heterosexuality

Aligarh (2016)

 

I’m tad late down the line, when I successfully punch down the words that, this movie has moved me.

It has moved many and that is something to say, especially from where I come from. While being late in an opinion article on a movie released in early 2016 is indeed a shortcoming– but on the brighter-side, it does offers you a kind of long-drawn perspective into what people actually think about homosexuality in India.

‘Oh this is the movie about homosexuals’, straight people who have no objection regarding homosexual orientation whatsoever, will remark and turn away, busying themselves into other ‘important stuff of their lives’. Also, it is because love outside paper, is never really important. But hey, some would say, ‘isn’t it better than open condemnation of homosexuality? Fair bargain!’ But I’m sorry to say, for me this bargain is as fair as having to choose between Trump and Clinton for Presidential Elections 2016. (Somewhere in their graves, Plato and Machiavelli sigh together).

But I’m not here to complain about heterosexuals as to why they are so selfish and wouldn’t bother to care about others because that’s just real capitalist world and I am no naive. Here is my perspective though, when you see gay prides, movies, campaigns, there is a constant ‘othering’ going on. In doing so, you’re again out-casting these people but let’s say, in a more tolerant manner under which you don’t come with your burning sticks on their doorsteps but you contain it to a level where just thinking bad thoughts about them on a deep personal level is okay enough for ‘faggot’ jokes here and there. (Concupiscence much?)

I write to these people (because honestly, with time I’ve guessed, talking to the straightout-condemners is like talking to a cow) because they co-operate but do not fully understand. Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh for one, makes a lot of things clearer on this front. To give you a brief synopsis of the film: it is a true story of a Linguistics Professor in a University which can be best characterized with the word, Past. The university which stirs and scowls when the nostalgia is stripped away, naked into the savage of definition and configurations. Though the political parties that stand like fences to the University, ensure and are often successful in an agenda to drag in all fantastic escapist beings of past, if only to send them off into one final spree from life.

Two reporters break into the house of a reputed professor, find him indecently dressed in bed with an another man. Next, the professor’s colleague barge into the room as if they had been just listening outside the door in order to look at them with faces prepared with shame, pulling off the role of an over-protective father who had just caught his adolescent daughter in the act of sex. Further, the professor is suspended next day and guess, who is not the Department Chairperson anymore. The case moves up to court. Spoiler alert: someone dies.

The professor was an introverted man. He liked listening to Lata Mangeshkar songs and was used to dunk the whole world down, with one glass of gin. Fun Fact: Lata Mangeshkar is one of the most prestigious singers in Indian music industry (if I am allowed to make such a broad categorization) and she is known to refuse songs with indiscreet lyrics; if that helps you peek into the psyche of the man. Now to us modern people-that’s a code for conservationism. ‘Conservative’: I have fought this word the moment I stepped in higher-education. I do understand that this word tends to exist for the greater good but I find it rather blind. Here, you are shy–you are conservative. I mean for the goodness’s sake, it can be the bland old ecstasy of the tough revolutionary bloods who just want to demolish structures and wouldn’t have them lingering. Reminds me of Shelley’s Ode to the west wind. Another Fun fact: I found this brilliant article which interprets Shelley’s west wind as an alternative preserver of older structures rather being the regular sweep-away tide of change. Everything that is old should not die and that includes the men who never understood the freedom of sexuality as we did. And if a man wants privacy, wouldn’t talk about sex, isn’t your regular LGBT activist–he should be left alone to live rather than die. I’m on my own path of being a professor and anyone can tell you that it is often a solitary road that lets you survive as long as it is not stripped off the dignity which defines the path. You are not a teacher if your students don’t see you as one.

I think the man died the moment they  invaded their homes with cameras. If I am to return to my psychoanalytic ways, I’ll say it is a massive attack on the ID.

Have you ever wondered why straight people in Hollywood movies, when walked in on intercourse by outsiders, startle like crazy? If I begin to ask these questions, I’ll end with questions like why are we afraid of each other’s naked bodies and why can’t we walk unclothed? These questions aren’t crazy though, the society decrees you to think that they are crazy questions. For a naked-men society, the clothed men are taboos. The answer is fear. The drive that controls your sexual appetite is the same that control your fear. And now you see the connection. It could have been any heterosexual man who was threatened with a leak of a sex tape in a society which does not tolerate sex outside the confines of marriage, let alone heterosexuality.

But that doesn’t mean we should forget the homosexuality angle completely. Homosexuality magnifies sex, which heterosexuality has been accustomed to see in a stereotypical old way. When you are raised in a society which teaches you that your very root is a crime, you tend to start believing that you are wrong and not the rule-monster society because how can you fight your own nourishment? So there you have a man, who would not have this rule-monger-er society. He would simply remove himself from the very ‘sign’ and slip into this pre-mirror stage of no signs and no father to speak in true Lacanian terms.

Drag him back into the mirror and the result is always death. Both by society and self.

