Saturday, February 13, 2016

When a man sees a woman ...

As I look back at my angst-filled teenage years from the comfortable distance of my middle age, I can see that sex was one of the greatest sources of angst.  Sex seemed to be everywhere, and yet there were structures in place to make sure that there would be no outlet for those basic instincts.  I would think that even in contemporary India a typical young male (I can only speak for my heterosexual kind) can relate to all that, and even to this essay on "The Sexual Misery of the Arab World":
Today sex is a great paradox in many countries of the Arab world: One acts as though it doesn’t exist, and yet it determines everything that’s unspoken. Denied, it weighs on the mind by its very concealment.
That paradox generates a great deal of tensions, within the body and out in society.  The following that the writer has to say about the Arab World could easily describe India too:
Desire has no outlet, no outcome; the couple is no longer a space of intimacy, but a concern of the whole group. The sexual misery that results can descend into absurdity and hysteria. Here, too, one hopes to experience love, but the mechanisms of love — encounters, seduction, flirting — are prevented
A few years ago, when visiting Chennai, I was shocked to read news reports about the police arresting young people holding hands and attempting to kiss at one of the public parks.  Seriously, the cops had nothing better to do?

A white woman friend and her white husband (I am intentionally stressing on the "white") from this town are big time Indophiles and, over the years, have visited India seven or eight times, spending three to four months during each visit.  The woman is more than a decade older than me.  She once joked that in India, the young men hit on her too.  Well, there is a reason.

In trying to understand the reason, consider what happened in Cologne, Germany on New Year's Eve:
That night, gangs of young men, mainly asylum-seekers, formed rings around women outside Cologne station and then robbed and sexually assaulted them. More than 600 women reported to the police that they had been victimised.
Young men, from the Arab world.
Migrants are no more likely to commit crimes than natives. But it would be otherworldly to pretend that there is no tension between the attitudes of some and their hosts. European women cherish their rights to wear what they like, go where they like and have sex or not have sex with whom they please. No one should be allowed to infringe these freedoms.
Cologne did not simply happen, nor was the local white woman friend accidentally hit on.  How do we begin to explain that?
with the latest influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, the pathological relationship that some Arab countries have with women is bursting onto the scene in Europe.
A pathological relationship with the female kind!

I have a difficult time in a class on diversity that I teach every year--I have to make sure that students think about issues from multiple perspectives without giving away my own opinions on such matters.  Thus, of course, in the class my task is only to force them to think about how they would begin to understand the differences across the culture--even when I know well that I believe it is not kosher to treat women as property, which is the case in the traditional societies be they Islamic or Hindu.  Unless that pathological issue is addressed,"The path to orgasm runs through death, not love."


Ramesh said...

Yup - agree with all that you have written. Sexual "oppression" is a major problem in many parts of the world.

Its a problem of hormones over societal mores - hormones mostly win. It does not help that every major religion has place huge taboos and ridiculous restrictions on sexual relationships.

Tough one, this one.

Sriram Khé said...

"taboos and ridiculous restrictions" ... indeed. It appears that quite a few of the believers are launching some serious rearguard action, and it looks like it will be a few more years before that dies down ...

Anne in Salem said...

Is there a generational difference in views of women within the sexually restrictive religions? For example, within many Christian denominations, the mores of the youth vary significantly from those of the elders on many topics - pre-marital sex, abortion, etc. Is this true in Hinduism and Islam? Will views and practices change as the old guard passes on and younger, perhaps more progressive, men gain power?

Sriram Khé said...

"Will views and practices change as the old guard passes on and younger, perhaps more progressive, men gain power?"

That is the gazillion dollar question ... In India, for instance, it seems like moral policing is on the rise and this is generating tensions as well ... as one who values liberty, my issue is less about what morals people want to practice and more about the restrictions that are placed on people, especially on women. What comes across as a reversal in Turkey under the current government/politics seems more and more likely across the vast population in Asia and Africa ...

Most read this past month