Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Women Versus Women

Last week, I attended the debate that Outlook magazine has been organising in major cities to celebrate 15 years of its existence. This being Chennai, the subject of the debate was 'Moral Policing in a Democracy.'

It was a lively debate, with plenty of active participation from the audience, and I am fortunate to have attended it. The audience kept booing a former vice-chancellor of Anna University who, during his tenure, had forbidden jeans and T-shirt on the campus, the reason being if female students wore jeans and T-shirt, it would distract the teachers and therefore education would suffer.

Supporting him was Dr Tamilisai Soundarajan. This lady needs introduction. Her father, Kumari Anandan, is a well-known Congress leader from Tamil Nadu, but the daughter chose to join the BJP and even contested the last elections from North Chennai. Dr Tamilisai is also a medical doctor.

"I know it better, because I am a doctor myself. There is something called excitement," she thundered, seeking to explain medically the effect that the sight of a T-shirt/jeans-clad female student can have on the male teacher. I wanted to ask her two things:

1. Madam, by the same logic, male doctors should not examine female patients. What if the stethoscope keeps landing at the wrong place out of excitement? Worse, what if they wrote the wrong medicine out of excitement?

2. Madam, if the teachers get excited by the mere sight of a T-shirt-clad female student, do they deserve to be teaching in the first place? Did they complete their PhD's in a jungle, living in a cave?

But I didn't ask her these questions because she was already being hounded. Moreover, I was just a fly on the wall, taking notes: I was determined not to become a participant. By not being a participant, one can write with total objectivity.

But one statement made by the lady keeps ringing in my ears -- and mind you, she is a doctor! When the subject came to young people visiting pubs, she shouted:

"If you see your sister or daughter drinking in a pub, won't you give her one tight slap and drag her home?"

The panelists cringed. And then she thundered again, "I am a doctor, I know the harmful effects of alcohol."

I don't really blame her. She was merely echoing what you call the typical Indian mentality. In my personal experience, I have seen it is the women who have all the fun in the parties and the pubs because they know how to hold their drink unlike the men who are prone to get drunk and therefore more susceptible to the ill-effects of alcohol. But never did Dr Tamilisai say, "If you find your brother or son drinking in a pub, won't you give him one tight slap and drag him home?"

The men are excused, you see. The onus is on the women to be well-behaved and keep the so-called Indian culture together. A man can go out of town on work and gladly romance a colleague or engage a sex worker, nothing happens. His wife might give him hell if she ever finds out, but the society merely winks mischievously. But if a working woman were to do the same, the scandalised society would take it upon itself to brand her a slut.

Indian society is still very primitive and chauvinistic, which does not appreciate a woman taking her own decisions. Even something as simple as having a drink all by herself is likely to be met by raised eyebrows. An Indian woman, if at all she has to drink, must do so only in the company of her husband or boyfriend or when she has a bunch of friends over. If she enjoys a drink all by herself, and if people come to know about it, they call her a 'loose character'. How can a woman enjoy a drink alone? So hard to digest she is having fun without the permission or approval of a man. That is the truth, and no one can deny it.

When I say chauvinism, I don't mean male chauvinism. Women, in my opinion, are the biggest enemies of women. One does not like the idea of another having a good time. Often, such jealousies are the result of grapes being sour. A woman who has never been asked out by a man for a cup of coffee or a drink will always look at couples sitting in a coffee shop or a pub with a tainted vision. Imagine two women living under the same roof, say hostel mates. One gets all the male attention, while the other gets none. You will invariably find the one, who does not get the attention, constantly warning the other: "You must be careful with men. You don't know what they are capable of. Avoid them." But if the deprived woman happens to find attention as well, then man ceases to be an evil creature and the hostel room becomes a rosy place to live in.

It is not too difficult to find one woman sympathising with another for having an abusive or an impotent husband; but if the aggrieved woman happens to have a one-night stand or feels good in the arms of another man, she is instantly branded as loose-character by the same sympathising woman.

and I am with you;
Seek pleasure,
then to hell with you.

That's the kind of emotion that works between women.

It is quite evident from the angry comments that my previous post has attracted. It is the story of a woman called Ms C, who is bold as well as beautiful (and therefore more of a threat to women than men),and who, one night during a party, has no-strings-attached sex with a colleague of her husband in his car. She has a good time, and the next morning she wakes with no sour feelings but only a backache caused by the lack of space in the car. I wrote that how I respected her for being bold enough to enjoy sex for the sake of sex without inventing an emotional excuse.

