Friday, August 27, 2010

The Irresponsible Use of Words by Those in Responsible Positions

The entire feminine discourse has been reduced to a grand celebration of infidelity and contemporary Hindi women writers are like prostitutes because they dare to promote female sexuality in their works.

So says Vibhuti Narain Rai, a vice chancellor at the Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University in recently published articles in the Naya Gyanodov Journal and in the Indian Express.

The Naya Gyanoday is a journal of the Jnanpith Trust, which confers the most prestigious Jnanpith awards. Sri Rai is also a member of the panel that chooses the prestigious Jnanpith awards. In this interview, Mr. Rai criticised that women writers of today are competing to prove themselves to become ‘sabse badi chhinal' and one can find the references of 'kitne bistaron men kitani baar' in their work. ‘Naya Gyanoday’ means ‘New Realisation of Knowledge.’

Mr. Rai, and also somehow Mr. Ravindra Kalia, the editor of the journal, prove that for them, their ‘new realisation’ is that repression of female sexuality is more acceptable for men to become themselves more sexually promiscuous. This modern-day double standard may have rather practical roots in their minds where they can use such ‘vulgar’ words to represent their reprehensible behavior. The honourable VC Rai acts in the way the fundamentalists often act. Readers can certainly mark how the socio-political fundamentalist groups often act to save their great cultures.

Recently, the TV channel Zee Chhatisgarh broadcast some undemocratic nuisance acts of the Dharm Sena, a state-based fundamentalist group. Members of the group forcefully tried to stop the celebration of Friends’ day in Raipur, the Capital of Chhatisgarh. The volunteers not only physically threatened the girls, but used vulgar language that could not even be broadcast by the TV channel when airing the report.

How can the decorum of culture be saved when fundamentalist groups and even a VC of a central university can’t control their vulgar language?

I forwarded a message on Facebook to my intellectual male and female friends separately regarding the culpable comments of vice chancellor Rai. I found it strange that all the female intellectuals and writers responded with their remonstrations but that none the male intellectuals and writers, responded -- for or against; except C.P. Aboobacker, the poet, critic and editor of Malayalam literature. Instead, the other males seemed to avoid the matter entirely, possibly thinking silence to be the best policy in this circumstance. But why?

What Feminism Is And Is Not

Feminism, to me, has often been misunderstood as a bunch of stereotyped hysterical man-hating fanatics who seek power and control rather than true equality. But to me, ‘feminism’ is not just a movement for the liberation of women, but rather a broad social movement striving for the equality of each individual worldwide. Feminism should emphasise the importance of such values as cooperation, tolerance, nurturance, and the freedom for each person to achieve her or his full potential.

I think feminism should not act in opposition to men as individuals. To me, feminism is against oppressive and outdated social structures which forces both men and women into positions which are false and antagonistic. Thus, everyone has an important role to play in the feminist movement. It seems ironic that feminism has been characterized as anti-male, when in fact, it seeks to liberate men from the macho stereotypic roles men often have to endure such as the need to suppress feelings, act aggressively, and be deprived of contact with children. I think we should emphasize our femininity rather to impose the so-called stereotyped feministic attitude of the second wave.

What Prostitution Is and Is Not

The honourable vice chancellor has uttered the word ‘prostitute’ for the Hindi women writers. Once, a poetess of Oriya litearture also asked me why I am promoting the idea of sexual rights for women. She asked me whether I wanted to promote prostitution in society or not. These are, I think, very superficial ideas that the VC or the poetess possess.

For instance, has a prostitute ever enjoyed sex any day from her profession? Is there any meaning of sexual rights for her or is she possessed so?

Prostitution is a product of ‘patriarchy’ and patriarchal culture rests on the principle that the unique duty of women is to satisfy men sexually in marriage or by prostitution. A woman as a wife is regarded with honour while a woman as a prostitute is kept away from society while her customers are not. Never does a prostitute do this by ‘choice’ or even by ‘taste.’ The beneficiaries of prostitution are not the prostitute but the pimps, dealers, customers, and all those who view sexuality as a mechanical act, deprived of reciprocity and any responsibility making those who receive the services of prostitutes agents of patriarchy.

As the original dictum of demanding sexual rights for women aims with ending sexual slavery, how can Hindi women writers be called prostitutes?

In 1998, the United Nations Organization (UNO) has declared the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is known as ‘The Rome Statute.' In its Article 7(2)(c), sexual slavery is defined by the situations where persons are forced into domestic servitude, marriage, or any other forced labour involving sexual activity, as well as the trafficking of persons, in particular women and children. So, human trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation is a major cause of contemporary sexual slavery.

To demand sexual rights and to support sexual slavery are opposite to each other. The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), in 1994 defined the sexual right for women as the right of women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.

In Conclusion

Seemingly unaware of this definition, our intellectuals and those in responsible positions are acting like fundamentalist social pundits.

But I am always optimistic. In our considered opinions, it is necessary that esteemed readers are made aware of all the implications of even any rudimentary assimilation on the part of our impressionable young people of the novel ideas from the West, including some with innocuous labels such as ‘freedom’ and ‘equality.’ This is because we must know in which direction we are applying our minds, to what purpose, and towards what end. If whatever we think and do is believed to be correct without verification, does it necessarily enable mankind to continue progressing? What do you think?