30 July 2008

Blank Noise Spectators Special

The public on the street comprises of those who 'experience' street sexual harassment, i.e. the survivors; those who cause street sexual harassment i.e the perpetrators and those who witness street sexual harassment i.e the spectators.

Blank Noise Spectators Special asks members of the public, both men and women to share what they witnessed. What was your first reaction? Was it to intervene? Was it to ignore? What did you do? What would you rather have done? Can you share your thoughts about being a spectator. If you have been a 'special spectator' , that is, intervened in the situation, please tell us how! Was it with wit and humour? Or did physically assault the 'perpetrator'? Did you walk away? Or call the cops? Or gather a crowd? Or see another spectator take charge of the situation and participate in any way.

To participate in this online event please register by emailing us at blurtblanknoise@gmail.com subject titled Blank Noise Spectators Special. Link this post to your blog, and send in your blog address. We will add you to the list at http://blog.blanknoise.org
Deadline for your post on being a spectator is August 15th.

This event hopes to be one in the series of events planned in bringing together 'survivors'(http://blanknoiseactionheroes.blogspot.com), 'perpetrators' (male only event coming soon) and 'spectators'.

In spirit!

Blank Noise Team

7 July 2008

As Counsel, to Ms Taneja

Our psychoanalyst friends will have us believe that sexual instincts are the strongest amongst all that we possess, indeed, that all others stem from it, it being the root cause of all our motivations, feelings, emotions and ailments. Yes, even ailments and diseases, for links have been established between unfulfilled desire and common illnesses such as stomach aches, ulcer and cold! These desires are ostensibly asexual, but their origins lie in the mires of sexuality. Indeed, a child’s love for his/her parents too has been analysed as one full of sexual desires and wants.

These contentions, though shocking, offending and earth-shaking, are in the most not unreasonable/difficult for the lay(wo)man to understand, provided, of course, that s/he puts aside her/his feeling of outrage and dispassionately employs her/his faculties. Humans, after all said and done, are animals- the garb of civilisation and ensuing morality and ethics with which they cloak themselves is just a natural consequence of their myriad customs, traditions, ideas and conventions, all of these being in turn inspired and supported by ideologies which nobody else but they themselves have invented for their own gains. So comes the essentially patriarchal concept of marriage, of the subordination of women in this institution (notice that man remains man but the woman becomes a wife, a creature found not in nature but in society which is nurtured by sets of abiding ideologies). So comes the concept of the parent’s so-called pure and self-sacrificing love for his/her child, this being remarkable a mixture of survival instincts and social gendering. So indeed comes the notion of devotion, of bhakti, all of which is naught but an attempt to divert unfulfilled sexual desires and channelize sexual energy towards a futile and socially ‘safe’ (read unthreatening) goal.

Yet, this is digressing from the subject. Jeffery Archer is what may be called blatant about sex and sexuality in his works, yet these do not lie at their core. I say what may be because I will not characterise the same with that epithet. He deals with the thing maturely, in the way it should be dealt, and it is, with all due respect to your cousin, only low minds with an even lower grasp of art who judge works of art with such vulgar and totally inappropriate clich├ęs as “non-vegetarian”. True, promiscuity is present in his novels, yet it is there because it is here- in life. ‘Casual’ sex has, is and will always be a reality- it’s an assertion of the Homo sapiens’s nature, for s/he too is an animal and, as all animals, has an inherent inclination towards promiscuity. Archer’s works are not racy, saucy pornographic accounts- they represent different facets of life, different extraordinary and ordinary people in their respective circumstances. Sex is just a part of it.

Some may argue that Archer sets a bad example by portraying minors having sex. To these upholders of so-called morality I remind that Archer-and indeed most artists-are not out there to come out with conduct books and morality plays. They are there to express themselves, not to write nursery books for nannies. They have licenses for artistic creation and we must forever be careful in breaching upon them.

Furthermore, humans, like all animals, are sexual from the beginning. All animals copulate as soon as they mature, i.e. attain sexual virility; all of us in the animal kingdom have that inherent, undeniable inclination towards sexual intercourse. For us humans, these desires start originating as soon as puberty strikes with all its trials and tribulations- more often than not, they culminate in intercourse by the late teens. Consider the history of our race, the widespread prevalence and acceptance of child marriage in all of our ancient cultures, the gradual ‘taboo-isation’ and ‘Orientalisation’ of the same as Christianity, the ‘biggest’ of all anthropocentric religions known to this race, evolved and spread to form industrial democracies. Remember that child marriage was a reality in Europe also-girls were usually married by fifteen-sixteen during Shakespeare’s times. That these realities passed from public consciousness as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw industrialisation dynamically change the very nature of families is quite another thing which most people are not aware of. Indeed, colonialism and racism made it essential for Europe to pass on this as a vice which belonged only to the savage Orient.

Indeed, when it comes to sex, humans actually beat all other animals in their intensity and passion for it. All living beings upwards of cellular organisms like the amoeba have their particular mating seasons during which they copulate in select locations- it is only humans (and our cellular friends!) who have sex anytime, anywhere, whatever the season. Moreover, Darwin has shown us that many animal and bird species remain loyal to their partners for a whole season, something which most humans are in varying degrees extremely incapable of. Humans are the only creatures who have sex for just pleasure; they are the only organisms which abort their off-springs in the embryonic form. It seems that our attempts to curb the ‘beast’ within us have only made that caged creature more powerful, more virile, ever so much more prominent in our (sub)conscious.

Society as we know it today is a culmination of years, centuries-even millenniums-of nurturing which later on comes across as natural, all that is currently classified as vice is mostly an assertion of a wo/man’s deepest desires, her/his inherent inseparable, inalienable inclinations. This is not to say that every inherent inclination of ours is ‘correct’ or ‘appropriate’-indeed many are actually obstacles in the path of civilised life-yet we must consciously and deliberately avoid falling into the old human habit of denying everything to the animal within us, of dismissing the animal for the ‘beast’.