But no one agreed with me. And then it struck me, why so. I realised that if you are Indian woman, certain rules apply:

1. You should not think of sex unless there is a man who grants legitimacy to your thoughts;

2. You should not even dream of having sex with any man other than the one mentioned above;

3. You can have sex with another man, but for that you need to be sufficiently 'carried away';

4. But the next morning, after being 'carried away' the night before, you must be found choking with guilt, shedding copious tears, even contemplating suicide. It is very important that you show signs of guilt or else the society will put the 'Loose' stamp on your character certificate.

But if you don't comform to these norms, you are branded a slut. And why? Not because of morality -- because no one has been able to define morality -- but only jealousy.

Ms C, after all, is a woman to be jealous about. She is beautiful and she is bold. She falls for the charm of a man and decides to have sex with him, without inventing stories in order to justify her act. Why should she justify it -- and to who? She is pretty much sure what she wants. All she wants is good sex for that night and she gets it. The next morning she does not wake up with suicidal thoughts or shed tears of guilt. She goes to work as usual, ableit with a backache.

Now that's what is needling people, who can't digest the fact that an Indian woman can enjoy sex with a stranger and at the same time wake up the next morning without a trace of guilt. Oh boy, how can a good-looking woman decide to enjoy sex on her own: shouldn't somebody tame her and tell her about moral values?

But no one grudges a man enjoying sex. In fact, the society conspires to see to it that he gets to enjoy it, legitimately or illegimately. But when it comes to women, the society is jealous. Women are a source of enjoyment, how can they seek enjoyment -- it is highly immoral!

I know for a fact that the baiters of Ms C are mostly women, because men would only like her tribe to grow. It is the women who disapprove of her action and the explanation is simple: "How can you enjoy it, you bitch, when none of us can't?"

And finally, a word for those troubled souls who, every time I write on the subject of sex, ask me the same 'What if your wife' question. Such souls never go into the merit of a post and instead choose to get personal and dirty.

Dear Troubled Soul, if you think I am a hypocrite who advocates free sex on one hand and at the same time cringes at the thought of my wife going for it, you are wrong. Perhaps you are the kind who tells himself or herself every now and then, "Shucks, how could I even think about it? What if my spouse did the same to me?" But unlike you, I have the luxury of expressing my thoughts freely because that's the way I want it. If you don't know how to speak your mind you are a vegetable. And my thoughts are neither a slave of my wife's presence, nor is my wife the slave of my presence or my thoughts. We are two individuals who respect each other and who do not let insecurities curb each other. Does having a wife mean that I, as a writer, should not express my thoughts on sex? Does having a wife mean that I cannot stand up and clap for Ms C?

I am here to stand by my beliefs, not to entertain the insecurities that you express.


Praveen said...

Here is the debate.

The Outlook Debate Moral policing in democratic India Part-1

The Outlook Debate Moral policing in democratic India Part-2

Anonymous said...

that was a bold one ;)

Anonymous said...

Great effort with the post. Dr.Tamizhesai Sounderrajan is a well known sonologist and really good at her work unfortunately she sucks at moral policing. Well to begin with, she was hounded in college for being flashily dressed and in fact was a trendsetter as to how to dress in the most festive sarees and salwars, with loud jewellery and makeup and earrings!The rest of us would gape in wonder. At one particular debate in college she was targeted by a much junior student for being a distraction for the eyes. But the Tamizhesai I knew then was such a sport. She had no airs absolutely, would debate in eloquent tamizh and was actively involved in politics being touted as the heir to her father.
Although she was studying to be a gynecologist her heart was set in sonology at which she still is brilliant. Anyways the fact remains that she has now taken on a topic for which she is not as eligible as her medical mind.So your questions to her are justified. With respect to the dare and bare Mrs.C, there are many hypothetical areas: for one this whole episode could be a figment of one's imagination, or that of her "best" friend, could be that Mrs.C does not have a great sex life after all that she needed the quickie so bad or she does not have a sex life.Period. People who have it all dont brag. Those that are deprived do. And at some point we all have done the dirty bragging.Almost all the single or newly single women I know who have great careers and are independent have an aversion to blind sex.They are just not turned on. Even if I were to goad them I got the same answer amazingly: If we dont connect mentally even for a one night stand there is no question of basement exploration. Sex without conversation and just for the act is so not happening among women. Perhaps foreplay and half sex like you would put it in your trademark language. I wonder which is more romantic: sex with a total stranger cramped up in a maruti 800 just because you have been sexually deprived OR stealing a full fledged kiss under the moonlight and stars on a terrace knowing fully well you are in danger zone but perfectly tuned to understand that its worth all of that. No expectations in both cases BUT one makes you feel wanted and the other makes you feel like one among million. I feel it would feed my ego and self esteem to feel wanted and desired in the right way rather than allow a two minute fuck which I would later share with a colleague making sure she knows every detail of the act and thereby bragging about a backache which for all you know would have been the result of her husband's inadequacy to handle her well in bed or she replaced her maid for the day at housework. Who knows who speaks the truth. But the best friend is and has always been the target despite the thought provoking post. And you at the end of the day is a writer, whose writing is a product of actual experiences or imaginary situations.Two essential qualities to keep a reader tuned in. BUT in no way is anyone 100% truthful in being the "free thinking" "liberated" individual who gives his spouse the 100%freedom and treats them as equals. NO way. I can vouch that no human being practices enitrely what they preach so allow readers to criticize your writing and learn to take it sportively. No one here questioned the integrity of anyone's spouse.

