Power, resistance & resilience

Power, resistance & resilience

The never-ending fight with traditional moralists continues for the inclusivity of social, cultural, and political divisions of sexuality, writes Shilok Mukkati

My journey of communication advocacy began in 2013 when the Supreme Court reinstated Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. I was 18 and I had just begun to explore the diversity of sexual and gender identities before the overturning of the Delhi High Court’s judgement of consensual sexual liberty between adults. I still remember standing in Bengaluru’s Town Hall and voicing out aloud “Nanna Deha, Nanna Hakku” (My Body, My Rights). In 2018, when the court reversed its own verdict of 2013, we did win the judicial fight for sexual liberty in the nation. What’s next? The never-ending fight with traditional moralists continues for the inclusivity of social, cultural, and political divisions of sexuality.

Sexual rights across the globe have been localised and subjected according to their cultural history. Today, such local politics has got embedded with the impact of globalisation. The evolution of global connections has universalised values, ideas, and perceptions. In India, the triangle of sex, sexuality, and gender has been interconnected with caste, class, and other social regimes. Diffusion of male privileges of sexuality, vocalising the female sexuality and non-heterosexuality has been more complicated in India due to the history of alpha male mechanism. India is a country that has contributed to the enormous knowledge of sexual liberty. The book Kamasutra, an ancient Indian script of sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfilment, written in 400 BCE–200 CE or the erotic symbolism of the Khajuraho temple built in 1050, is a testimony of the history of sexual liberty. Now the question here is what penetrated to transcend the country with a history of liberal eroticism and sexuality?  

In Duty and desire: Creating a feminist morality (1983) Cartledge says “Sex is a focus for powerful things.” I believe that the subjective experience of eroticism is also contradictory in many ways. Sexuality in its various forms of intimacy, empathy, tenderness, love, and an endless gamut of impressions is confined to the process of procreation. Procreation is one of the aspects of sex that is historically subjected to heterosexuality, now which is also been defused by the evolution of science. The question we need to ask is male insecurity the reason for the orthodox approach to sexuality and is marriage an institutionalised version of holding that power? As much as I adore the sacredness and celebration of marriage, I cannot oversee the hierarchy of patriarchal management. 

I also do not understand what bothers some of us to acknowledge others’ sexual freedom? The provocative nature and moral anxiety of traditional moralists towards the liberalisation of sexuality and gender identity is the fear of demystifying sex. The division of normal and abnormal, natural and unnatural is phobia towards permissiveness. French Philosopher Michel Foucault says, “Where there is power, there is resistance”. And if sex is the power it is also the truth of our being.   

(The author is a performer, poet & feminist activist who has left a mark with her art, poetry, LGBTQIA+ talks, and feminist ideologies. This column will share untold stories of inclusivity & diversity.)

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