Saturday, November 19, 2005

What's Sex Got To Do With It

.. with honor, that is?

We've been distracted this past month and only now have a moment to surface and return to blogging.

The most interesting topic while we were away were comments by young Indian women on sex. Film star Khushboo & Tennis star Sania have stirred up a royal row with their honest views on "pre-marital sex".

There is much hypocrisy in India that masquerades as public prudery -- all the while, behind closed doors, reality is quite different.

It's time for Indians to face up to the post-modern existence of our urban youth. Given how complex people's lives are, it is absurd to impose on us social mores from a less hurried and a long-lapsed time.

Perhaps the new moral code is not eternal marriage, but serial monogamy. The former has long been about social consent and ceremony, the latter about individual happiness and a state of mind. We ourselves favor happiness!

Having said this, erosion of an institution as long-lived as marriage is not a trivial thing. The long-term implications of such erosion need careful weighing -- for the individuals involved, and for society as a whole. Afterall, we do not have collective and inherited wisdom on handling such a transition.

This is a discussion worth having. Shutting up Khushboo and Sania does little towards this end.


doubtinggaurav said...


Why stop at Serial Monogamy ?

Many people will find happiness in what is euphemistically called alternative lifestyle.

Let's discuss that also.


Laks said...

Perhaps the new moral code is not eternal marriage, but serial monogamy.
Nice statement. Nice post.

Jaffna said...

Primary Red, Gaurav

Your comments are food for thought.

This said, I am not sure whether the institution of marriage, broadly defined, is being eroded in India. Much of India, like the rest of the Indian sub-continent, is deeply traditional and the notion of family is very much entrenched in its fiber. This is not to say that "pre-marital sex" and "extra-marital sex" are not widespread. Both have existed since time immemorial. But to suggest that the idea of "serial monogamy" is about to replace marriage in urban South Asia might be premature. In fact a somewhat recent poll published by India Abroad suggested that while most Pakistanis placed highest emphasis on their religion, most Indians considered family as the most important factor in their lives. And marriage, however, you may define it, is the foundation of family.

This said, the freedom of speech is sacrosanct. Khushboo and Sania Mirza have an unchallenged right to their opinion. It is interesting that both are outspoken and accomplished Indian Muslim women who have done extremely well in their respective careers. The Dalit, Dravidian and Islamic fundamentalist groups have attacked one or both of them but this in itself is perhaps refreshing. It is now evident that these moribund and obscurantist groups evidently have no other meaningful cause to espouse in the early years of the 21st century.

I would like to end with reference to the early Hindu law books which highlighted two types of valid "marriage" i.e the Brahma and the Gandharva (actually there were eight but let us simplify this). The former institution was one based on societal sanction, established civil ceremony and was envisaged as a life long commitment. The latter was merely based on a physical relationship between two consenting adults and not a formal sacrament. The Gandharva union was considered just as legitimate as the Brahma partnership for purposes of the law. Victorian prudishness had only momentarily eclipsed that inheritance, one which was always protected in our traditional law books. Modernity is about options which gives the individual the freedom to choose his or her lifestyle. I would not consider this as a clash between "marriage" and "serial monogamy" as you would put it. But I am all for an enlightened humanism that allows for individual options.


doubtinggaurav said...


My earlier comment was more in way of snark.

If your position is that it is absolutely right for any individual to say anything
then Khushboo and Sania have a right to say what they want, but so do those protestors.
(Here I am not going into arguements of the matter.)
Those groups did whatever they did in non violent manner withot harming the ladies.
If the ladies wanted they could have stuck to their stand, but they did not.

What troubles me is that people who take absolute positions
for freedom indulge in contradiction using labels such as "Moral Police" .
Should I call them "PC Brigade" ?

How is this behaviour any different from any other absolutist ideology (including,ironically that of protestors) ?

Regarding Marriage, at the risk of being branded uncool for my rest of life, I think Marriage and family are foundation of society.
(A view which Shobha Day shares with me)

Serial monogamy has worn off as a novelty (along with free love, open marriage and other post- victorian catechism).

By trying to demolish social structures in order to have unfettered freedom to persue sensual pleasure is what plagues western civilization.

Unless West reaffirm faith in society it will sink more and more into morass of decadence.

Problem with west is that it is founded on prinicple of absolutism, which means in religion, as in philosphy or in science it does not have a place for dissidence.
In less exalted times any divergence meant swift and higly uncomfortable death.
Today it has evolved to brand you detractors as Nazi.
Unfortunately edicated elite in India accept anything western as gospel, which means India will continue to remain second rate nation internalizing second handed theories.



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