Sexual awareness is something humans around the world share. We come into it in the same way, we are curious about it in much the same way. Experimentation with the new sense of self is a preoccupation with teenagers around the world.
And that is natural. It is like exploring the space where a tooth was, with your tongue, or testing the edge of the emerging tooth.
It is changes in the body and instincts that we reorient our sense of self around. Some of the most important years in life in terms of personality.
This is actually sad, because the natural instinct of any animal, humans included is to reach maturity and begin preparing for reproduction – on a biological, hormonal level. Emotionally, it is a time of a lot of suppressed desires. The new self image is quite fragile and needs the reassurance of being “functional” – as in, capable of attracting a mate and having a relationship.
Whether the relationship lasts is immaterial, courtship is a natural instinct. However, our society looks down on it as something undesirable.
This largely stems from old fashioned concerns about the woman being “used”, meaning, had sex with and abandoned – often pregnant. So it is actually a protective norm gone way out of its original context.
From advising women to refuse men “physical relations” as sex is euphemised, to forbidding, monitoring and controlling the contact of unmarried girls with men, this is a journey that is taking us down the rabbit hole where interacting with men “unnecessarily” or for pleasure is seen as a mark of “bad character”.
The choice is very clearly between losing respect or acting on desire.
Add to this the increasing corporate culture and stress on being self-sufficient before marriage and increasing inflation and the age of marriage has moved past 30 for many people.
I have even heard match making mamas chitter among each other that settling down before marriage is such greate incentive for becoming secure in life! The classic carrot and stick circus.
What people don’t realize in this process is the physical, emotional and psychological toll it takes to not do something that is a spontaneous instinct.
And this is a cause of great frustration among young people. Why young people? Even with 30 something unmarried people. Sex is taboo.
The age old service that prostitutes have been providing for mankind for precisely these reasons is now under attack from both sides. The traditional view sees it as immoral while the modern view sees it as the mark of a person unable to attract a woman.
In essence, if you are living with family, you can expect to be ready for sex sometime around 14 years of age, and not get it till about twice that age – usually longer. Those who don’t live with family have it slightly easier from the lack of immediate shame and taboos.
It is difficult to realize the extent to which this suppression of natural instincts disturbs the victims. Some rebel, some break off ties, others get into aggressive, repetitive arguments. Still others entertain themselves with passing women.
#Eveteasing is a crime of opportunity and aggression. One way or the other, the suppressed feelings will explode out. There are many who hunger for a woman so much, that they end up staring at women they see and knowing that it is wrong, they will create explanations about how that particular target is not worthy of respect or in other words, allowed.
It is a process of suffering and dishing out anger too. When a part of the mind is preoccupied with something it cannot legitimately get, the mind is disturbed and overloaded causing irritation and anger to spill over into their interactions with people.
Women are no longer people, but objects of entertainment to be judged and abused. And not just women, it is about anyone who seems to be an opportunity to get sexual experiences. Grandmothers and small children have been raped too!!! It isn’t at all about actions inviting rape. That is an excuse.
Most people get angry with predatory men, and there are calls for severe punishments ranging from intricate tweaks of laws to make them more stringent to demanding that police act more strictly against complaints, to outright recommendations of castration for rapists.
Without calling any method of punishment better or worse, I want to stress that punishment, however light or severe is post facto. A heavy punishment will be some deterrence, but a bully rarely sees himself in negative light, so doesn’t think of himself as criminal for the deterrence to matter.
On the other hand, I do see how a strong, well publicized punishment goes a long way than mere words. In any case, these are punishments. They rarely get to the root of what causes such criminals to be formed in society.
We need to get real about these things. While it is important that young adults are safe, it creates more problems than it solves if we go the other end of the scale and police them for something as natural as attraction and developing relationships. It only leads to hidden affairs and increased risk rather than decreased. Or it adds to suppressed sexual desires causing frustrations that warp other aspects of behaviour.
It creates a classic sour grapes mentality around women. We see already that misogyny has gone beyond being an attitude to being a very real danger to women with many instances of life threatening harm or deaths. The methods of victimization can be physical/mental or actual physical attacks or murders. The common fact, whether it is a catcall or a rape+murder is simple and obvious – the woman is overruled about her own self.
I am in no way excusing criminals, but I do think that in the process of segregating genders and shaming attraction, we deprive our own of very vital tools for dealing functionally with the other gender, as well as the much needed interactions that are so important for mental well being.
And not just about sex. Hot tempered, intolerant people about anything. A person with frustrated desires is irritable and looking for ways to push people away. Doesn’t take too long to categorize large swathes of people as one kind and be angry with them for their real or imagined qualities.
The woman of today is very different from the women of twenty years ago. And still different from one thirty years ago, and so on. The world has opened to women. Opportunities, responsibilities, freedoms beyond anything women might have imagined thirty years before.
As such, traditional attitudes around marriage are often unfair, because they don’t appreciate the expanding influence of the woman that didn’t exist earlier, and their recommendations for women are often very unreasonable for a working woman.
Yet, without the socialization, very few couples actually get time to integrate with each other and families and the marriage is very often quite similar to a leap of faith.
And there IS no reason why all this should happen. It really is not necessary at all to interfere in the sexual life of someone else – unless you are their partner and thus subject to their choices.
A father once berated me for saying such things, because according to him, something like this will get his daughter pregnant by a creep, her life destroyed. This is not true.
If a woman is likely to get attracted to a creep, I think it is much better she have an affair with him openly than hide and eventually marry and remain tied to him. If children are not budy hiding from parents, vital conversations around morality, safe sex, emotional needs etc can happen and empower young people to make far more responsible choices.
Like I mentioned, contraception exists, and even if it fails, it really isn’t the end of the world enough for the girl any more. Social acceptability is improving, as are the opportunities for earning and independence for women.
Most importantly, it is still better than a daughter pregnant and married to a creep.
It is a fallacy to think that shaming people from having relationships actually prevents them – it only renders some young people more vulnerable to other people who may exploit them.
It gives legitimacy to people victimizing women who are open about their relationships as though the woman is a public object without the right to have preferences or refuse.
Very important. What does it mean, when we design our world so that fertile, interested people are kept away from each other by design for their most reproductive years and most intense desires?
What a depressing thought that if you are fourteen when you hit puberty, you have the duration of your life so far stretched ahead before you actually do anything about that ability.
Founder at Aam Janata
Vidyut has a keen interest in mass psychology and using it as a lens to understand contemporary politics, social inequality and other dynamics of power within the country. She is also into Linux and internet applications and servers and has sees technology as an important area India lacks security in.
Latest posts by Vidyut (see all)
- Open letter to the Chief Justice of India - April 13, 2019
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