(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
India’s largest collective of ‘never nudes’ and principal opposition party, the BJP, has been on an important mission this week. After years of infighting, backstabbing, double crossing, embarrassing displays of public disagreements, they finally found a unifying issue. From the party President to the party worker; from MP to MLA. Even the different ‘camps’ within the party decided to temporarily suspend all hostilities to participate in the fight against the huge plague that has usurped large parts of the country and threatens to shake its very foundation, leaving in its wake nothing but awfulness and depravity. At last, someone in this country dares to take on the evil scrooge of pre-marital sex. Wipe your tears, unchain your kids and come out of your bunkers, everyone. Help is on its way.
While discussing the anti-sexual assault law, the BJP and other opposition parties insisted that the age of consent for sexual intercourse be raised from 16 to 18. Because if there is one thing teenagers are good at, it’s following rules imposed on them by unlikeable authority figures.
Apparently, our lawmakers confused ‘passing legislation against sexual violence’ with ‘passing legislation against sex.’ And the whole conversation turned towards the morality of pre-marital sex and how people who are doing it without first telling their parents and a thousand of their closest friends & relatives are the worst people in the world. The campaign against sex would have been more effective if - instead of having him appear on teevee all day embarrassing himself and his party - they’d distributed free packets of condoms with Venkaiah Naidu’s face printed on the cover.
We need to have a conversation about sex in this country because it seems like even the adults don’t seem to know much about it. The BJP thinks children are born nine months after a married couple visits a temple and a yellow rose falls onto their lap. The BSP believes that erections are only for statues. And the SP imagines that the best way to bring new life into this world is to have one of their ministers ‘confiscate’ it from anyone who dares to cross them. The central government didn’t have anything to contribute to this discussion except a couple of bored head nods. Who cares if the law contains provisions which exacerbate the problem? They want to be seen doing ‘something’ because it provides them with enough cover from public criticism. Principles are for people without ‘coalition compulsions.’
We need to have a conversation about sex in this country because trying to stop teenagers from having sex is like trying to stop Ram Gopal Varma from making terrible movies. No matter how much you ask them to cease and desist, their resolve is only going get stronger. So, instead of turning a simple bodily function into a forbidden fruit that they should feel guilty about partaking in, we should be providing them with the proper information so that they can practice it safely. Instead of making them feel like a criminal for wanting it, let them realize that sex is just another activity-like playing scrabble or throwing darts-that two (or more!) people can enjoy doing together. And if they actually do face a problem, they might even turn to you for help because they would remember you not being a judgemental asshole before.
We need to have a conversation about sex in this country because for a majority of our populace, the concept of people having a right over their own bodies is something that is quite hard to grasp. It’s a slippery slope. One day you’re letting people decide which orifices of their bodies they can put things in and the next day you’re living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, searching for a source of water which hasn’t yet been poisoned by radiation.
People waste too much time being tense about what ‘nefarious activities’ they imagine other people are participating in.
If only there was some way to release all that tension.