Why India’s View on Sex and Sexuality is Deadly!

The question that led to the writing of my book Sex and Power was, why is India with its erotic history, so neurotic about sex today?  See “India Uptight over Erotica in Hinduism?

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!

Secondly, modern India has the most extreme form of cultural tolerance for various types of sexually deviant social behavior – like sex-trafficking in the form of marriage!  As I tried to understand why this was so, a theory from Freud explained it quite clearly, and also made a projection.  As I searched further, I realized that Freud was right!  The biggest shocker for me was making the connection that the female genocide in India today is a direct result of India’s confounded, perverted social attitude to sex and sexuality!

Below is an excerpt from the last section of my book.

lingam yonijpgThe lingam-yoni which continues to be worshipped by millions in India is perhaps one of the most blatant sexual allusions in Hinduism. It is not just the terminology, the actual use of the words ‘penis’ (lingam) and ‘vagina’(yoni), but it is the representation as well, the idol (bearing) a likeness (to) the respective anatomies…an unambiguous portrayal of sexual intercourse. Yet, surprisingly, most Indians will vehemently deny any sexual imagery that might strike others in the lingam-yoni, insisting it has no implications other than that of the divine…The Indian state of denial is akin to someone staring at light, calling it ‘light’ but refusing to accept it as such.

What is it that makes a sexually squeamish people adulate an icon like the lingam-yoni and still repulse its sexual connotation?

vishnupad temple at gayaFreud’s theory holds a certain justification here. Freud’s argument in this case would have been that the Hindu idols, myths and customs with a sexual connotation probably pertain to a time when sex was a very acceptable aspect of the social and religious customs.  [And therefore] these symbols continue to exist, [and are worshipped] even though sex itself came to be forcefully repressed over time as something shameful.

In [India’s] colonial period, with the arrival of first the Muslims and later the British, sex in the collective social thinking of Hindu society came to represent a ‘dirty’ act, a ‘sin’, one that sullied the individual, and was ideologically dichotomized from all things sacred and divine…Freud’s theory throws light not just on the psychological conflict Indians have..[but also explains how this] repression of the unconscious,..this conflict has result[ed] in massive social turmoil ..of grave consequences…in modern India’s face-off with sex-related catastrophes—population explosion, the AIDs epidemic, and female genocide…

Female genocide in India today is the psychopathic fallout of the socialized dichotomy of men and womenand sex and the sacred, and the inability of society to overcome this schizophrenic vision [that] regards women as non-human, sexual objects for the use of men…For the Indian patriarchy the woman is a compilation of a womb, breasts and a vagina for its use; she is a negotiable, marketable commodity…to use and dispose at it pleases. [Excerpt from Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies, Penguin Global, 2009, p.312-19]

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15 Comments

  1. Very interesting piece Rita. I’m a teacher at a community college (post secondary) in Toronto and we have a very large international student population from India. Some of my classes are 100% Indian, and most are around 50%. Given the nature of the subjects that I teach, this will be an intestesting peice to show them, as we discuss a lot of issues related to gender discrimination (in India and elsewhere) in my classes.

    Reply
  2. Q. Indians are superior to Whites.

    A. Racial superiority
    Defined by
    Cranial size
    Or
    Penis size
    Take your prick!

    Not to leave the women out
    What’s the value of a pout?
    Or the meaning of a smile?
    Big hips or small tits
    Frizzy hair
    or silky locks
    You couldn’t choose
    or you would lose.

    Genetic adulation
    primordial undulation

    As Iggy sez
    “We’re mixin’ the colors”

    Reply
    • Hell! Indians think they are White the way they behave towards other people of color, with an odd kind of inverted racism. Unless of course, they start facing racist attacks like in Australia!!

      Reply
      • pax

         /  May 23, 2013

        should it not be “we Indians think we are” instead of “Indians think they are” ?

      • Point taken 🙂 Maybe it should be “Most Indians think…” so that there’s space of those (few) of us that don’t think that way?

  3. Rajeev

     /  February 10, 2013

    good insight. Now a days people are opposing things just to show their so called leadership.

