Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

This whole morality thing…

December 14, 2011

I just saw something on Facebook (I suppose a friend sent the wrong link) which showed a photo of three girls smoking, and a series of comments about them being “bad girls”.

Why, in the twenty-first century, are we still such prudes and hypocrites? And why double standards? Well, at least one person said, ” Only if you don’t smoke and drink you can say ‘bad girls’…”.. but there were several other comments, which included the word “bitch”.

The questions I am asking are:

So…men can drink and smoke and be “good” people?

Does not smoking and not drinking automatically make a person “good”, the way drinking and smoking seem to automatically make a person “bad”? I don’t smoke or drink, and I know how bad I can be.

I simply cannot understand how a society that was so open, became such a society of prudery, and utter hypocrisy…being so judgemental about things that do not matter at all.

I am reminded of another FB update…a cleric has said that women should not handle cucumbers or bananas because they should “avoid sexual thoughts”. That cleric seems to be to be the most dirty-minded person! He is like the Roscharch-test patient who was shown a series of blots, and asked what they reminded him of. For every blot, his answer was, “Sex”. Finally, the psychiatrist told him, “You seem to be obsessed with sex.” “Me!” exclaimed the patient. “It’s you who’ve been showing me all the dirty pictures!”

Speaking of which, I saw the movie, “Dirty Picture”, and liked it very much. Excellent acting by Vidya Balan, and very well directed, too…and the photography is superb. It shows our double standards…and the way women are utterly exploited. They have to use their bodies as their strengths, and soon the strengths become their weaknesses….

Smoking is bad for the health, that’s been proven, but why attach a morally bad tag to it? And many cultures advocate moderate social drinking….


December 2, 2011

Why is our culture (well, at least what I observe in India) so obsessed with covering up things?

It’s both figurative and literal. Literally, we seem to want to cover every possession we have….the TV, the washing machine, and even the food processor in the kitchen are covered with cloth covers, and there are specially made plastic covers available in the market for each of these gadgets (and more). The covering is perhaps to guard against dust…but that is not really a solution with a gadget that’s in use on a daily basis. I was amused to find at a friend’s place that the lacy cloth cover they had on the dining table was actually preventing them from dusting or cleaning the table properly. When I went next time, I noticed, to my further amusement, that a plastic sheet had been used to cover the tablecloth!

Some of this “cover up” seems also to do the westernized style of life. When one sleeps on a rush mat that is rolled out at night, and rolled up and stored away in the morning, there is not much that can be covered…but a bed with a mattress needs a bedsheet, a top sheet, and a duvet or an artistic bedspread on top of it all. In our country, all this just manages to catch a lot of dust, and has to be changed at regular intervals, creating a lot of work! Seating on the cement “pyol” or on the teakwood swing…or sitting on those same rush mats or dhurries….doesn’t involve any cover up material, but a sofa set must have cushions, and covers for those cushions, and sofa-backs…the fashionable (and affluent) life-style is still the one that imitates the western mode of life, with plenty of material, which may be unsuitable for our hot climates…but is followed, sometimes with an air-conditioner to keep out both heat and dust. We cannot even seem to stand having our wonderful sculptures of stone and marble as they are…we need to cover up “sensitive” body parts with cloth. Our ancient appreciation of the human body seems to be covered up by the cloth of prudery and hypocrisy.

Another form of cover-up, I notice, is that of our repressions in many ways. There are so many topics that are taboo for Indian families to mention; and we cover up, and pretend they don’t exist. Recently, working on some data for child abuse, and sexual abuse of women within the home, I found that it’s far more prevalent than most people realize….it’s all covered up within the family, and often hushed up…to the detriment of the victims, and to the general detriment of those who might be sensitized by a more open discussion of the topics, to be wary of such situations.

We seem to sometimes live in a cover-up world…especially we of the middle class. We are happy with our water supply, and turn a blind eye to the fact that our maids probably queue up for pots of water. We do not want to know how the trash that each houseproud woman or man throws out, accumulates in toxic piles in the landfills. We do not want to talk about how corrupt our leaders are, and how they are amongst us. We bribe our way to getting our various papers moved through government babudom…and then we do not want to talk about it.

Whatever is covered up (and denied)…to my mind…is something that will fester and get worse. Recently, a problem I had denied to myself came to a head and finally demanded resolution. Covering it up was the worst possible thing I could have done. Bringing it out into the open, talking about it, has made tackling it much easier.

