Lights, Camera, Action – Watching Pornography in India is a part of the ‘sex-rated’ series that VICE India released recently. The series highlights the hypocrisy around sexuality in India – to talk or not to talk, or even better – to do and not to talk! Rytasha Rathore does a good job at exploring the taboos around sex talk and also slides in snippets of her own expressions of sensuality and sexuality.
From women who comment on the Indian fetish for bhabhis (sisters-in-law) to people who are on the opposite ends of the porn debate, the video is an anthology that features the lives of Shais, an aspiring pornstar, Mishra ji, the creator of the ‘Har Har Mahadev’ app that redirects porn users to religious hymns (yes, you read that right!) and Pranaadhika, an activist working with victims of revenge porn and abuse, who talks about how pornography for women and by women can appeal to a woman’s sensibilities.
banning public displays of affection, the existing stigma around sex out of wedlock, and the concept of a ‘bastard child’ are all fallacies of the human mind.
The first scene can win hearts as, while we talk about the topic that could win an Oscar for being contentious, the location this is set up in is Varanasi – The Land of Sadhus! And not to miss the ‘Sneeze of Rejection’ by a dog, who probably thinks that banning public display of affection, the existing stigma around sex out of wedlock, and the concept of a ‘bastard child’ are all fallacies of the human mind.
The scene is clearly a metaphor for the irony we all live in. We create a cocktail of disaster when we try to mix tradition and culture with our own natural urges. While we pretend to be evolved in the process, we probably end up dehumanising ourselves.
India is the third most porn watching country in the world. Remember – Google Baba knows everything. Searches from ‘hot kissing’ and ‘hot videos’ to Bhabhi porn are all over what Indians search on Google, and we don’t want to talk about it. But Shais, aged 23, from New Delhi, does not only want to talk about it but also be the first gay pornstar! And he is a Muslim. Oops! Double paap (sin), in his own words. When asked “Should porn be legal?”, he responded with a more than sure, “Yes”. Making porn legal inversely impacts the industry that circulates child abuse as porn, uses MMSes from trial rooms and hotel rooms as threatening tools to women.
Then comes my favourite snippet from the video – the anchor moves to Varanasi in Mishra Ji’s office to discover the modus operandi of turning the unsanskaari into sanskaari.
In a country like India, where people sexually assault and use rape as a tool of power, redirecting Porn sites to ‘Har Har Mahadev’ will simply not help.
Digital zamana hai (It’s a digital age), so Mishraji (with a full fledged team – of men, of course!) experienced a ‘Eureka’ moment and invented the Har Har Mahadev app. What does it do? You go to a porn site and it redirects you to religious hymns, images, and lectures and he proudly demonstrates his ‘Aha’ moment too. While Rytasha only passes this off with a sarcastic smile, I would have surely smashed his computer!
Here are his enlightening thoughts on pornography: “Pornography is hampering all of us. This app is not just for blocking sites but will change behaviour.”
The cherry on the cake? It plays Azaan too! (Hungry for secularism anyone?)
My sincere thoughts to Mishraji – In a country which is the most populated (note: people must have had enough sex to attain that position), where the increasing numbers of rape-cases have become a horrifying reality (note: where people sexually assault and use rape as a tool of power), where sexual violence of all kinds is prevalent irrespective of religion, class, caste and location, let’s face it – redirecting porn sites to Har Har Mahadev will simply not help.
What it will do is further mysticise sex . Since you can’t practically block every site, it will still catch those ‘innocent children’ you claim to ‘rescue’, by surprise and might just end up traumatising them because it would be strange and unfamiliar to them. Shaming people for watching pornography or talking about sex will only help bury their desires which might surface later in a beastly fashion (mostly behind closed doors). In his own words, “In the world, there is no other solution to porn addicts, except Har Har Mahadev”. This almost sounds like the digital version of religious sanctions and Khap panchayats.
Pornography is not a foreign influence, definitely not in the country where ‘Kamasutra’ was written.
Pranaadhika, on the other hand, explicitly talks about how mainstream porn has only addressed male fantasies and hence most of it is violent in the form of abuse videos that perpetuate rape culture. And so, she works along with others (women, of course!) to create new generation content created by women, for women including Boudoir photography/modelling.
While all this looks at how women can be in charge of their own erotic desires, it also maintains that women need not be degraded or be the subject of male fantasies in terms of how she needs to look, pose and what she needs to wear. A truly unsanskaari initiative for sure!
The video adeptly deals with the idea that Indians are also humans, and hence any desire that is natural to human beings, is natural to us too. Pornography is not a foreign influence, definitely not in the country where Kamasutra was written. No, it is not an attack on our sabhyata (culture). No, Khajuraho was not built by Europeans or anyone else. It was us, our culture, our religion, our everything. So please stop the Shhhh! and the shame around sex.
Featured Image Source: Vice India