Rekindling the embers !!!
Remember my posts on the "moral policing" in TamilNadu which was widely termed the "Kushboo Issue" ?
Then came the bigotry of the media, which I wrote about on this followup !
The latest in the saga involves actress Suhasini (a popular award winning actress) who supported Kushboo's statements on "pre marital safe sex" and is now the target of the moral police. You can read all about it here..
If you dont care to read all the previous posts, here is a brief summary :
1. Kushboo gives in interview where she mentions that pre marital sex is prevalent among Tamil women, irrespective of wheather it is acknowledged by the public or not and therfore a message has to be sent to these young women to indulge in "safe sex". This is not much different from the "install condom vending machines in high schools!" issue that came up in the United States in the late nineties, that clashed with the "abstinence should be the only message" idealogy. No one said "abstinence is not the best message" , but in the event that message was going to be ignored by the hormone driven youngsters, the liberals were pleading to send home a secondary message to to be safe !! "Better safe than sorry" was their logic.
2. People who built temples to this popular actress, decided to picket her house, questioned her "tamil-ness" and her right to make a statement on behalf of "tamil women" and went on to destroy the temple they built for her and asked her to leave the state because she said "tamil women have pre marital sex"!
3. They also asked her to come to court and apologize to the "tamil woman", and at that point the issue died down, what with the holiday season and the torrential rains taking headlines again.
4. Recently at a film festival, actress Suhasini (who enjoys an even better "goody girl" image among tamil public than our Kushboo) stated that the politicos, public and media are blowing this out of proportion and that Kushboo was only trying to project the "safe" is better than "sorry" message!
5. Now Suhasini's effigies are being burnt, her "tamil-ness" is being questioned and she is being asked to "eat her words" and appear in court.
6. To top things off, the same violent protestors are pissed off that these actresses are being given "police protection" and they want to have a go at these women and are filing a case against the local police for "giving protection to criminals". In their minds, these actresses are "the accused" in the court cases and therefore are automatically guilty !!
I have been forewarned by my parents and in-laws not to write anything about this issue !! But having ignored their advice twice in the past, lets make it three strikes shall we ?
A few thoughts on the subject :
1. We have a thing or two to learn from the venerable Arnold Schwazzaneggar.. If he cannot decide between wearing a red or blue tie to his next party, he does what the sane guy does! He adds the question to the next ballot measure and lets the public decide. Similarly we should try to hold a referendum on the "tamil-ness" of tamil women. Only qualified Tamil women should be allowed to vote on the referendum and they should decide the fate of Kushboo , Suhasini and by extrapolation, their own fate !
2. How do you qualify to get the "tamil-woman" card so you can vote in such a referendum or ballot measure ?
a. answer a 50 page questionaire on your views on dating, sex in movies, sex in real life, dress code in public, dress code in private, talking in public to unknown males, your ability to carry a broom and picket outside peoples houses, etc. etc.
b. Do a catwalk for the political party leaders and followers (who so faithfully burn effigies and come at these actresses with blunt and sharp instruments with equal enthusiasm), so they can judge if you are tamil material.
c. Show that you can speak tamil (non actresses only), or bring in your dubbing artist (this if you are an actress -so you can show how your inability to speak the language is not a problem).
d. Last but not least, sign a declaration that you forfeit the right to voice your opinion on behalf of "tamil-woman" under any pretext on any issue and if you do, you will automatically be taken off the "tamil-woman" voter list !!
I was born to a tamil woman, was raised by so many (grandma, aunts), studied in a co-ed school with so many tamil women, have a sister who is very much a Tamil woman and married a very "tamil woman", but never have I been so concerned for their freedom to just say things that come to their mind, without fearing retribution.
There is a difference between agreeing with a cause or making a statement and actually being the cause or acting out the statement. For example, I think it should be okay for homosexual couples to be able to get married. They are a minority and they are ostracized and they really dont deserve the treatment they get. I have a lot of gay friends and I sympathize with their plight. That does not make ME gay !!
Similarly, Kushboo or Suhasini are not advocating pre marital sex. Kushboo is trying to say "it is out there. so dont ignore it"! Should that message be lost ?
For a culture that prides itself on being so closed when it comes to sex-talk, why have a state subsidized AIDS awareness ad capaign ( remember the Pulli- Raja ads that were on every billboard ?) ? By running an AIDS awareness campaign, does the government automatically encourage un-safe sex ? I am pretty sure that was not the message conveyed by the governemnt. The same yardstick should apply here !!
Problems do not disappear because we choose to ignore the message, or obfuscate the issue with such diversion tactics as "questioning ones tamil-ness", unnecessary court cases, effigy burning, picketting etc.. It is the collective responsibility of any great society to face the facts, tackle difficult issues head on and take pride in their ability to do these things without violating the law of the land !