Sepiamniac said...

very well written... having been raised with two elder brothers, I know how it is ... I can understand each point and relate to them, too...

and I am with you;
Seek pleasure,
then to hell with you'

So true, buddy...

Anupama said...

Well, yes, Indian men are chauvinistic; and females - more so. Men are too hot and bothered and self involved to make women's lives miserable, so women do it on their own, with generous help from other women.
As far as Ms.C, I would say...to each his own. Some may enjoy it, some may not. Nobody is clean enough to point fingers at others, which Indians conveniently forget most of the times.

Sugar said...

hey!!just chanced upon your blog.. will go thru your older posts..
but i love this one and the previous :)
read the book No onions nor garlic?
similar thoughts :)

Neha said...

How very true! It IS woman against woman. Even if a man will talk about women liberation, a woman would snub him with her senseless logic! If a girl gets a lot of male attention, her friend will warn her; if a girl does well for herself and is successful in what she is doing, it is the women around her who will target her character, of all things!!!

There is no dearth of such people...and then they talk about education opening mindsets!

Anonymous said...

Awesome! What a brilliant justification to the previous one.

Even though I really don't agree with some of the points you made, I can't stop myself from congratulating you on this terrific write-up :-)

And see, I am not jealous :-)

Ken Macklin said...

Well well well, I must say one particular line in your blog caught me my attention more than the rest "Indian society is still very primitive and chauvinistic" well that sums up pretty much the fabric of our society be it a man or a woman .. women cry for freedom, all the time where the tears are being used to disgrace their own kind .. its sad .. whereas u got an absolutely strong argument and valid one about men escaping free from blame or reputation-damage unlike women .. who are their own worst enemies .. well written mate .. absolutely ..

Unknown said...


I see you deleted my comment on the last entry. Not something a writer should do, especially when he goes on to write about being free with your thoughts and what not.

If you recall, my comment was about not finding respect for people who don't or can't keep commitments. It said nothing about men or women in particular, and it definitely didn't say anything about morality.

If you want to have sex, whether you're a man or a woman, you should go ahead. More power to you. But if you've already made a commitment to another person, a contract, which essentially means you dedicate yourself to that person forever and ever, and you break that commitment without the other person knowing, I find it hard to respect that person. WHETHER IT'S A MAN OR A WOMAN.

I believe everyone should be free to fantasize and think about whatever they want, but unless you negotiate with your partner and get an okay from them - you're a cheater and you do not deserve their trust. And I personally will never find any respect for anyone who doesn't have enough control over themselves to keep a promise. And I'm not just talking about extramarital sex.


Unknown said...


If your wife or husband is okay with you sleeping with other people, and you go sleep with someone and have a good time, I'm fine with it - it is none of my business. It isn't anyone else's business in any case, it's between the people involved - but since you, BG, wrote about respect for a cheater (I assume the husband didn't give her permission) I responded to it.

You seem to have conveniently ignored the question about how you would react if your wife did it (assuming you both haven't agreed that sleeping with others is okay) - why is that so hard for you to answer? It's just another thought, isn't it? It's not going to affect your marriage in any way if you answer it, according to what you've said in this post, right? :)

And as far as the almost romantic label 'troubled soul' goes, I am no troubled soul; I am very happy and 'secure' as I am, thank you very much! :D

I seem to have pissed you off enough to make you dedicate a paragraph or two to this - I'm sorry if I offended you. You should've just responded in the comments and that would've been that. Deleting my comment makes you seem quite insecure - but hey, are you going to ignore me again and delete this one as well, BG? I'll check back in a couple of days and see... :)

Anonymous said...

