Our perception of ourselves; our bodies, our relationships, our understating and, above all, our behavior comes from the complex system of rules unconsciously governing us all the time.  Like the rules of the popular sport cricket enable, constitute and control the identity of a cricketer, so does the rules of a culture discipline our collective behavior. On transgressing the organized set of rules, the sport can not only question your identity but also, with its strictly punitive rules, control or discipline you back to normalcy. However, the rules of the sport keep changing with the passage of time and accordingly affect the identity/behavior, performance in other words, of the cricketer. Our society, more or less, works in the same way. Our perceptions of everything that apparently constitute the reality of our existence are essentially controlled by a complex network of rules. For instance, our perception of body and sex is constituted by a series of discursive cultural formations like religion, government, morality, law, social networking and medicine. However, all these formations undergo change and so does our perceptions about body and sex.

Let’s try to understand or contextualize the Bois Locker Room incident in the changing Indian cultural perceptions about body and sex. We actually don’t fully own our bodies in the sense that their natural inclinations are always mowed like the lawn grass whenever they outgrow a desired size. However, given the less severity of the governing mechanisms, certain societies allow a better expression of these inclinations. Ours has been a typically sensitive and constrained society. Almost all the discourses in practice from religion to law and philosophy have influenced our perceptions about body and sex. Mostly, these discourses have constructed our body, sex or desire as something extremely private and forbidden so much so that some don’t even mention the common genital complications in the most critical situations. Ironically, you may have acquired or access to all new trends in different fields of education and still you won’t only shirk from talking about body and sex but, with a strange willing submission, allow yourself to remain uneducated about the two. We have internalized an estrangement of our own body where we not only demean but nearly disown ourselves. Secondly, we have been implicitly introjected to associate base, vulgar, dirty and culturally very offensive things with various body organs. Upon a mere touch, believing it to be dirty, we wash our hands. Similarly, we have normalized repression of desire through alienating the physical means of its expression. This historically embedded alienation is also evident from the practical moral and lexical discourses. Nowhere does it manifest so conspicuously than in the powerful cultural discourse of language where both are implicitly dodged in an apparently sophisticated lexicon.

However, what Bois Locker Room scandal has exposed is the slow, almost imperceptible, change that gradually seeps into both social structuration and human behavior. Interestingly, the pace of this intervention has been unprecedented like the technological advancement in recent years. The disciplinary mechanism of the society has been quite accommodative to these advancements given the potential they have to drive the economy. Technology, combined with several other decisive factors, has significantly altered our perceptions about body and sex. Since metropolitan cities are technologically busier and stronger, these cultural fissures are more likely to occur there, more so in the younger generation because it is unfamiliar and disconnected with the previous cultural inhibitions about body and sex. Therefore, in my opinion, Bios Locker incident was not entirely unexpected rather something that was already in the making within culture.

Excessive exposure to foreign culture with the help of technology and the handling of body thereof, availability of online nudes, open celebration of the erstwhile bodily oddities, objectification or commercialization of both body and sex, growing class inequality, mixing at workplaces, easy accessibility to information and availability of medicine have slowly retrieved body from the burden of inhibitions and made sex look quite normal like the washing of hands.

For all the young school-going teens involved in the infamous Bois Locker Room chat, body is no more a privacy or something to shirk away from. It is just like the other easily available object for making fun. The erstwhile enforced repression and morally repulsive associations with body are losing relevance. Contrarily, as the scandalous youthful conversations also vindicate, the expression and exhibition of body, with the erstwhile loathsome bodily instincts openly sublimated as the purity of desire, is easily noticeable in the modern popular culture. We are living in a time when body is no more a mystery and sex no more limited to a particular category of people. Even the feminist interpretation of the incident as the objectification of female body doesn’t seem to be entirely convincing, for female body itself can’t escape this collectivistic change. This change has subtly spun itself into the functional machinery of our culture.

Exposure to porn images, visuals and even movies has also destroyed the suppressed sanctity of body as well as that of the institution of marriage. This can be also interpreted as the slow, however radically unconventional in the cultural context, unfolding (rupture) of a repressed collective unconscious. And calling it a serious moral or legal infringement, a case of unbridled freedom or excessive phallocentrism won’t be convincing either. This change, may sound profoundly unwanted, is essentially cultural. Therefore, any serious containment depends upon the strict procedural mechanism than berating the occurrence as culturally unexpected or unacceptable.  As long as the objectification of body or commercialization of sex doesn’t pose a serious threat to the economic logic of the governing mechanism, nothing can help constrain this growing cultural tendency.

Ghulam Mohammad Khan is Assistant Professor in Higher Education

Email id: gluoomkk@gmail.com


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