Freedom to enjoy empowered women

Savita-Bhabhi.jpg

Freedom of speech. It’s not something I take for granted. I grew up in Zambia during an era when you could say anything you wanted about the country’s president, as long as you had already started the engine of your getaway plane. That’s what I love about countries like America and Canada — freedom of speech has no bounds, as long as you don’t scream “Fire!” in a crowded theater, threaten the president or profess your undying love for Osama bin Laden. Okay, so it does have bounds, but you get the point. I don’t remember the last time a journalist or author had to run away from an angry mob. It’s just not the way things are done, as I learned several years ago when I tried to assemble a mob to chase Ann Coulter.

India allows a great amount of free speech, compared to many other countries. But just ask fans of Savita Bhabhi how free they are to enjoy her sexcapades. The cartoon seductress has been banned in India, perhaps to the delight of many a wife, who remembers the good old days when her husband got his thrills out of Asterix. As S. Mitra Kalita writes in the WSJ, Savita joins The Da Vinci Code, The Polyester Prince, and Royal Magazine as “examples of India’s hindrance of free speech.”

You might never have heard of Royal Magazine, but it’s an example of the squelching of free speech in India that seems more common–preemptive and driven by fear. Editor in chief Ronak Vyas wrote to me and said, “I have been publishing an online magazine that features nudity and had my share of problems in India. To be honest I feel like you can get away with anything as long as you don’t offend a particular person or group on a personal level.”

This being India, offending someone is a given. This being India, also the world’s largest democracy, the government needs to weigh what’s more important and whether it draws the line too soon, too early.

Consider this comment from Gaurav Jain: It’s “not about the internet or Savita alone, its (sic) a general lack of freedom in being able to criticise or comment on our holy cows (leaders, gods, other religious figures) … some mob somewhere will have a reason to protest most likely in a violent manner.”

Like me, he wonders whether the controversy stems from Savita being an “empowered woman making her own choices, perhaps this is a threat to certain sections of society that prefer to see their wives as creatures who should stay indoors and rear the kids (which is ACTUAL subjugation).” [Wall Street Journal]

Savita was banned because she’s an “empowered woman”??? Watch out Indra Nooyi, you could be next.

Fortunately, I’ve already downloaded hundreds of Indra’s pics to my hard drive. Let me know if you want any. And please indicate your preference: business suit or sari.

36 thoughts on “Freedom to enjoy empowered women

  1. Empowered woman? Really? Did Indra Nooyi think before putting pen to paper there? I forgot which old school (2nd wave) feminist it was, but I seem to remember her writing an article in The Atlantic or Salon or something bemoaning the fact that the road to female empowerment these days seems to be paved with cock. The gist of it was basically, “even when we win. . . we lose.”

  2. That said, even if you have moral objections to porn, trying to ban it in the age of the internet is a fool’s errand. It never really works. It’s like trying to play whack-a-mole. Put one site down and five more will take its place. You enforce these sorts of rules and any attempts to try are just going to make you seem arbitrary and impotent. You can make porn production onerous, but you’re never going to get rid of it.

  3. I always thought India had more freedom than the west. Freedom to cheat, to commit petty crimes and bribe your way out of it, freedom to spit, to relieve yourself in public, freedom to eve-tease, to break all traffic laws, to be grossly inappropriate in hiring practices, freedom to invade other’s private space, freedom to ask anyone anything…as long as they are not higher than you in hierarchy. Ahh… complete freedom…..we are slaves to western norms in USA.

  4. I understand – and agree – with freedom of speech – and with the rest of your article. But this:

    Fortunately, I’ve already downloaded hundreds of Indra’s pics to my hard drive. Let me know if you want any.

    Okay, that was just disgusting & really sick. Made me throw up in my mouth a little. Taste, Melvin? Or at least don’t classify this as ‘humor’ – just as sick nonsense, since you apparently think the easiest way to degrade a strong women is to make porn jokes about her.

  5. Or at least don’t classify this as ‘humor’ – just as sick nonsense, since you apparently think the easiest way to degrade a strong women is to make porn jokes about her.

    Overreact much? Chill please.

  6. Chevalier, I thought it was a funny and on-point takedown of the bogus empowerment claim. Stripped off all sarcasm, it would read something like: People download pr0n because it’s, duh, pr0n. Indra Nooyi, an empowered woman in truer sense isn’t very high on their list. In conclusion, empowerment my ass.

  7. Porn. Don’t bother making it sound noble by saying it “empowers” women or make it about “free speech.” It is about pornography of Indian women for the satisfaction of men, and the creators of pornography being able to publish freely without hassle. If that is what you support, good for you, but don’t pretend you’re a feminist.

