I came across an interesting article about a comic-pornstar who is challenging centuries of conventional wisdom regarding women and sexuality in India. It might be hard to imagine a comic-porn character as a positive role model, and perhaps positive role model is way too generous, but nonetheless Savita Bhahbi, created by Deshmukh, is presenting a virtually unheard of aspect of female sexuality in Indian culture. How? By offering a female character who is the initiator and instigator of all that happens to her sexually. Flying in the face of a strong patriarchal approach to women and sex, Savita, the comic, trades in typical and very generic porn star activity, but on her own terms. Now, you might say, this is not progress, she has simply taken on male sexual characteristics and defiled herself in turn--well, I think it is a little more complex than that. I am not advocating porn, or encouraging any particular lifestyle of sexual activity, just noting that the balance of power is shifting in the realm of the sexes and it seems to be something of a global phenomenon. It is also worth remembering that classic Indian culture advocates the patrivratra--the worship of a husband as one would worship a god, which surely brings a whole set of issues around sexuality, fulfilment and submission into play, and definitely puts things firmly in the realm of male power, which I do not think is a very good thing.
As I said, creating a comic-porn character who engages in flagrant and not necessarily healthy sexual activity has major issues that need to be addressed but as the creator said in the article,
"he set out to show that sex is a two-way street, as well as to push society toward greater openness about female sexuality. “One of the reasons for creating Savita Bhabhi was to portray that Indian women have sexual desires too,” he said. “India is a country which is still sexually repressed, and to break the shackles, it is the women of India who are going to have to come out first.”
This could be a naive way of engaging the topic, but as the article notes, India has a large viewership for Internet porn so one could see the way a person might consider this as a viable path to explore important issues. I think that my interest in the article was heightened a couple of things. Firstly, by conversations that we have been having on sex and sexuality, based on a talk given by Alain de Botton at the School of Life. The horizons of how we think about sexuality are changing and old approaches may not have the exclusivity they once did--whether that is a good or bad thing is going to be a hotly debated issue for quite some time--sex, like religion and money, is a topic that garners all kinds of responses.
The second reason I noted it here was because I think I have resisted addressing issues around human sexuality--not sure why, probably haven't wanted to wade into ridiculous and usually tired arguments about the Bible and sex, but I'm over that, I'm interested in what it means to be human and that means grappling to some extent with the implications of how we think about and practice and communicate around issues of human sexuality. Yet another book topic