The cover story of this week’s Outlook (King Leer) is all kinds of gross. Where do I even begin?
The fact that this kind of rampant exploitation takes place and nobody even thinks it merits a look-see until somebody in the media feels a need to boost their ratings or increase their circulation or whatever?
The fact that it all sounds so sordid and smutty that it reads like a really badly written internet rape fantasy (or maybe the plots of several no-budget porn movies shot in somebody’s garage in Kerala – or wherever the fuck the desi porn industry is situated these days)?
The fact that all the stories are peppered with “expert” testimonies that repeatedly hold to the POV that a woman’s best chance to succeed in India is on her back – to an extent that it begins to take on shades of an universal truism?
The fact that politicians are actually giving each other props on how best they handle being sexual harassing, adultering, raping, pussy-hounds? “OMG, ji! Your skills as a sociopath are amazing!”
Interestingly, most political observers agree—and this includes those from the BJP—that Congressmen tend to conduct such relationships with greater finesse than those from their main rival political party. A civil servant from UP, who worked both with Kalyan Singh and the currently headline-hitting N.D. Tiwari, had this to say: “Congressmen are better at compartmentalising their lives, allotting time for work and play. Kalyan Singh’s biggest mistake was that he allowed his relationship to consume him and his political career. N.D. Tiwari, on the other hand, juggled many female interests and administration deftly.” Of course, Tiwari has finally been outed, but only after living a rather full 86 years, and surviving tales of his successor in UP, Veer Bhadra Singh, washing the Lucknow secretariat with “gangajal” before taking office, to remove the “Tiwari taint”. Indeed, a senior BJP leader speaks almost enviously of two senior, married cabinet ministers in the current UPA government for their deftness in pursuing sexual relationships without attracting the ugly odour of scandal: “What champs they are—X and Y.”
The fact that I’m pretty sure I just solved one of their blind items and it’s freaking me the fuck out to think I might actually know one of these scumbags?
It is to barf.
But even worse is their follow up article that focuses on how sleeping your way into power is an ancient Indian tradition. It reads as an extended profile of some lady from the CPI(M) called Ramnika Gupta, apparently the only one with the balls to give damn-the-consequences no-holds-barred quotes.
I don’t know what the fuck kind of tone the article’s author Sheela Reddy was going for, but I’ve seldom been more disturbed. Ms. Gupta’s relentless efforts to couch her reminisces in Free Love Hippie terms fails rather spectacularly as soon as she starts going into details and within a matter of seconds just turns bone-jarringly creepy. After “cuddling” with the Chief Minister of Bihar to get her job done, apparently
she agreed to visit the state Congress chief, Raju Mishra, in his home to put forward Sahay’s recommendation. This time, she says, she had to pay a higher price. She let him have his way and did not complain. “The only choice for a woman starting in politics is to either quit or accept the fact that she has to sleep with some of them at least,” she says. “You have to compromise until you are in a position to reject them.” What she could do, however, was to try and avoid being anywhere alone with the BPCC chief. For her compliance, he nominated her as Bihar’s representative at the Jaipur AICC meet in 1966.
This pleasant interlude of business-as-usual is followed by another in which she is confronted by a stark naked Neelam Sanjiva Reddy who proceeds to rape her in his hotel room, after which she switches parties to one in which she is still expected to sleep with people if she wants to get results but actually gets to choose the men she must please in the sack.
Of course, this only lasted as long as she didn’t dump one of those men. The resulting nastiness sent her to another Chief Minister whose primary attraction was that he wouldn’t allow anyone to rape her. Please keep in mind that this is a woman who, while all this was going on, could apparently muster up “a hundred truckloads of people for political rallies”.
Which brings me to two things:
One, what the fuck is wrong with these men? If you’re making appointments to meet strange women in your office at 4 a.m. (!!!) for a bit of a cuddle and a kiss… dude, you’ve got problems. And the kind of society that turned you into a furtive 4 a.m. cuddler has even greater problems. The kind that can’t be washed away with any amount of freakin’ gangajal.
What really strikes me about all these men, apart from their rampant rapeyness, is their completely off-the-charts servitude to the power-sex equation. Not only do these men apparently feel sex, consensual or nonconsensual, is one of the perks of the job but their complete and utter ineptitude at it is staggering.
I always thought the movie villains who ask for sex in return for favors given were hilariously cartoonish. Real life villains of that sort must have at least a little bit of polish, yes? The answer is apparently: no. They really are the kind of bozos who take off their clothes and swagger out of their bedroom to pounce on their latest victim.
I have to wonder if these men think this is the only way they’ll ever get women to have sex with them. “Bone me and I’ll give you stuff. All sorts of stuff. Stuff that you haven’t even asked for. Just bone me! Somebody! Anybody! No? Well, then, I order you to!” And it sounds as though everyone’s rationalized it to the point where they don’t even see it as rape.
Q: In what universe is being a midwife – a midwife! WTF?! – code for “fair game for sexual harrassment”?
A: The universe controlled by our politicians and civil servants.
Two, “rape”. They probably left it out for legal reasons in which case let me just say – when a person is forced to have sex with another person? The technical term for the act is “rape”.
Ramnika Gupta has clearly been through a lot of shitty things in her life and she doesn’t need me to pile on or tell her what’s what at this late date, but sweetheart, it’s pretty damn clear what happened to you and it wasn’t sleeping to the top: it was rape. Yes, you were assaulted and the degree of that assault was rape.
If you’ve actually chosen to achieve success on your back, then that’s one thing. I think it’s a crappy way to do it and it hurts others of your gender along the line but what do I know? I have a non-traditional life and I enjoy vast amounts of privilege. Ignore me. But it seems to me that if achieving success or job security on your back is simply a matter of you working the “system”, then it’s a whole another thing from you making a choice.
It’s this little thing called rape. Use the goddamned word. It’s real, it’s ugly, it’s important.
“Either do it without guilt or don’t,” is apparently Ms. Gupta’s mantra when it comes to trading sex for favors. It seems to me that she has precious little to feel guilty about. And the people who actually did stuff they should have felt guilty about, didn’t feel any.