  8. I agree with you. Let us push our agenda. Porn, High-heels, Super-Mom concept, Pole dancing are all good for women.

  9. I am sorry, but your connections doesn’t make sense. I get the point you are trying to make?But Indrya Nooyi??? Seriously???

  10. I don’t know about being banned for being an ‘empowered woman’, but the ban is definitely ridiculous. Censorship of cartoons isn’t a good thing, whether it’s cartoons of Muhammad or cartoons of India’s (apparently) favourite bhabhi.

  11. Porn, High-heels/ChipnDale bodies, Super-Mom/Dad concept, Pole dancing are all good for women and men. Lets be egalitarian now. Let the whole world have the class of the guidos of “Jersey Shore.”

  12. Why is a naked woman always considered empowered?

    I personally feel that a woman who is clothed often has more self-respect than one who is half-dressed…but I might be biased from my Muslim upbringing.

    Savita Bhabhi is kinda hot though…if that’s what you’re into…

  13. Okay, that was just disgusting & really sick. Made me throw up in my mouth a little. Taste, Melvin? Or at least don’t classify this as ‘humor’ – just as sick nonsense, since you apparently think the easiest way to degrade a strong women is to make porn jokes about her.

    hey, chev, remember you as a puma from your time on sm during the hillary elections. what sort of puma are you if your outrage stemming from your incomprehension only makes you throw up a little? shouldn’t you have a full on projectile vomiting episode at least to be a card carrying member of your org?

  14. Freedom of speech is a cherished right that should be respected by all democracies.

    India’s democracy has elements of feudalism, nepotism, and corruption which plague many developing countries.

    Iran is technically a democracy despite having a council of clerics who have a means of dismissing the will of the people in that country. Iran was the first Muslim country to adopt a Western-style parliamentary government when it was still a monarchy at the turn of the 20th century.

    Indians may have thrown off the yoke of British colonialism, but they have adopted the Victorian values of the nineteenth century.

    This goes for all communities in India be they Swaminarayan Hindus in Gujarat or Muslim Sayeds living in Lucknow.

    But as new mediums of communication make censorship impossible to implement, societies like India will have to confront change.

    Even in Afghanistan, when POLO TV network hosted an “American Idol”-type show where men and women competed for the top prize, issues of gender, sexuality, and tribal affiliation/ethnicity were confronted on a national stage in a South Asian country recovering from communal strife.

  15. @ desican,

    Why is a naked woman always considered empowered? I personally feel that a woman who is clothed often has more self-respect than one who is half-dressed…but I might be biased from my Muslim upbringing. Savita Bhabhi is kinda hot though…if that’s what you’re into…

    As a Muslim myself, having family in Iran and Afghanistan, I am quite liberal.

    To me, clothing or “hijab” does not determine a woman’s character, her actions and humility does as a person.

    Pornography, a taboo among Muslims, is widely consumed by Muslims though. When I was in the US Navy, I was able to sell my old issues of Maxim magazine to Pakistani and Indian sailors on port visits to al-Manamah, Bahrain and Dubai, UAE. Also, one of the most popular pornography sites in the Middle East and Pakistan happens to be hosted in Israel by Israeli Jews.

    Pornography as an art form can be liberating and make people question their assumptions about morality, decency, gender roles, and be a reflection on society.

    When the Danish cartoons were published and Sunni Muslims were blasting Denmark for insulting Islam, as a Shia Muslim where images of the Prophet and his relatives like Hazmat Imam Ali are commonly depicted in popular religious portraits sold in India, Pakistan, and Iran, I was ashamed at how my religious cohorts reacted.

    Seriously, are Muslims that insecure about their status in this world of Western domination and rising non-Muslim Asian powers, that we cannot remember our adaab (manners) and discuss the issues those cartoons brought up like religiously-sanctioned violence, a mob mentality, Orientalism, stereotypes, and terrorism.

  16. “perhaps this is a threat to certain sections of society that prefer to see their wives as creatures who should stay indoors and rear the kids (which is ACTUAL subjugation).”

    Rearing children you CHOSE to have is NOT subjugation. However, if you keep your kids indoors all the time and don’t take them out to get exercise, sunshine and fresh air, you may be subjugating them.

    It’s ridiculous when naked women pandering to male fantasies (even cartoon ones) are considered “empowered”.

    When will the Indian male ever get over his “bhabi fetish”???

    Perhaps when actual dating, hetero-social behaviour, and MUTUAL relationships of females their own age becomes accepted in the culture.

    Til then, the next time someone calls you “auntie” … BEWARE!

  17. If that is what you support, good for you, but don’t pretend you’re a feminist.

    Likewise, don’t pretend you understand the industry. The worst of abuses in the industry occur in markets like India where the demand may ONLY be satisfied by criminal elements. Granting an individual (not just women- there’s a gay side) the freedom to perform would marginalize the black market, provide the workers a right to unionize (theoretically), and yield dividends directly to the performer. Just look at what Sunny Leone was able to accomplish. Yoga Fire is on point, too. Suppression is ridiculous, token effort that squanders gov’t resources.