Decency, morality…these seem to be words that cover up a lot of hypocrisy, too. A recent report on Indian sexuality in Indian homes says that 78% of parents do not discuss the topic of sex with their children, who then get right or wrong ideas from the peers or the internet. “Nice people don’t discuss this,” is often the refrain. What is wrong about discussing topics such as transgender, same-sex love, rape or eunuchs? Why do we pretend that these topics don’t exist, cloak them with the cover-up of invisibility? It’s as if these people inhabit an entirely different planet from us.

I agree that we need not be discussing such topics all the time, and all of us cannot be evangelists. But a willingness to accept that the world has many different hues is something we need to do….I must accept that I have dirty clothes and that the washing machine that cleans them need not be hidden away under a plastic cover, pretending to look like something else.

I loved it!

February 24, 2009

From this post from premkudva:

“Then there is an uncle who tells us that in Cochin they enforce the seat belt rule. And how he was once stopped. And how he said that buses should also have seat belts, and that Cochin with its clogged roads [and max speed of 20 kmph as per him] doesn’t require seat belts. All this he delivers to the local constable who has stopped him, in the hope that the constable is able to abolish the seat belt rule. The constable unfortunately is unable to do any such thing. So our high moral ground uncle bribes the constable Rs 100 and drives away.”

Read the whole post if you can, I enjoyed it very much! Thanks, Prem.

Protected: Aired this morning…

June 20, 2007

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Moral Policing

April 27, 2007

I saw this post from themadman

And that set me thinking.

I think all moral policing is, deep down, a form of insecurity. From a culture in which sex was a part of life, to be celebrated as much as other things, we seem to have regressed into prudery and hypocrisy, claiming that any small incident is liable to “destroy Indian culture and values” and sitting on some fanciful moral high ground.

I think that the more we pretend that something doesn’t exist, in public, the more we are obsessed with it in private. There must be a reason why we are amongst the most populous nations in the world. This has not been achieved by adopting an attitude of pious, virtuous denial of sex.

As far as “superior Indian culture” goes, I think that it’s only when we are not confident in our identity that we have to proclaim it out loud and allegedly protect it. If we proclaim that Indian culture is a magnificent edifice, why are we so scared that a kiss between Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty will destroy it?

Another culture I know which was similarly prudish (and which may have passed it on to us) was the Victorian English culture. But the English have moved out of it…and we haven’t. It amused me, several years ago, to see the adaption of “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen as a television serial. It was amazing that Victorian values ruled in Indian society and were valid….the notion that a girl’s “virtue” is something to be preserved at all costs, or she would face ruin and ” a fate worse than death”, for example.

Michael Crichton, in his novel, “The Great Train Robbery”, talks of Victorian hypocrisy, where touted values were not reflected in people’s actions. The facade of paragons of virtue often hid a multitude of unhealthy ideas and obsessions.

Ancient Indian society acknowledged the courtesans as women plying a trade like others, and also acknowledged the fact that these women could sometimes be just sex workers…or sometimes be women of substance and power. Now the same situation exists everywhere but we try to close our eyes to it. Even when the chief minister of a State comes to power on the strength of her relationship to someone, the actual situation is known to everyone but is never referred to openly or honestly. We shirk calling a spade a spade….everyone knows the facts of life but no one should talk about them!

I can only invoke two similes…one, an open wound heals, and a closed-up wound festers; and two, it is the house whose windows are open to the four winds which has healthy, fresh air; the house where the windows are always closed against dust and noise and other “pollutants”…soon has a stale, fusty atmosphere.

Perhaps the Victorians and the Edwardians foisted their pruderies on our society; but that doesn’t explain why, more than 50 years later, we seem to be regressing more and more into them, and are busy trying to protect the “pure Indian culture” against every imagined onslaught and slight. And it doesn’t explain why some of us take on the responsibility of being our brothers’ keepers.

But that’s the way we are. As I remarked before…someone told me my daughter and her boyfriend shouldn’t hold hands in public (kissing?! Forget it!) because they were not married. And a few years later, they told me they shouldn’t hold hands in public…because they were married!

I will end with a last simile…the sapling that is protected too much from sunlight and wind may wither and die, and never grow into the magnificent tree it should be.

Our Victorian mindset…

July 7, 2006

Sorry, some amendments are in order.

I had written:

A friend of mine says that there are two “units” in a house for rent, but he and another friend (a young woman) will not be allowed to take the two units because of snoopy landlords and neighbours.

The amendment:

Actually, there is apparently no problem in their taking TWO units. The problem arises if they don’t want to waste money on two units….they can’t take one, that will outrage proprieties. Hypocrisy rules.

