The Importance of Sex-Positive Feminism in India

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Domestic violence, employment equality, foeticide are all very important and fundamental issues, and I’m glad people are fighting for that. Conservative right wing feminists are primarily for the same.

By these conservative feminists I mean the same feminists who don’t support a women’s right to birth control or abortion, a woman’s right to “sleep around” and other such sexual rights.

In India, this takes slightly different forms. Take for instance right wing woman groups like RSS’s women’s wing called “Rashtra Sevika Samiti“. One can only imagine what kind of feminist values or women’s liberation movement they would be leading. In India, there isn’t too much debate about abortion rights. The only time that comes up is when female foeticide is talked about. Birth control is also not yet a big issue in terms of a women’s right to practice it, because first of all the government actually advocates birth control because of increasing cases of AIDS and the only opposition to it has been by men mostly in rural areas who’d rather “have it rough”. (citation highly needed, sorry).

They may be okay with you working, but still want to control your curfews or how many members of the other sex you are friends with (assuming heteronormativity). They will very well want you to be married to someone who doesn’t beat you up, but would love for you to have an arranged marriage, because a woman (or even a man) should be married by a certain age and its okay if they’re married to someone they’ve never had a relationship with before. They will want you to be independent, like know how to drive and be involved in business, but god forbid if you wear short clothes or ever have consensual casual sex. You may chose your husband, but non-consensual sex within marriage is not rape! It is his right to have sex with you! After all, he married you, isn’t it?

India is far far far away from sex positive feminism, and the laws are a good testimony of that since marital rape is legal.

How can you say you support woman’s rights if you think a woman is “dirty” and “sleezy” if she has pre marital sex? How can you call yourself a feminist if you think every girl who is fond of partying is a slut?

The point is that supporting a woman’s right to work and a woman’s right to be in a non- abusive relationship doesn’t really make you someone who is pro women’s rights. There’s much more to it. If there’s equality in everything, like work, money etc then why not equality in sexual ideals/values ? Why is that always considered the last? Why can he sleep with as many women and she has to be loyal to only one man her whole life? Why does no one ask for proof of his virginity?

So, in the end, a woman can have all these  definitions of liberation and equal rights, but until she hasn’t been dictated different rules from a boy in terms of curfews, number of sexual partners (pre marriage), upholding virginity testing etc, there’s not full equality. Even when you strongly do talk about it, sexual expression becomes a hush-hush topic. Our girls work, earn, travel the world, but no-no, they don’t have boyfriends or sex.

Hence, the school of feminism I advocate for is sex positive. Without the hush-hush liberation of women’s libidos, there can be no real equality.

Another thing that bothers me about pseudo feminism is the non advocacy for other issues. How can you make racist, classist, and homophobic slurs/remarks and still call yourself a feminist?

Sounds odd, right? What’s the link between the two? Feminism and classism/LGBT rights) are different issues, right?

Assuming that feminism is based on the premise of equality for all, (problematically argued otherwise by many groups) that should make you mindful of all or most other issues that exist on the premise of equality for all. So think twice before you call yourself a feminist. There could be tons you’re missing out on.

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