Buddha impacted on social thinking at many levels. In the first excerpt from my book I talk about how it revolutionized the concept of class and caste based equality and social justice. But by the same token, I discovered that it also had a huge negative impact on social perceptions of gender, women and sex. To me Buddha’s unreserved misogyny and prejudice towards women Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on January 25, 2013
I was watching Eve Ensler, author of ‘Vagina Monlogues’ on an Indian T.V. channel around the time of the December 2012 Delhi Gang Rape uprisings, and she was asked what she thought might help stop violence against women in India. One of her suggestions was what most western feminists advocate often, “Get more women in.” Into government, police – positions of power and decision making.
But the fact is that in India we’ve had women in positions of power for long — and this theory of women in power as a means of betterment of women just DOES NOT WORK IN INDIA! After all we’ve had a female head of state, Indira Gandhi. Her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi, is the biggest political force in India, bigger than even the Prime Minister, India’s head-of-state, who she hand-picked for the position, and who she strings along like a puppet. Indeed, she’s been voted the 6th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine, more powerful even than Michelle Obama!
But this is what is strange. Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on January 11, 2013
There has been a furious public response on the net over the law in Uganda that intends to impose the “death penalty” (death by stoning!) for homosexuality. Uganda probably won’t implement the death penalty, at least not openly, given that western countries like the U.S. have threatened to withdraw millions of dollars in aid.
However there are at least 7 countries in the world which have the death penalty for homosexuality, and these include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania. Now these nations haven’t faced the same threats from the western countries because — well some of them are sitting on large reserves of oil that literally runs the wheels of many western economies, and there may be other more important political interests than protecting the gay communities from the hideous destiny of being stoned to death.
And besides these countries, there are many more countries where homosexuality is still a criminal offense. In India this law (Sect 377 of the Indian Penal Code) was struck down by the Delhi Court in 2009, and later in 2012, the Supreme Court of India observed that traditionally homosexuality was not an offense (legal or social) in India before the British rulers decided to impose a new law in India in 1860 criminalizing it.
Indeed while researching for my book Sex and Power, I was amazed at the normalcy with which both homosexuality and homosexual acts between individuals (regardless of their sexuality), was treated in ancient India. It is depicted Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on December 9, 2012
On October 1st, I opened the morning paper, and my eyes immediately fell on a line at the bottom of the front page. It read, “5-year-old may have choked to death during oral sex.”
The report was about a 5-year-old girl who had been adopted by a child-less couple in the city of Indore in India, and who had been subjected to sexual abuse by the adopted father for some time. Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on October 6, 2012
A British woman is fighting for the legal right of ownership of her husband’s sperm, who in the past donated his sperm to clinics, without informing her. The wife says his sperm is joint “marital asset” (like the house, car and CD collection), and that he can’t go distributing it around the countryside without her consent.
But why does this idea of a woman having legal ownership of her husband’s sperm sound ridiculous to most people? Because the opposite case — that is the husband’s ownership of a woman’s womb, vagina and eggs, has historically been taken for granted in all countries and cultures!
Don’t get me wrong here! As far as I’m concerned the “my body, my choice” motto applies just as much to men as to women. But what I’m trying to say, is Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on September 10, 2012
Sometime ago, I was sent a link to an article — a sort of a suggestion, that I was told Indian women could use to stop the female gendercide in India!
I took one look at the article and burst out laughing!! Was this a joke?
The article was about how the women of Liberia had banded together and gone on a “sex strike.” They had refused to have sex with their husbands till such time the violence and civil war was stopped and the average Liberian could at least try to live in peace!!
The reason I thought it was funny was because, this person, a westerner, who handed this lovely idea to me, obviously had no idea Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on August 27, 2012
Below is an excerpt from my article “The Pink Panties Campaign and The Indian Women’s Sexual Liberation” first published in Intersections: Journal of Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, Issue 23, January 2010
The article talks about the sexual and reproductive repression of women in India, and about the squashing of perhaps one of the first countrywide attempt to challenge this repression.
To read the whole article CLICK HERE
The cultural boundaries imposed on the sexual freedom and sexual expressions of women, have been an effective means of the subjugation of women in societies all over the world. However, in non-western countries like India however, even as a minute section of the liberal elite tries to experiment with the idea of sexual freedom, the sexual boundary walls for women remain dauntingly tall and unchallenged, and are periodically reinforced through the public castigation of violators.
In 2005 when the south Indian film actress, Khushboo, made a statement about the ludicrousness of expecting women in today’s world to remain virgins till they are married, she was pelted with slippers and eggs, slapped with a dozen court cases and forced to tender a public apology.
When Hollywood actor Richard Gere placed a friendly peck on Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty’s cheek, the masses went berserk, and Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on July 27, 2012
Recently India has been seriously pondering over the most ridiculous question. Is Pinki Pramanik a rapist? Well, that’s not the stupid question. The stupid question is:
Is Pinki Pramanik male or female, because she apparently can be charged with the rape she’s accused of, by her female partner, only if it’s proved she is male!!
Pinki Pramanik is an Indian track athlete who has won numerous medals for India for the women’s track races at various international events. Earlier this year, her live-in partner, another woman, brought charges of rape against her. Apparently this partner shared pictures of Pinki that showed she had ‘male’ genitalia.
An earlier test from a private clinic appears to establish Pinki as ‘male.’ However, the first test was held as inconclusive, Pinki was incarcerated and put through a gruesome public and media spectacle as she was paraded in and out of jail, and through various hospitals and labs – in a bid to establish her gender!
She was put through every kind of humiliation conceivable. A clip of her naked and exposed as medical authorities examined her, somehow made its way into the internet circuit. Read the full post »
Posted by Rita Banerji on July 13, 2012