But my comments still stand:

In my ideal, everything-is-simple world:

a. If they  are not a “couple” , there can be no objection.

b. If they are, and want to live in or whatever else, that is their
…er…affair, and as long as they are paying the rent properly and are
keeping the premises well, what’s the problem? How does the piece of paper
that the marriage certificate is, change anything, as far as the landlord and neighbours are
concerned? Have all those couples in the vicinity shown them their marriage certificates?

c. How do these assorted neighbours/landlords know that if  the young man  brings over
male friends, or the young woman  brings over female friends, that they are not

d.. And if everyone was like this, how DO unmarried couples live together?
(And I can’t believe that there are no unmarried couples living together in
Bangalore.) ( I *would* like an answer to this one.) Do they always pretend to be married? Is hypocrisy the order of the day?

To me, the presence or absence of a marriage certificate it has never made any difference at all to my interaction with a “couple”; it is
their relationship, and their commitment to each other. No marriage certificate can keep a crumbling marriage from falling apart, and no marriage certificate is necessary when the commitment between two people exist…and the whole thing is  nothing to do
with me.  If we can accept that with friends, why can’t assorted landlords
and neighbours accept the way some unknown youngsters wish to live? I know a gay couple who have been together for more than 8 years now. I have the utmost respect for both of them and I think it is wonderful that in this cold harsh world they have found love…..

…But…I think that is the ideal world! We are still in Victorian times here, and so
proud to be that way, too….our uncles and brothers will molest young
nieces (and,sometimes, nephews)  in the privacy of their homes, but a young
man and young woman must necessarily be thinking of orgies if they want to
share the same address…..

Sad, but true. I asked Jasmeen Patheja of Blank Noise why they could not
also protest against the sexual harassment of women in private spaces as well as in public areas, but
apparently, that is out of their ambit….


July 18, 2005

This was prompted (as are several thoughts) by a television program I watched. Every day, I tape “Thein Kinnam”, which brings old Tamizh film songs. Today’s episode was compered by L.A.Rajakumar, a film music composer…and one of the songs which he described as a classic, an all-time great was from the movie Sivantha Mann…and it had a dancer in a belly-dance costume being whipped (12 times through the song) by a man dressed in Arab robes.

Apparently, the music director is able to completely disassociate himself from the spectacle of a woman being whipped, whimpering and dancing suggestively, in a revealing costume….the word “sadism-masochism” (S/M) is seemingly not in his vocabulary at all. It started me thinking of related things…such as Yahoo closing their chat rooms after it was found that adults were using them to solicit sex from children.

While mealy-mouthedness and hypocrisy are universal, I do feel that Indians today have brought it to a fine art. We delight in talking about how precious our children are to us, and then we read about child labour everywhere, and child prostitution too. We need not go to those extremes….look on any working day at the number of children who are riding on two-wheelers with their parents…without helmets….look in your neighbours’ homes and see the children working there (“They will starve otherwise..and they are too dumb to go to school”). We talk about Woman being a Goddess…but a woman, without a capital W, is more likely to be, at the very least, a mental slave of a male-dominated culture, where movies routinely have scenes showing males slapping their women, and the women weeping helplessly. This was summed up in the words of a one-time neighbour of mine:” Women are goddesses if they are in their place; they have to be controlled.” There was NO way of showing him how limited his viewpoint was…he would always think of women as lower beings who had to be controlled like wild animals. In essence, there is no difference in his mind between his beloved pet dog and the women in his household. And when the women themselves subsribe to this culture, the mental slavery is complete.

We are the proud upholders of the Victorian hypocrisy that cannot see the dishonesty in touting middle-class morality in public and flouting it in private. The whole ethos seems to be that everyone must voice opinions of a high moral ground, and in private, agree that it is Kali Yuga and such morals cannot be practically upheld, whether it is sex or corruption or abuse of power.

A serial and a film, both based on Pride and Prejudice, which refers to Victorian morality, are so apt for our society today. What I would like to learn is how the English came out of their Victorian prudery and hypocrisy into a more open form of thinking. Maybe, then we too could do it….as I write, the TV is on and there is a Tamizh serial which is showing the husband and wife in their bedroom..the husband sleeps on the bed and the wife on the floor…I suppose she is elevated in status to the bed when the need arises!

the moral tone of our tv and movies

May 5, 2005

Why are we such mealy-mouthed hypocrites? Heroes are sooo mother- and father- and family- loving and marriage is soooo touted and all other relationships between a man and woman are frowned upon with shock and scandal and of course man-man or woman-woman relationships are NEVER dealt with…when Deepa Mehta’s picture came out, there were people trying to set fire to the movie theatre in typical style…when are Indians going to grow out of Victorian hypocrisy and prudery and GROW UP???