The last words of the man as in conversation with a colleague, described his plans about shifting to America, where he could ultimately enjoy a life of dignity. This is extremely eerie for someone like me, whose favorite is Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.Arkady Svidrigailov calls Raskolnikov before shooting himself dead, says he is shifting to America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her body without an armour

                        Kali and her cosmic egg

Body without armour is an armour itself.

I have been thinking about it from a long time. Across time and space, in different languages of various literatures, folklore and legends—when a female sheds her armour, the society takes a bow. You might assume, I’ve been writing it all inspired by the Game of thrones episode. You’re right. Emilia Clarke did a great job in being a naked burning, Khaleesi. But Kannagi from Tamil Literature and Kali from Hindu folklore are already her predecessors.

It is also interesting to note that this naked woman, when she is accepted by the society, instantly transforms into a mother figure. The male gaze ceases. It cannot objectify its own mother. It cannot sexualize it. And yet, it is her sexuality that rages when she stands naked as if ‘She eats up men like thin air’ (Plath). Her body naked, hair open, her eyes wide open, and her legs strong. But why must she become so powerful?

I have had the privilege to study a lot of feminist literature this last semester. I wouldn’t say it doesn’t come back to me now. I can make several connections and perhaps draw conclusions from these examples as to understand why female nudity, a taboo and perversion of patriarchal society, can suddenly become a power symbol. I will dissect the very heterosexual intercourse, if I have to, for understanding this.

When a women sheds, she is horrible to some, goddess for others. She is usually angry when she steps out like that and are later tried to be contained by narratives within the patriarchal discourse, in order to make sense of the event. In Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi, Dopdi—a negated word for ‘Draupadi’, the wife of Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata—belongs to a lower caste and becomes associated with insurgency in North eastern India. However, she is caught by the Indian military and is in the process, repetitively raped by several men. In the morning, she is told to dress up and show up at the Chief’s tent. In a brave decision, she chooses to walk naked, ‘her blood matted upon her pubic hair’, becoming an unspeakable terror for the men around her. Laughing and slapping her thighs, she asks, ‘are you a man?’ for they could only unclothe her but not the other way around. Kali was Sati before she was Kali. For her husband, she mutilates her father’s party—if you like your mythology in simple happy terms—and literally danced the dance of death (Tandav) until her husband stopped her from destroying the whole wide earth because in Tandav, with each step, you bring forth apocalypse in the world. If you ignore bringing back the Kali into the patriarchal narrative, you’ll see, that her power is the most terrible of all the naked ladies. Her armour (if not clothes) is the collective set of mutilated body parts. Severed hands become her skirt and chopped off heads as her necklace. Yet we exclaim in awe, she is terribly beautiful. Her dance, her tongue, her hair black as the ravenous cloudy night, are also markers of sexuality that does not design itself upon the platform of male desire.

Kannagi comes from ancient Tamil literature and folklore. Like Kali, she is a goddess too, although she was born a human. As a human, Kannagi had a good share of injustice being done to her. Her husband cheats on her and has a kid with another women. Yet she has to leave with him, hoping for his loyalty when he finally decides to switch back to her. But most importantly when things finally start looking up, her husband gets executed on a false conspiracy. Bam—women have limits you know? So she rips off her breast and fire burns the city. Kings die, the empire collapses.

Danny from Game of Thrones, had two naked-power-lady scenes. The first is birth of dragons and the second is burning of several Dothraki men when they threatened to rape her or simply, decide upon her life. Immune to fire, she burns them down and emerges naked, the figure of awe. Her narrative as well is confirmed to the figure of mother.

To move away from mythology, Mario Vargos llosa’s Who killed Palomino Molero, the restaurant keeper’s wife challenges a harassing police officer into ‘raping’ her by undressing and making lewd gestures at him at the end of the novel, in an epic break from submissive-timid persona.

All these women place themselves outside normal structure when they do so. You might as well call them Unconscious personified. I’m not referring to Freud’s sharp division of rational and non-rational, rather, I would like you to read it as categorical (Super-ego) and non-categorical (Unconscious). When she steps out of society’s categories, she can manifest her sexuality beyond male gaze. Now as to why must men be afraid of it? The answer lies in heterosexual intercourse.

Heterosexual intercourse in a patriarchal society is phallocentric. ‘Penetration’, ‘Key’ ‘Digging’, such is the imagery implied in this line under which women are bound to be the object. However, this is inversed when she steps out of this structure. She is a horror show, a freak. Yet people bow to her in fear. This is because of her capability to invert society’s patriarchal taboos (Luce Irigaray actually argues that women do not have a properly developed Superegos in comparison to men who go through castration complexes) and instead of ‘penetrating space’, she becomes the ‘devourer’. Not to put it too poetically, but she is able to suck back men right from the space from where she put them out. Should it then, not turn men into infants, reminded by the astounding power of womb?

Ace.