“The Board shall ensure that scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented” — Guideline ‘ix’ of India’s Central Board of Film Certification.
Perfectly innocuous, and even laudable — or is this guideline an especially despicable instrument of oppression because it purports to defend?
It was this line, along with other vestiges of tyranny, that caused the Board to recently ban a film, “Lipstick under my burkha“, because it showed female humans as creatures that can desire. This in 2017, in a jurisdiction where a large part of the human population, both male and female, lives.
[Trailer of the movie: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EpHqeHF8NM0 ]
Especially noteworthy is the official reasoning:
“The story is lady oriended (sic), their fantasy above life. There are contanious (sic) sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society”
A whole gaggle of scholars will not suffice to elaborate this exquisite commentary on Indian civilization.
[Refusal letter from the Board: https://mobile.twitter.com/LipstickMovie/status/834675386986483714/photo/1 ]
What is the thinking behind this? A woman’s modesty is the concern of society at large, and we cannot have immodest women walking about? It shall be society at large which shall inform women of what is modest and what is not — who else?
A survey of contemporary India will reveal it to be a land where systematic oppression, sickening brutality, and callousness are quotidian occurrences, directed against both men and women. So frequently do the horrors occur, and almost everywhere, that they do not always cause outrage. Given this sorry state of affairs, it probably will not hurt to overturn this set of inane, despotic, and anachronistic guidelines, and the 1952 law that empowers it.
Thesis: civil society will not collapse if we:
- let sexual desire be depicted as normal, and part of the human condition;
- let sexual pleasure be depicted as legitimate, and to be one of the positive parts of the human experience;
- let women, as well as men, from across the spectrum of physical appearance, age, fitness, purchasing power, and cultural background, be shown to be entities desiring sexual union, and that they may be coveted by others;
- let homosexuality and bi-sexuality be shown to be a real-world phenomenon, and perfectly commonplace;
- let sexual hygiene and sexual activity be highlighted as part of human health; and
- let sex be cultivated as an art.
In the land of the Kamasutra, this ought not to come as a frightening, strange innovation. Indeed, in any land of human beings, given what we know of the human condition, this should be welcome.