Shikha Dalmia in The Wall Street Journal On Why India Needs To Jettison Its Prudery

Twice a year, in spring and fall, India's Hindus celebrate Navrati, a nine-day festival during which they pray each day to a different female deity. Navrati culminates in "kanya puja," or a day of maiden worshiping: Every household invites over the young girls of the neighborhood and, led by the father or patriarch, bows before them, washes their feet, prays to them, offers them a specially prepared feast of vegetarian delicacies and showers them with gifts and money.

Such veneration of women may surprise foreign observers of India, considering the recent epidemic of rapes there and publicity about the everyday harassment that Indian women face—lewd gestures, catcalls, groping and worse. Some have blamed modernity, suggesting that India needs to return to its past. But when it comes to "eve teasing" (as this practice is euphemistically called), I would argue the opposite: It is precisely the stubborn hold of India's prudish culture that has made many Indian men so callow.

Go here to read the whole thing. You'll need a subscription, though.

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  • ||

    Religious zealotry can make people violent assholes? Who'da thunk it?

  • Inigo M.||

    The irony is that Hinduism is by far the most female-celebrating of all the major religions. As for prudery, let's not forget this is the country that brought us the Kama Sutra and ancient religious temples decorated with statues of couples doing it. I suspect the violence against women in India is cultural rather than religious. Just because someone is a traditionalist asshole doesn't automatically make him a religious asshole. Lots of supposedly observant people the world over actually make a mockery of the very religious principles they claim to be professing.

  • Irish||

    The irony is that Hinduism is by far the most female-celebrating of all the major religions. As for prudery, let's not forget this is the country that brought us the Kama Sutra and ancient religious temples decorated with statues of couples doing it.

    It's also the country that burned widows on their husbands' funeral pyres as part of their religious practices. This went on until the 1900s.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    No, it had nothing to do with religion, per se. Sati was always culturally bound and was always more common in certain parts of India than others.

  • ||

    Man I wish they would give up prudery, Indian girls can be some of the most beautiful women you'll ever see.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Could someone give me the Cliff's Notes version of the article? I don't subscribe to the WSJ.

  • ||

    Google "India Needs a Sexual Revolution" and you can see it for free through the WSJ link there.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Thank you kindly!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The bottom line: Men marry later, and until then they are often virgins, so they expressed their repressed instincts by rubbing against women on trains, etc.

    "What would work? Nothing short of transforming India's puritanical culture and giving men and women more freedom to forge sexually mature relationships outside of marriage....

    "But the process will take generations. Given India's starting point in ancient traditions, one can hope that it will result in a balance healthier than what has unfolded in the over-sexualized West. But unfold it must, because the status quo demeans India's daughters—and warps its sons."

    I would think that "what has unfolded in the over-sexualized West" should be a *huge* danger signal. I'm not an expert on Indian culture, but I have some knowledge of Western culture, and extramarital sex hasn't exactly promoted greater respect for women. Not to mention the social pathologies of, say single motherhood which affect men.

  • lap83||

    Yes, exactly.

    The whole idea of "sexual repression causes rape!" is so half-baked and easily disproven with a modicum of experience and historical evidence. I think this is the first time I've heard it seriously argued since high school.

  • lap83||

    I think the most glaring problem with the argument is equating inappropriate behavior like groping with prudishness. So if a society full of horny men with no self-control is "repressed" then all the guys in an openly sexual society would do, what, scrapbooking and knitting? Sounds like the kind of inept "thinking" that I would expect from Jezebel, not Reason.

  • SIV||

    Sounds like the kind of inept "thinking" that I would expect from Jezebel, not Reason.

    Check the byline.

  • RBS||

    I'm pretty disappointed reason replaced Cavanaugh with Dalmia in the print edition.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    You don't have to hypothesize about what would happen in an openly sexual society; we're pretty close to it in America these days. And rape and other violations of women's individual rights are at an all time low.

    And yeah, "horny men with no self-control" is pretty redundant if you look at history/anthropology.

  • Dweebston||

    How much of that is sexual liberalization and how much the insulation against poverty that the modern welfare state affords unmarried mothers? Charles Murray makes the point in Losing Ground with respect to black men forfeiting a place as husband and father in families who no longer need a provider. I wouldn't characterize ours as a system failing to show women proper respect, but women choosing rationally to forgo marriage and a two-parent family given the incentives.

    It's a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem, but I don't think it's unreasonable to think that social mores might fall out of fashion even without the system of perverse incentives that Western countries employ.

  • Dweebston||

    (Caveat: it's a chicken and egg problem if you haven't read any history on the subject, which I haven't. Feel free to skewl me, I probably need it.)

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    I have some knowledge of Western culture, and extramarital sex hasn't exactly promoted greater respect for women.

    You're talking about a very different concern from Ms Dalmia's. Violence against women in the West is at an all-time low. "Respect" is an altogether different matter, which given your posting history I suspect you think means not objectifying women in one's sexual fantasies or using crude language to them and about them?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Giving them children to raise by themselves isn't very respectful. Not to them or the community as a whole.

  • Bill||

    Might be better than never having children though.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I don't get Dalmia's accusation of "prudishness" and "puritanicalism" in India. India currently has 1.22 billion people. Some Indians must be fucking alot.

  • Dweebston||

    If their women aren't behaving like drunken college freshmen, they're sexually repressed. Or at least rather inconvenient.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-VA)||

    Connecting sex with reproduction is pretty puritanical in itself, no? Anyway, India's fertility rate is not that high for the "developing" world, about 2.58 last year.

  • Hasan||

    mynet sohbet mynet sohbet chat ve sohbet sohbet mynet sohbet

  • ||

    Hare rama hare rama, rama rama, hare hare.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Hey batter batter, hey batter

  • Goldwyn Smith||

    Jai-ho?

  • WomSom||

    Dude totally knows whats going on over there.

    www.AnonThis.tk

  • JeremyR||

    This is the other side of what is wrong with open borders immigration. Why is an immigrant to the US fighting for change while in the US, for her home country?

    It's completely hypocritical. If you want to change India, stay in India and work for change there, don't just heckle from halfway around the world. Part of the reason 3rd world countries remain so is because their best and brightest don't work to make their homes better, but follow the money and go to another country.

  • JeremyR||

    Then again, let's be honest, writing columns and working for think tanks is just slacktivisim, albeit the cocktail party sort.

  • Flemur||

    "You'll need a subscription, though."

    Wrong as usual. Google the title and read - or ignore, considering the author - the cached version.

  • 4thaugust1932||

    Shikha should mention which caste in India does that.

  • Acosmist||

    Callow?

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