When they say sex is a taboo, they probably mean the word, not the act. Because the act has been going on unhindered. The population of the world (approximately 7 billion) is enough evidence. I wonder what the world would’ve been like if sex had actually been a taboo and people were forbidden to do it. Man would have become extinct (by the last millennium probably), and it would have been funny, religious and political leaders trying to stop animals from mating. But that was not the case. We live in a world where various religious and cultural “ethics” teach us that it is alright to have sex, but it is not okay to talk about it. I think that is the reason so many people are against sex education. My mother and I had a ‘talk’ (read: argument in which both the ‘arguers’ have valid points and are too egoistic to accept the other’s point) about it once. She was cursing an item song, saying, “These days songs are so explicit and vulgar.”
I, in my argumentative mood, told her that songs have always had a sexual colouring. So did poems. She agreed. But she believed that “when she was my age” (as if it was the eighteenth century or stone age), the sexual colouring was not so explicit. She said it was okay to watch a rose bud blooming, or a woman coming out of the bedroom with a messed up ‘bindi’ and to hear lyrics like “seeking honey from a flower”. (No wonder, there are still some species of women who believe that one gets pregnant if they get on the bed with a guy and start rolling. Rolling Stone theory, as one of my friends puts it. I wonder how much these women are going to panic when one fine day they realize there is more than rolling involved.) When I ask her what’s wrong with translating/interpreting those very things, she glares at me.
“That’s where the difference between eroticism and vulgarity comes.” She says, triumphantly.
“But who draws this line? And why?”
She ‘suddenly’ remembers she has left the stove on. She rushes to turn it off and that’s the end of the ‘discussion’.
I came to this conclusion after I approached a professor of mine seeking help to write a research paper (yeah! We research students need to have a couple of publications for our research to be ‘valid’), she was ready to help me and asked me what I would like to work on. I told her I had a topic and I had done some reading. I just needed her help to put the ideas together to make it look ‘academic’ enough. After praising me about being ‘hard-working’ ‘sincere’ (a lot of other meaningless adjectives), she asked me what the topic was.
“Interpreting Sex in Literature.” I told her.
She smirked at me.
“You mean ‘gender’?” she asked. The way she asked it, it seemed she was hoping I meant ‘gender’.
“No, ma’am. SEX.”
She gave an uncomfortable smile and a date to start working on the paper.
(By the way, the paper never materialized).
There are many other ‘innocent’ or ‘romantic’ day-to-day things that make us get used to ‘not talking about sex’ without even knowing why:
When men say “I want to make love to you,” they are making the woman believe (unconsciously) that she is one of those decent women to whom one wants to ‘make love’, while they have ‘sex’ with immoral women. When a gynecologist asks a woman, “Are you married?” she is feeding her idea of marital sex being natural and legal. I don’t understand. What if the patient is unmarried and has had sex (possibly the night before visiting the doctor) and her ailment is related to that? Or what if the patient is married and has not had sex in ages and her ailment is not even distantly related to sex? Shouldn’t doctors be a bit more professional and ask “Did you have sex?” When a woman is greeted with disdain when she asks for emergency contraceptive at the pharmacy, she is made to feel ashamed of herself for having unprotected sex with a man who is not ‘responsible’ enough to get her the ‘pill’. And finally, when I see pseudo-feminists on Facebook, like the one I saw today morning, sharing this post:
Woman! I understand your concern for rape victims. I’m not saying your concern is fake, but if your opinion about consensual sex is this ‘backward’, I’m afraid, you have got your feminism wrong.
I don’t know if the taboo is ever going to be erased. If it was related to the act, it would have been easy to get rid of it, but not when it is the word. That makes me wonder. How can somebody talk about Voldemort’s sex life? “He-who-must-not-be-named was caught doing-what-should-not-be-mentioned.” Oh yeah! I forgot. It’s not ‘ethical’ to talk about anybody’s (including your own) sex life.