To me, the most memorable scene in Dev D is the one where Paro takes a mattress from home and ties it to her cycle. When she reaches the edge of the field, she abandons the cycle, lifts the mattress on her shoulder and marches to the clearing where she lays it down and waits for her lover. There are no words spoken and the camera holds her face close. Her expression is one of intense seriousness. You can see her desire is a field force of intensity that fuels every step. She is determined to see it through, to let that desire take over herself completely; not surrender to it but to let it explode out of her. You know that when she meets Dev, the sex would be passionate and powerful. And yet, in the south Delhi multiplex where I was watching the film, most of the audience burst into rapacious laughter. The women smiled embarrassedly at each other. Which made me wonder, why is female desire a laughing matter?
I thought back to the movie and that scene because even now, in the last seven weeks that we have been talking about sex, sexuality, power, passion and crime, we are still, yet to talk about female desire. In the conversations about rape that we have had, there have been infinite references to provocation. That if women dress a certain way, they are “asking for it.” To my mind, what this means is that men don’t know when we are really asking for it. Because if I was “asking for it”, it would be a lot more than showing cleavage, or leg. If I am asking for it, dude, you will know it.
When did desire become a male privilege? There is so little conversation about a woman’s desire for sex that a lot of people simply assume it doesn’t exist. A Times of India article last month starts with this surprising headline, Women too have high sex drive. Did you not know that? To my mind, understanding that there is such a thing as female desire is essential to knowing how we behave. There has, rightly, been a call for the Indian film industry, especially Bollywood, to introspect how it depicts its women. The whole “chhed-chhad” business, the near stalker-ish behaviour that Hindi film heroes indulge in does influence how men on the streets behave. That it gives that boorishness credibility. And eventually, the girl succumbs. What is important to the girl, it suggests, is acceptance. She does not desire. She does not chase. She does not acknowledge, even to herself, that she wants this man. She gives in, relents, submits.
Truth is, female desire is as much a brute force as male desire. Sometimes it takes us by surprise, often we relent to it. Some of us take risks to indulge our desire. Some of us fight it, telling ourselves why this particular one is not good for us. It occurs to us just as randomly as it does to men. When we watch a movie, read a book, walk down the street, see someone hot, at the pub drinking, at the temple praying. Sometimes we fabricate it, filling our head with fantasies. Sometimes we deny it. Sometimes we fake it. Sometimes it’s a coiled spring. Sometimes it’s a warm breeze. But what is important for you to know is that we feel it. We know what it is.
In an early episode of Girls, one of the characters reads from a dating manual. “Sex from behind is degrading. He should want to look at your beautiful face,” she reads. To which the other asks, “what if I want something different? What if I want to feel like I have udders?” Because, you know, sometimes we do. In Saudi Arabia, where laughably a lot of people seem to think there are no rapes because women are “properly attired”, the intense segregation of the sexes makes us turn our desires to other women. Don’t believe me? Read Seba Al-Herz’s book, The Others. Because no matter what you believe, you can’t put a burqa on a thought or wrap a hijab around a feeling.
We probably don’t talk about what we desire enough. But we certainly think about it. So this will probably come as a surprise to you. When you proposition us, on the road, in the bus, or at a movie theatre, and we say no, we are not saying that we don’t feel any desire. We are simply saying that it’s not you who we desire.
Veena Venugopal is a journalist in Delhi. She is the author of the book Would You Like Some Bread With That Book, published by Yoda Press in 2012. She is a contributing writer for Quartz and Mint. This piece first appeared at Kafila
2Abhishek: Men & women are different and feminism and masculinism are both puerile.
Women are superior in some ways and men are, in other ways.
Equality actually, is a silly concept unless it is about human rights.
If we attempt to look for equal representation, in coal mine workers, we would be doomed.
Egalitarianism is childish.
Watch - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26QxO49Ycx0
@Meursault: Actually feminists are horribly depressed that the Delhi gang rape triggered a bunch of protests aginst everything but men.
The fact that men AND women together hit out at a common enemy, the state, wouldn't have gone down well with the feminists who were dying for the class wars ideology to take off.
This article is, pardon my language, unadulterated Bullcrap!
Songs don't cause rape just like your clothes don't.
Malaika Arora isn't asking for it, just like you aren't through your cleavage exposing clothes.
Stalking and perseverence are two different things. My dad pursued my mother, who is hardly submissive and comes from a matriarchal community, for quite a few years.
If bollywood mixes the 2 up, so do any number of morons. You give bollywood too much importance. It is not that important & stalking would happen with or without it.Nothing wrong with ched chad either. Stop being such a sanctimonious turkey.
Ched chad would depend on the man attempting to pull of the flirting & the woman he directs it towards. When short, stocky hairy, hook nosed Italian men chase after every skirt they can see our Desi women go ape shit over them.
I have seen an Indian american girl pay for her & her white BF's movie tickets. Great! The idea of buying tickets and paying for your date is fine by me. But I have never seen it happening when Indian girls date Indian men. The truth is, this ched chad issue is a complex issue & some men pull it off , others don't.
Can an adult woman rape an adult man hetereosexually ? If we talk in generalities, it doesn't happen frequently . In USA, the last case was of a US marine accusing a pregnant woman of raping him after drugging him. However, in generalized terms if that happens it is a rare case of rape. Believing so makes us commonsensical
Do men have a higher sex drive than women. The answer is Yes in generalized terms.
If one says this generalized truth, feminazis will ridicule that person. For feminazis, men and women are equal. Here's a truth for you - Men and women are NOT equal. Better live with the fact.
It is pretty tragic. Because people believe a certain perception, the idea of rape is prevalent. Men don't think about 'forced sex', because they believe sex to be not bad, but extremely well meaning. And men marry, to express this well meaning. Women are telling their husbands, brothers, fathers about their insecurity, when their menfolk might find it hard to comprehend. I am not married, and I cannot understand this insecurity. If I get married, I feel that the terror I can experience, when I can perceive this, will not be there. And, if a man can feel like he has married, and has had sex, and if female people in his family are insecure, then it is his problem, and his issue. Are we machines to make parts for our economy, so that they work efficiently? The govt. doesn't bother if a woman has differences with her father, they want women to get married, and they encourage it if women want to get divorced. This is no advantage to any woman. This is extremely disadvantageous. People feel, anything is an advantage to the woman. More so, when men are supposed to be obliged to the perception, and feel that if women are hurt even emotionally, then they are to agree. Rape is more an emotional trauma, than physical. It is degradation, when people who are in govt. talk in a manner, when they are not one of us. They will not experience insecurity, and they see others as victims of insecurity, or promoting it.
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