Let's talk about sex
India gave to the world its handbook on sex, but look at us squirming at its mention now.
Storks deliver babies. That is where babies come from. You don't believe me? But isn't it true? Because the land that is home to Kama Sutra and Khajuraho, today stifles the existence of sex and the other normal bodily functions associated with it. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has banned the airing of sexually titillating condom advertisements between 6 am and 10 pm. Advertisements that are educative and subtle, more like the older 'Nirodh' ads, will be permitted to ply their trade. But Sunny Leone showcasing carnal pleasures won't be allowed. See, my problem is not with the ban per se. I have an issue with the entire premise of us not being able to talk openly about sex.
Sex must be discussed in low voices and whispers. Blushing, smirking, wicked jokes, a post-coital single tear rolling off the cheek of an actress à la 'Parineeta', may all symbolise sex. Blossoming flowers, canoodling birds, heaving bosoms and impossible pelvic thrusts in Hindi film songs, all represent sex through their sly motifs.
The portrayal of sex in Indian cinema, television, and print is made through 'suggestions'. We suggest that two people on screen may have sex but we won't confirm it. There is always room for it to be something else. Remember that ridiculous scene in 'Pyaar Ke Side Effects' where drinking coffee meant having sex. We resort to innuendos because any blatant mention of sex or the passions surrounding it is looked upon as immoral, un-Indian. Any direct portrayal will be snipped by the Censor Board.
We are perhaps the most hypocritical nation, given the rich heritage of sex that we carry on our shoulders. We gave to the world its handbook on sex, but look at us squirming at its mention now. On one hand, we have the second-largest population in the world. No guesses on how we reached that landmark number. We had sex, lots and lots of it, and without protection. But while socially regressive television serials are beamed in all its glory, and filmy commercials of crassness that pass off as sex comedies take up air time, we don't want sexually rousing condom advertisements. All this is being done to protect children from wanting to have sex.
But parents should have greater worries in life today than their kids watching condom advertisements. Recent incidents of child abuse and murder throw up the urgent question of the general safety of the child, even at school. The Internet too is an open Pandora's box which gives kids access to things far more dangerous and scarring. The Blue Whale Challenge, rape videos, sex with minor videos, ways to kill someone or commit suicide; the Internet is teeming with seedy, explicit, and often harmful content.
The more we treat sex as taboo; the more it becomes incomprehensible to children and young adults. The more we talk about it, build education and awareness around it, will we be able to accept sex as just another natural phenomenon. Putting sex behind a 'purdah' will only create more curiosity around it, keep it as a forbidden topic. We need kids, young adults, and everyone else to talk more about sex, the responsibilities that come with it, the safety that is mandatory. The more we talk, the better will we understand the oldest sport in the world. So, like the American hip hop band, Salt-N-Pepa sang in the 90s, 'Let's talk about sex.'
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal.)