    Reply
  4. Interesting read. The sudden rise in reports of abuse against women and children have also got me thinking as to why? and how?. Your writing satisfies the why? But the need of the hour is to focus on How do we reverse this process of social degradation.

    Reply
  5. Abhishek

     /  February 14, 2013

    Extremely one sided view. I agree to one side but holding Indian society at large to be blamed is wrong. There is a considerably large section of society which is very open to the idea of feminism. The remarkable growth of India in last decade has shown an increasing acceptance of womanhood. The rise in the reported cases is also because woman feel empowered to come out and speak for their rights. Regarding the shivling, I would say go and ask average Indian and you will find that though the sexual openness is not found in the society, people know what they are worshiping. The demise of the glorious sexual and expressive culture of India is the result of many events, colonialism being one of the prominent ones.

    Reply
  6. Regarding the schizo viewpoint of men: We have to maybe overpower loonies and make it such that women are not objectified…But when women support such men, marry them, and co habit with them, that is when the bough breaks..I think, I for one, am averse to sexuality in my personal life and also social, simply bec of the spread of deadly diseases given as a punishment to non discerning people by the super powers..If u say yes to one, it means a big yes to them all, is the underlying message..It’s really unbelievable how much trouble a woman gets into if she agrees to even one paramour or lover..

    Reply
  7. I discovered your 50 Million Missing Campaign some time ago, and now I follow your blog and find it simply delicious. I must confess that your comment about the Colonial period in this entry (quoting: “first the Muslims and later the British”) makes me think a lot about the way some Indian right-wing groups perceived or received -or probably just created it as a pretextual statement- the concept of foreign sexual moral values as repressive. Many few historical periods have witnessed the erotic artistic production that occurred during the Islamic expansion, not only in literature, but in music, miniatures and dance, from India to Spain. And as for the British, the Georgian, the Restoration and the Victorian era were quite erotic as well. Queen Victoria was an eager nude and erotica collector herself.

    So it makes me wonder… couldn’t it be that putting the blame about sexual repression on Muslims and British is just another face of this well known game of “West is responsible for Indian decadence”? If so, it would lead to a whole lotta new branches for research!

    Reply
    • No, this is not a knee-jerk reaction! This is an excerpt from my book which specifically looked at how the concept of sex, sexuality, nakedness etc changed from period to period (5 periods in all) from 1700 B.C. now in India. It’s based on 5 years of research and reconstructs the way people lived, dressed, thought, had sex, thought of sex and sexuality etc. in each period, and how that changed from period to period, and what made it change. It’s very thoroughly documented (if you go through the book) and referenced in great details. In fact it is the only book on Indian history that does that, as has been mentioned to me many times, and that’s why it is in most major academic institutions. See here for a list of libraries online. In fact Indians say just the opposite. Gandhi and many today say the free attitude to sex and nakedness comes from the ‘decadent’ west. And I’m saying, no it doesn’t. It come from India itself, and it’s the closeting of sex and the human body that comes from the interaction with the west and the Muslim rulers. Yes, there was erotica and pornography in both the British and Muslim periods, but it was closeted, because it was still considered sinful and decadent. So it is that ‘naughty’ thing that the privileged engaged in. But that way of looking at sex and the naked human body is entirely absent in Indian history prior to this period. Sex and nakedness as sinful or shameful comes from the religions — in this case Islam and Christianity. But there is absolutely nothing in any Hindu text for 5000 years that considers these as shameful or sinful in anyway!! Nothing! The fact that Hindus worship a penis and vulva and call it a penis and vulva, would be as normal as if they had a ear and a nose and called it that. So the conclusion of the book is that Indian society today exists in a schizophrenic state, with no historical or philosophical background to support the current social ethos that regards sex and nakedness as sinful and shameful.

      Reply
  8. tarun kumar

     /  March 18, 2013

    dear punishements in this regard u can consult granth sukhsagar clearly shows what kind of punishment u get in hell for different karmas even for sex with animals also.

    Reply
  9. interesting…….

    Reply

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