11/18/07

India Journal - I'm Having a Hard Time With...

It is very difficult for me to see how a Hindu in India could have ever, at one time, understood, embraced and practiced the Kama Sutra let alone the Tantric Arts. It is as though sexuality, regardless of any sacred aspect, is something so course here that it has been reduced to staring at women’s breasts, teasing and intimidating and generally playing for the fool any woman who might happen to simply walk by. It’s very hard to handle.
I have my tall, gorgeous, twenty-three year old daughter with me as I’m traveling through India. She is an intrepid traveler, going places on her own I could only dream of being brave enough to go to but she is often brought to her edge by Indian men. And women. The men won’t let her be. There is always some man, young or old, who is outright staring at her, bumping her or harassing her. It’s sad and alarming. It makes travel here uncomfortable a lot of the time. I even get some of it myself, at my age. It has put us in deep wonder about women’s lives here.
Women in the villages and small towns, which is most women, won’t come out of their dark, smoky, hidden little kitchens if the men are around. They won’t look at you, acknowledge you or stick around if we two women come near. If the men are gone to the fields or away sitting talking with other men, which is what they all seem to be doing all of the time in the cities, all breaks open with the women. They come out – really OUT. It’s like night and day.
So many times while traveling we have had this same thing happen. The women are chatty, curious and aggressive – to the point of being scary sometimes – but only if their men are far away. We have been pinched, poked, prodded and cajoled. We have been asked to give up our clothing, jewelry, scarves, pens and anything else that appealed and looked like something they could tell a good story about later. Luckily, we all have laughed together a lot, too, during these encounters. You have to be able to laugh – a lot – at yourself and at the situation. It is the best policy by far.
But what does this mean for their intimate lives? And how, as women, do we understand and accept the fact that in EVERY family, whether villagers or city folk, there is NEVER more than one girl among the children? There are always three to four or more boys of varying ages but never more than one girl. She is often the oldest or second to oldest, too.
What this tells us is that Indian women, whether Hindu or Muslim, must decide how to let their girls go. They get to keep one, only one. Older is better as she’ll be of valuable help to the mother, but after SHE is born there must be now only boys. Can you even imagine what that must feel like? I can’t even fathom it. I’m the mother of three girls and no boys. When I say that, which I do often, I get a sad, poor me kind of face from everyone. I am defective they think. How is this possible, they are wondering.
Imagine killing your daughters. You get just one, remember. Do you give that first one you don’t get to keep to your powerful mother-in-law, who had to do the same with her ‘extra’ girls? Do you be brave and leave her outside, under a bush, away from your home a bit, so you won’t think about it? How can you not think about it? Ever. What about the next and the next? How many times does an Indian woman have to do this in her life? She has to live through nine months of a pregnancy then, not knowing if it is a girl or that wanted boy, go through birth just to have a fifty-percent chance of starting all over again, very soon, to try again for that boy. If there are an average of four boys in a family and one girl then she might have had to do it maybe four or five times in her life. Just don’t attend the new baby girl - leave her, nature will do the rest. Does that make the one girl that does get to survive thankful – is she burdened at a very young age with that thought?
It is all too much for me sometimes. I can’t fathom it. It is because of money – the dowry. It is a burden on families to have to come up with a big pay-off for the girl to get married. Sometimes, even after that, the family is haunted by their new in-laws and their daughter’s husband to give more – the first wasn’t enough. It can drive women to suicide or worst, murder on the part of the husband or his family.
I know that balance is within me. I know that everything is perfect, just the way it is. The Universe is perfect. And yet, I can’t balance this. It doesn’t compute. Sorry for my rants. I know it isn’t very ‘sexy’ but it is THE WAY in the land of the Kama Sutra. I am wondering about sex now. What is that like for Indian men and women?
Love,
Suzie

4 comments:

T said...

Wow. I had no idea...

Thank you for sharing with us Suzie! Good luck on your travels.

-Tonya

Anonymous said...

Living in India is definitely difficult for the ladies, with the sexual starvation of men (they are boys really), the lack of education to all (AIDS is on the rise), the crazed moral police, the lack of privacy, the overbearing families, the lawlessness, the social acceptance of poor male behavior (they're all good boys)...
Check out "the Sexpert" in the Mumbai Mirror to touch on the depth of the problem

Suzie Heumann said...

Anonymous,
Every point you make hits the problem square on! How astute of you - you certainly understand the situation. I have a friend who postulated that because marriages are arranged very few couples are actually ever 'in love' and closely connected. The wife then goes to her husbands family were she has no real allies, and begins to produce babies. It is her sons that she has the first, close female male relationships with in her life and they may become somewhat smothered by this. Hence, when they marry they're a bit afraid of their wives because of their sub-conscious experiences with the mother. A cycle of mis-trust develops, generation after generation, that rarely gets the chance to heal. More complicated, but, in essence,both a longing and a distancing of the male/female dynamic.
Thanks again for your insight.

Mad Dad said...

Suzie,

You should write that book, the anonymous gift to the men of India and the world... the book which speaks of developing Truth between the principle partners of human procreation; the woman and the man. In India, things will change... the universe is seeing to it right now. You are not the centre of the universe but are more aligned with it's movement than the archaic attitudes of the social power brokers of the developing world. Fear not to have moral authority, if your compassionate heart bleeds for someone less fortunate... especially widows and bastards and the worlds' worthless baby girls.
I am reminded that your work will take generations. Many children will be left out to be saved. Start an agency to begin the process and I will drop my work to join you.

Sandes