The Psychology Behind #Rape, #SexTrafficking, and Women’s #Virginity

virgins wanted A 2013 survey by the India Today group and MDRA on the sexual habits and attitudes of men and women in India makes a surprising revelation.  It shows that despite the appearance of a certain sexual liberalism in Indian society, and increasing prevalence of premarital sex, 77% of men say that they will not marry a woman who is not a virgin!

In an article titled “Bride and Prejudice” [Title given by the magazine, not me!] in the India Today magazine, I explore the reasons why Indian men remain so fundamentally conservative, even in the educated, middle and upper class sections. I also explain why this fixation on women’s “virginities”  in its basic perception of women’s sexuality also feeds other forms of sexual constrictions and violence inflicted on women in India.
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Why Indian Feminists Won’t Rage Against their Own Genocide

I recently published an article in the Gender Forum Journal, the title of which is “Why Kali Won’t Rage.” Kali (in the poster above) is one of the most powerful Indian goddesses. She is the female prototype of power, who famously battled violent men and refused to submit to their advances passively. In fact she’d defeat these men, kill them and wear their skulls in a victory garland as a sign of her absolute refusal to succumb. Where is Kali today among the Indian women? Below I briefly explain what this article is about. (more…)

Your Husband is God!

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is one of my grandmother’s favorite novelists, and she says so with an air of superiority. To like Sarat Chandra is to be acknowledged as a true connoisseur of literature in India.

So it is at the risk of being rebuffed that I say this:  Sarat Chandra’s novels, particularly at the storyline level really get up my nose. I have tried reading them through all kinds of lenses—rose tinted, myopic, historic etc. etc. but they seem to always end up in the same place.

The female protagonist is always bovine and sweet-tempered. She has all but trashed her sense of self and individuality, and happily submits to the whims of her male counterpart, her family, and society, serving them all diligently, and allowing them to do with her life whatever they please. The male protagonist is almost a mirror opposite – self-seeking, irresponsible, thick-skinned and narcissistic. He believes that the world – including his family and the female protagonist are there to serve him and submit to his will. This in a nutshell is Sarat Chandra’s idea of an ideal male-female relationship.

Parineeta, continues to be one of Sarat Chandra’s most popular works among Indians as indicated by the huge popularity of its recent movie adaptation.  It is the story of a 13-year-old orphan girl, Lalita, who is raised in her uncle’s house and is infatuated with the neighbor’s son, Shekhar. In her relationship with Shekhar she willingly renders herself choice-less. All her decisions and activities are dictated to by his wants and moods. If her going out for a movie with her friends displeases him, then she sulks and sobs but eventually obeys his whim. On one occasion, she garlands Shekhar on a certain day deemed auspicious, when by virtue of that prank she is considered betrothed to him. There upon she begins to regard Shekhar as her husband. Shekhar who seems bored and aloof, however knows that his father would never accept his marriage to an orphan girl with no dowry to her name. Yet, he is smug in the knowledge of the hold he has on her.

Sighing deeply, Shekhar said aloud in a stifled voice, ‘What is to be done?’ He knew Lalita only too well, having all but brought her up himself; (more…)

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