I have noticed.People who advocate and justify extramarital sex, one night stand or a one hundred night stand usually have a hidden agenda.
They have such persuasive talents, it is so easy for them to pollute the minds of a woman and make them commit the act and yet feel their is no sin involved.
Thanks to some wonderful inspirational blogs like yours.
Almost all men without exception when it comes to their wife, they have differnt yardstick.
Youn say the Indian society is primitive and chauvinistic.
Are you part of it or out of it?

Ammallu said...

So true. Even in an office, it's always the female colleagues, who give you a tough time. And if you are beautiful, and stylish...god save you from the envious stares and disdainful glares.

Sepiamniac said...

btw i forgot to add.. i like the way u said f*** off to some :))))

margee said...

writing is an art..why cant people allow art for art sake if not sex !!!!! BG you are certainly on track..

The Naked Mind And Soul said...

Beautifully written and profound! I liked this one better than the last post.

Now, we all are entitled to our own opinions on moral values but why judge someone based on our opinions? Who are we to call anyone a cheater or brand someone a slut? Do I justify infidelity? The answer is NO. I do believe in and respect the sanctity of a marriage but what I don't believe in, is judging or branding someone, something based on my views!

P.S - I don't think you owe anyone an explation on what you've written. If they can't digest it, ask them to take a walk!

Cheers Bish! :-)

Unknown said...

well written...and to second you i can say i used to go out with one of my friend(a girl) who is very beautiful and stylish .....and to my horror wherever we went it was always the girls checking her out which really surprised me.....i even told her this to which she laughed and i thought "God are there so many lesbians"....but i see the reasons now......make perfect sense

Truly Yours said...

To tell u honestly mate, we women have come quite far and have reached the point when we do raise our middle finger and tell the society to go to wherever it suits it best. Btw my friend M told me about ur blog and I am mighty pleased to hear your thoughts on this topic...thankfully men like u makes the world more livable for us...keep writing!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful thoughts... very honest... love it BG.. keep writing... love all your posts... especially this one and the last one - obviously coz its about women... I know those eyes and that kinda roommates and what the heck... have sex for the sake of sex and get over it guys...

Divya said...

I am a woman and I totally agree with this article. Spot On.

Anubhuti said...

Mr Ghosh, good morning! What a co-incidence! Just on our way back from Amritsar, my husband & I were discussing the same topic.

If a woman goes out wearing short clothes, too much make up, these are usually the visible signs of a girl being modern,it's the other women who stare her the most. Perhaps just plain Jealous that they can not do the same, the men, in all probability, will silently appreciate her, some might bed her too, nothing wrong in that as long as the woman is happy, right ?? But then, the same men, when wat to get married, would want a virgin for a wife. why are men not chauvinistic then ? A man can go out, have sex, come home & sleep like nothing happened. Even if his wife finds out, there's not much that will happen, some emotional drama, some false promises and life will get back to normal.
Now imagine the other situation. The wife goes out - makes love, I use this term, much to your dislike Mr Ghosh, because, I think, mostly, women make love, not have sex. There are exceptions to this though.
Anyway, so the wife comes home, gets back to normal life, only that guilt hounds her,especially, if she's a "good girl". So now somehow the husband gets a whiff. All hell breaks loose and I neden't explain what all can happen.

Coming back to women vs women.In school, I was the only one who wore short skirts and dresses, most of the other girls moved into salwar kurta by the time they were fifteen, anyway, I remember how all other girls stared at my legs, some suggested that it was inaapropriate way of dressing in public, what
will people think?" Many years later,when I had moved on to suits, a few close friends at work were discussing men & sex.I will spare you the details, but, what came out most significantly, was, that if you wear indian clothes, don't use makeup, don't look "hot",you can't have or want sex. Quite amusing !! Nobody imagined that someone who's dressed in a suit always,hates makeup and is good at her work, can have or even want sex. So sex is a bad thing for bad girls.Maybe that is why, I too use "lovemaking" rather than sex. Conditioning you see Mr Ghosh !

That also reminds me, I used this topic in the first ever job interview I gave, I still remember the horror on the face of the people around. I think it was more to do with my being a women and that too from a small town & not so much to do with the topic.
I think, I will write a post on that someday.

Shobana said...

Very true! This is the reality!