Once, while taking my clothes from her room, I saw my eighteen year old cousin smiling without taking her eyes from the book that she was reading. While trying to wear it, I noticed that it was her skirt. When I placed it where I had taken it from, keeping her eyes on the book, she said smiling, “That is not for you.” I wanted to run away, but I loved how I felt. I was twelve then.
As a toddler, I loved playing with my mother’s hair and Saree. I did not, because I feared that it was not acceptable—and because I was a moralist.
Many argue that Indian men are not sad to the point that they are aroused by the sight of lingerie. Unfortunately for our enlightened fellows, there is solid evidence that the moral police are right. If fashionable causes can make Indian men and women go yelling to the barricades, the view that they are not excitable is bogus.
Once when a Facebook friend joined a publication I had worked with, the editor Mr.Old-Fashioned told her, “You can’t wear “dresses” here.”. She thought, her head reeling, “But, this can’t be happening.” After ten days, she ran away. Kaliyug. But, isn’t it strange that paternalism in the social and cultural sphere do not go unnoticed here? The concepts of individual liberty and enlightenment are unheard of here.
The intelligent liberals are yet to come to grips with the fact that their “Robin Hood-esque” policies too have its roots in paternalism. As the Philosopher Michael Huemer argues, that this clustering of logically unrelated beliefs cannot be explained cognitively. Not surprisingly, this contradiction has not escaped my detractor:
“A peculiar nature of the liberal condition is that you must believe in many dissimilar things. You must believe that the world is warming, that a dam is the architecture of evil, capitalism is a disease, your wife has to be liberated (further), the Indian army is oppressing Kashmiris, homosexuals deserve equal rights, Nandita Das films are good, the opposite of a politician is a candle, animals have to be saved, there is only one God.”
Poor Gul Panag! For making an internally consistent argument, I think that the intelligent people are torturing her, and God-only-knows-for-how-long.
Is it possible that lingerie and mannequins arouse men? If it can have a terrific effect on children and permanently alter their predilections, is this implausible? I think not. In “Lives of the courtesans”, Lynne Lawner says that falling in love with statues and paintings and making love to them is an ancient fantasy that Renaissance was keenly aware of. In those days, men used to defy the law to make love with marble figures. In Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Pygmalion falls in love with the statue he himself had made. It was more real to him than any real woman.
Ordinary men and women are attracted to the person that offers them the grossest sexual provocation. Am I sad because I am moved by concepts, objects and experiences that are suggestive like Mannequins, lingerie or the hard touch of female palms? I think otherwise. It is said that our most grievous fault is that ours is a country where nuance is dead.
I have always found seemingly innocuous remarks and concepts exciting. My mother used to say that smacking me was a great stress-buster. She had to tuck one end of the Saree in to her waist, and bend to mete out the punishment. That was a good exercise and a great stress-buster. I liked it, because mind is the origin of all meaning. It amused me that she left marks on my body with her open palm.
When a lady I shall call Miss Books Editor once screamed at me, I loved the expression on her face because it was a moment when I saw anger being mixed with smart and shame—and helplessness. It amused me that we were bound together by the knowledge of a private truth—that I have never really read my published articles because semi-literates had touched them. I sat there, thinking: “Lol. Dominatrix fetish. It is said that vengeance is a lazy form of grief, but this certainly turns me on.”
It fascinates me that anger and humiliation are closely linked. I amuse myself seeing how people respond to the truths that I otherwise would not tell because I am a sentimentalist at heart. I love teasing people by reminding them that I had seen through them. Such are the thoughts behind the social experiments that interest me.
Direct pleasures do not interest me. I find sex, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and pornography repulsive. I need a cover, and a rationalization for indulging in hedonism. I do not read much fiction because I find them too harsh on my delicate sensibilities. I do not know why people write things that are not beautiful. I do not know why people read them.
H. L. Mencken once said that when he was a child, girls were only cat-like creatures with pig-tails to be pulled. I think I am permanently arrested at that level of development, sexually, when most people are arrested at that level of development, intellectually. In my teens, I did not understand why men and women like being kissed. While watching movies, I used to close my eyes. Or, I would just switch the channel. Is it plausible that this makes me sad? I think not. I love female feet, palms, and the tip of their fingers. And I think I love pulling their ears and playing with their hair.
The conversations I have liked were always the ones that were there, but not quite there. I love conversations where we compare philosophies, and cross-check for the contradictions in our beliefs. I was always curious about the inner-workings of a first rate mind. Perhaps that is the only kind of women that I can like. Someone who can beat me at my own game, someone who can see through me, and is capable of using intelligence as a whip. It is such conversations that turn me on, and not someone who offers me the grossest sexual provocation. I had once said that I prefer a dowdy old hag who understands my insults to a pretty young girl who cannot tell satire from Sartre.
I was nineteen when a girl conned me into a conversation on breasts, and strangely, I liked it. When I told her: “You’ve just spoiled me”, she retorted, “But, you looked like a boy who was waiting to be spoiled.”
My tastes have evolved since then, but they are still outside the mainstream—not just outside the mainstream, but way outside the mainstream. If I should convince myself that all this makes me sad, I need better arguments.
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