India Uptight over Erotica in Hinduism?

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 khajuraho1Indian 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]…

khajuraho2However shocking the use of such explicit erotica in temples may…it would still be a mistake to regards these temples as (more…)

What Was Buddha’s Issue with Sex and Women?

So naked, young women are shameful and go to Hell?

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 (more…)

India’s Confusion Over “Sexy”

If “SEX” is a four-lettered word in India, it’s not hard to believe the confusion that the extra alphabet in “SEXY” has  recently caused.

The chairperson of India’s National Commission For Women, Mamta Sharma stirred up a hornet’s nest when while speaking at a function for women she said“Boys pass comments on girls terming them sexy but sexy means beautiful and charming. We should not see it in negative sense.”  She then went on to describe a scenario which basically amounts to street sexual harassment — of a bunch of guys, calling out “sexy” at a woman walking by.

Now if Ms. Sharma expects that woman to smile and courtesy her thank you to these men, she too is clearly confused about what SEXY means!

The online dictionary gives three definitions of ‘sexy’ along with their usage in sentences for all those who are (more…)

Female Bosses and Sex: A Double Standard?

Sculpture by Linda Klarfeld

Below is a link to an article that asks the question: Is there a double-standard in how we judge men and women in positions of power who use their sexuality to leverage power at work?

What the author of the article argues is that if male bosses, touch a woman or flirt with her at work, they risk being accused of sexual harassment.  However female bosses can get away with touching and flirting with male juniors, and the author interviews a few women in positions of power, who openly admit to doing do.

However, as I read the article, it seemed pretty clear that these women were not talking about forcing their sexual attentions on men. (more…)

How Men Think of Women and Sex

Hugh Hefner in his own words: “The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects, there wouldn’t be another generation.”

“Women have always been seen by [heterosexual men] as their exclusive property… ”  This is philosopher Michael Foucault’s thought on how western men think of women in terms of power and sexuality.  There are some more of his ideas (in red) below.  Foucault believed that sex determined power relationships between the genders, and the reason was because Western society considered sex as a science, something to be understood, revealed,  discovered and displayed unlike the East that regarded sex as an art, something that was natural and inherently powerful.  As an art it is not something to be discovered or acquired but rather something that is comfortably enjoyed.  Foucault believed that the Eastern view of sex as art meant not just enjoying it but also keeping it a secret because that is how its inherent power was protected.

I however do not agree with Foucault’s understanding of the Eastern approach to sex. (more…)

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