Pink Panties and The Indian Women’s Sexual Liberation

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 the subject was hotly debated in the media as though the nation could not have found a more pressing issue at that time.

When Mira Nair’s film, Fire, explored the lesbian liaisons of two unhappily married women, the mobs ransacked movie halls and caused such extensive destruction of public property that the film had to be withdrawn from many theatres.

And in an incident in 2008 when two teenage girls visited the homes of some boys to celebrate the Diwali festival with sweets and fire crackers, their community lynched them and burnt them to death.

It is interesting to note that in each of the above cases, the issue is with women or girls violating socially-defined sexual boundaries, and the same would not be the case if the gender roles were reversed…

As grisly as the woman’s position is in Indian society, the worst outcome of this is the extent to which Indian women have internalised their socially malformed role, such that it has caused in them collectively, a certain feminine disconnection—a virulent form of self-hatred. Women in India learn from a young age to hate their own bodies and disassociate from them. The sexual curiosities of young girls are regularly squashed as ‘dirty,’ such that most of them even as grown, married women are ignorant of the actual terms for their sexual anatomies—the vulva, vagina, and clitoris for instance, and refer to them obliquely using terms like ‘down there’. Surveys also show that a large percentage of women, even after childbirth, do not know that their urinary and reproductive openings are not one and the same. Many have never experienced an orgasm and can not even conceptualize it.

It is this disconnectedness from themselves that shows up in the often sad and sometime vile response that women have to women in India. READ MORE HERE….

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1 Comment

  1. You are evil, you do not want women to be women. Instead, you want all women in the world to be men. If a woman kills other women and rape their men, so do you think that it is equality. Just because it is just as men do.
    Women’s great need is emotional closeness to other women.

    Reply

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