  18. Likewise, don’t pretend you understand the industry.

    What exactly in what I wrote are you referring to

  19. The worst of abuses in the industry occur in markets like India where the demand may ONLY be satisfied by criminal elements.

    Hmmm….. I did not know cartoon porn actors like Savita Bhabi had it so tough…

  20. This article goes into this topic What is Liberation? http://sisyphe.org/spip.php?article2551

    Snippet: “We need to maintain the struggle to come onto a truly level playing field, not one defined by men’s entitlement to abuse power and control. We need to keep fighting for a society in which violence done to women’s bodies is not eroticized and commercialized. Until we have achieved these goals, we can not claim to have achieved the feminist agenda. And the freedom to package ourselves as the objects of male desire feels like a very hollow victory.”

  21. Mustafa – I completely agree with you. The length of woman skirt is not proportional to her piety. I was just speaking based on my own personal experiences with the women I have dated.

    Yoga Fire – You have 3-D porn?

  22. Most people would agree that my freedom ends when it interferes with the freedom of another.

    I don’t know too much about statistics in India. But I do know that every two minutes, an American woman is sexually assaulted. And I know most who insist that pornography is harmless (or that it empowers women) suddenly become quiet when asked if they would be ok with their sister or daughter joining the industry. Even Ron Jeremy said he’d rather his (hypothetical) daughter become president when asked the question.

    Why can’t the king of pornography or the average guy let a daughter that they love go into sex work? Because we all know deep down inside that it degrades women, reinforces the idea of women as eager sex objects who only say yes to any twisted demanded at any hour. Objects who never feel pain, hurt, sadness, or any other inconvenient human feeling that one has to deal with in a human relationship. And that 2D sexbot ideal is then reinforced by orgasm (I can’t imagine a more powerful form of positive reinforcement).

    I know that “eve teasing” is an issue in India. I know that foreign women tend to be harassed even more and that when arrested, blokes give sorry excuses like, “I thought western women liked that kind of stuff.” We all know that pornography is not reality. But I’m surrounded by so many women who have been “enhanced” and measure their self-worth almost solely by their appeal to men that I’m beginning to think that India might be doing something right here.

    I didn’t become aware of the extent of male privilege until fairly recently. But I’m amazed and horrified by the extent of cruelty that the sex industry is capable of to relieve male urges. Real, uncoerced, happy women are everywhere (walk into any bookstore and look at all the books aimed at helping women find guys by settling). But I guess that’s not “convenient” enough.

  23. What exactly in what I wrote are you referring to

    The fairly direct implication that anyone who condones this industry is no feminist and that no woman could ever be empowered by giving her control over her own choices in said industry. Don’t sweat what you’ve heard- act like you know.

  24. ecause we all know deep down inside that it degrades women, reinforces the idea of women as eager sex objects who only say yes to any twisted demanded at any hour.

    so.. you only approve of female dominatrix porn?

  25. mistress, I only approve of pro-subaltern post-feminist form. I think Mayawati is not interested in hearing my video company proposal. The only erections she’s about are the ones of her statues.

  26. @27

    What I wrote was exactly in reference to this cartoon Indian woman pornography of this post “Freedom to Enjoy Empowered Women.” If you want to watch Indian comic book porn, watch it, but don’t make it more noble a thing than it is. Indian women comic book porn is not consumed by men in the cause of feminism or empowering Indian women. I wasn’t talking about the larger pornographic industry.

    As for the larger industry and feminism, I think that article I linked to discusses those points.

    Here are other perspectives if you want to talk about effects of porn:

    The Porn Myth http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/index1.html

    Men and porn Pornography is ubiquitous, more profitable, more acceptable than ever. We argue about the effects on women participants but scant attention is given to the millions of mainly male users. What does porn do to men? Edward Marriott investigates http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/nov/08/gender.weekend7

  27. @27

    What I wrote was exactly in reference to this cartoon Indian woman pornography of this post “Freedom to Enjoy Empowered Women.” If you want to watch Indian comic book porn, watch it, but don’t make it more noble a thing than it is. Indian women comic book porn is not consumed by men in the cause of feminism or empowering Indian women. I wasn’t talking about the larger pornographic industry.

    As for the larger industry and feminism, I think that article I linked to discusses those points.

    Here are other perspectives if you want to talk about effects of porn:

    The Porn Myth http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/trends/n_9437/index1.html

  28. Real, uncoerced, happy women are everywhere (walk into any bookstore and look at all the books aimed at helping women find guys by settling).

    Women will never be happy by “settling”. Why do you think there’s so much divorce?