Friday, August 11, 2006

Repressed Desi

Desis are known to have rather curious notions about sex and sexuality. The pati-vrata Sita stereotype is very much in currency but the male of the species neglects to emulate the ideal husband role-model that was Ram. We were not always sexually repressed and there is ancient Sanskrit erotica, sculptures in Khajuraho and Konark - not to mention the Kamasutra that bear testimony to our once uninhibited past. The physical expression of love was considered a natural progression in a relationship between two people - an expression celebrated in joyous variation. It was also the path to attaining higher spritual consciousness.

There were also sage prescriptions for creating and keeping a happy home. Somewhere between the emasculation of women and veiling them behind the "purdah" to preserve their virtue from the pillaging hordes that came with each wave of foreign invasion and the Victorian notions of romantic love that eschewed physical intimacy as coarse and vulgar expression of love, we desis got our act quite fouled up. We assimilated the "purdah" and the serenades below the beloved's bedroom window but discarded Vatsayna and the Meghdutam.
As a civilization and a culture we started out with strong fundamentals, the most vexatious questions of the human existence were already answered. Whereas the rest of the world had yet to stumble, fall and learn we were fortune to have a compendious body of knowledge handed to us. Yet we chose to discard the wisdom of the ancients and learn from nascent civilizations. We were convinced that we were uncivilized heathens that worshipped Gods with multiple heads and limbs and needed to get modernized.

We traded our sexual spontaneity for repression, the celebration of a woman's physical beauty for prudery that required her to turn asexually unattractive to prove her fidelity to one man. We have retrogressed from a liberal past where Draupadi could have five husbands and still have her dignity as a woman and a wife unsullied to a time when
fatwas are issued over mini-skirts. Strangely enough the burgeoning presence of the "moral police" does nothing for the dignity of the average desi women who continue to be molested and raped.

The modern day desi male is aghast to hear a desi female articulate her sexual preferences. He acts out his fantasies with phone sex operators, or cybersex partners but will cringe at the very thought of sharing any of it with his wife. Lord Krishna sets an impossibly high standard for a would be desi Casanova and he rises to the occasion by being physically and emotionally unavailable to the one woman he is married to even as he days dreams
Walter Mitty-like of the thousands he would have ravished had he not been such a "loyal" husband.

A repressed desi makes a confused desi as well. The female is torn between her conditioning to be make a "good, virtuous" desi wife and her desire to express her sexuality freely. The modern desi male does not believe in "arranged marriages, astrologers, horoscopes and the whole enchilada". He wants to date, live-in, test the waters before taking the plunge. And that is all wonderful and western expect that he seeks a desi female to date and live-in with.
Should he find that woman, her very acquiescence to this arrangement is the all proof he needs of her being a slut (i.e. not the kind of woman he could bring home as wife to introduce to his holy mother and holier sister). So we have this hapless duo the "slut" and the free-thinking, westernized, progressive, liberal desi-male who never quite make it to the state of holy matrimony and beyond.

Needless to say, even while the domestic partnership is in effect the sex is not anything to write home about, remember we're desi, morally, ethically, spiritually superior and all that. Did I mention highly repressed and very confused ?


ggop said...

Should he find that woman, her very acquiescence to this arrangement is the all proof he needs of her being a slut

- The above statements is so true. I've known desi guys who moved in with their (non desi) girlfriends and it raised an eyebrow. I wonder what would have happened if it was a desi girl moving in with her boyfriend. Our double standards are so awful.

SFGary said...

A sociologist cuz of mine back home said that the mores you refer to are a middle class invention. The poor and the rich don't live by it.

Recently I read and hear that things are changing back home, especially among the young urban Indians. In the U.S. I do think it is changing rapidly among the first generation desis.

The problem is with the immigrant generation, whether they came 30 years ago or yesterday, we carry too much baggage. Even here it is a question of how much we "grow" up emotionally and intellectually.

Heartcrossings said...

gg - desi dude living with a firang girl gives him the bragging rights for the rest of his life. All desi women he dates will hear about it in great detail. He will tell them he is so over cheap thrills now and is looking to "settle" - a term whose gravitas only desis will be able to fathom :)

sfg - repression and anxiety about morals and morality is always a middle class condition. The rich don't give a damn and the poor have the freedom of those who have nothing left to lose.

I guess the operating definition of middle class(and as such ability to identify with it) is challenging where you could have a lifestyle funded via credit card debt...

SFGary said...

I'll be joining the latter group pretty soon if I don't get my start up started up. Maybe I'll lose my MCM, if any,at that point.