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Hi 'Sexy'! Welcome to India
It happens only in India
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the bit here are my own. I've been careless about censoring, so I implore you to overlook the few harsh words involved
I think it was in my third standard (grade) that I first heard the word sexy (gasp!) being mentioned in casual conversation. The ‘adults’ involved in the exchange (they liked to pretend they were adults, though in reality just a couple of years older than yours truly) were careless in their enthusiasm to be quiet. Incidentally, they were engrossed in a heated discussion about a then popular Karishma Kapoor item number (Sexy, Sexy, Sexy mujhe log bole…Movie: Khuddar). It wasn’t my habit to eavesdrop; however, the girls took my wide-eyed look to mean indignation over a taboo word being thrown around, when delicate ears (theirs excluded, of course) could easily overhear. They were under the misconception that I was deaf to the latest songs (item or otherwise) doing the rounds. Poor ignorant things. Obviously, my gaping mouth had more to do with them being able to converse about something that elders in the household condemned as inappropriate talk for ‘children’. What horrible defamation of our diverse and sanctimonious culture? However, that is all in the past.
Fast forward a few years and we witness a different scene. Chikni Chameli, Chammak Challo, JalebiBai, Sheila and Munni are all here. Children below the age of five are particularly fascinated with the sinewy body shakes involved in the dance numbers; I’m intrigued as well. A flexible hip is a sure way to grab attention. So ‘Sexy’, now, is history. We have panned out our vocabulary to include many more provocative, sensual terms to describe a woman’s physical appeal. We have long mastered the skill of being well-mannered cultured individuals in society, offended at the slightest slur against females, but salivating at the first beat of a vertical art form that’s but a cheap replication of something horizontal.
Of course, someone’s bound to slip up when attending a mass masquerade party for such an extended period of time. The latest to fall prey to her own ignominious blunder was Mamta Sharma. Addressing a crowd of young women in Jaipur, she advocated the use of ‘sexy’ as something that defines a woman’s alluring personality (including physical, emotional and social aspects). If beautiful, why not sexy, she was quick to ask. Hah! It’s now a substitute term for any pleasing adjective or compliment to describe a woman, not to be limited to the leering annotations of eve teasers alone. The National Commission for Women Chairperson dug herself a small grave by being the liberal modern day woman. Personally, I think ‘sexy’ is just another word, and all the media chaos surrounding the issue is only another mole problem being magnified into a mountain.
However, ours is a country where philandering men are reverently referred to as ‘studs’, ‘players’ etc., while ‘sexy’ women are blatantly isolated (with a murmured ‘slut’, ‘whore’ etc. being hushed up). A nation where the male sex is both physically and socially dominant, females have yet to go a long way to brush shoulders with them on any level. Mrs. Sharma should have, maybe, tried being a little discreet? Sadly, women activists or feminists (both male and female), as they are popularly known, were quick to take offence at her words. Forget Mamata Banerjee who accused a gang rape victim of being deliberately involved in a scheme to sabotage her government, or Mayawati who’d until recently set ‘elephantine’ examples of glowing conduct by a woman in power or the Karnataka ministers who watch porn for educational legislative purposes. Let’s forget the countless mini wars being waged against women both inside and outside the realm of domesticity. Let’s all turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the atrocities the fairer sex faces, for at least one day. Let’s dance to the beat of Chikni Chameli and Sheila for an encouraging audience on March 8. Yes, “International Women’s Day”, as it’s politely dubbed, provides a golden opportunity. Being copycats comes easily to us; hence, let’s ape the West and talk of equal rights for women everywhere. That’s what we have being doing for ages. Why drone about change though, when it is but a distant unrealizable fantasy?
It is human nature to victimize the weak. There is scope for improvement if the many catfights amongst our own kind can be resolved in a timely fashion. If not, then we are living in an age when parading in a bikini is in vogue and an art form in itself. Everyone’s allowed to appreciate art. Being repressed for eons, let us all enjoy small blessings as and when they come. ‘Sexy’ is the new beautiful, another compliment for the modern woman, after all.