Since last few days a controversy is burning on Facebook among the folks because Babu Kuzhimattom, a writer from my home state Kerala in india and the MD of The Kerala Book Marketing Society put up a Facebook post that many people found offensive and say is very demeaning to women.
The post is in the image here, it is in malayalam, so I will try to put the gist of what he wrote. he wrote that his car driver lost control of the car when he noticed a lady walking on the sidewalk wearing leggings. His point was that the driver was aroused by seeing this ‘lady in leggings’ and unfortunately he cannot blame the driver because he too (being much older) feels what he calls a “Penis motion” (erection if you prefer a single word). Some people found this to be very offensive. He continued by saying that men when compared to women do not need words of love and caressing and only need so little as a “lady in leggings” to be aroused and that is just a natural wiring of the male. He did not stop there and went on to quote (in a favorable manner) an old saying that “elders in older times said that women should dress and act more appropriately”. This was enough for the social media to wake up. I have not read any of his works, but thought I should write something on this post of his. One because he is from Kerala and other because I have (I think) a slightly different take on this.
What can be said and cannot be said is a very debatable thing. My right and limits will not be your right and limits. There are common things every people agree on. Like posting their family picture, food they eat, drinks, selfies, quotes of others etc…. Atheist posts create a divide between the people who believe and don’t, so does political opinions. When it comes to Racists remarks mostly people avoid putting anything close to being racist on social media even if they harbor such thoughts silently because it is considered bad to be racist and can get you in some real trouble even outside the media. But sex and its subsidiary thoughts kind of fall somewhere in between these and gets more attention in some societies compared to others.
Let us take the sex (vulgarity for some) aspect of Babu’s post. He said that seeing a girl in leggings creates an arousal in man. It is not completely correct. Not correct because some people have more control on what visual they give in to and you cannot be generalize such a thing. It is ok in one way because it is natural to be aroused when you see something that you feel an arousal for; leggings for babu and his driver. I am sure Babu will agree that who wears the leggings also matters. That being said being aroused does not mean people will act in a bad way so having an arousal is not unnatural.
Now Babu might have thought this post will be humorous, because there is a general tendency to joke around sex and many of these jokes are quite demeaning to women like the marriage jokes you see where the male gets a laugh at the expense of a female. But in Babu’s case it back fired because may be he was too explicit and above all he showed his favor to that old saying which very clearly made him step on the ‘F’ word, and I mean ‘Freedom’. If he had avoided that I am sure he would have had more people support the right to his Freedom of expression. Because it is a fact that your ‘Freedom of Expression’ will be questioned if what you do effects someone else’s Freedom of Expression.
Babu commenting humorously about the incident and putting the whole blame of the driver losing control on the way a lady dressed is kind of silly, but not a very harmful thing in my opinion, but concluding that this would not happen if the lady dressed appropriate has some issue. A very clear male chauvinistic element which I am sure even Babu did not think much about. It has to do with the society as a whole of what we accept as joke and what we don’t, what we make fun of and what we don’t.
Both men and women make jokes at each other and even to the extent of demeaning each other, and the intention is not always bad, it is just some silly fun at the expense of the opposite sex. You ask women what jokes they make about men and I am sure they will have jokes that if men think will feel offended. But then there is a common belief that men should not be offended if they are poked fun at, because they are beyond this. In an equal world both a male and female can make jokes of each other and both should not feel offended. That is freedom, that is freedom of expression.
Now if you ask the driver he will tell you… not just him, but anyone who drives can tell you that you don’t lose control of a car because you had an erection when you saw a ‘lady in leggings’. But Yes you will lose control if you don’t focus on your driving, it can be opposite sex, a fight on the side walk, someone you know waving and communicating at you, giving attention to a billboard on the side, anything. A billboard of an actress in a revealing outfit with some writing on it will have more chances to lose control of the steering wheel. Again if it was really an arousal that made the driver lose his control, he should be taken to the doctor. I wonder what would happen if he watches a movie or goes to the theme park or something. That is scary.
Now for Babu quoting in favor of that old saying by elder’s “that girls should act and wear appropriately, because men cannot control” is just like saying that he has diabetics and so others should not buy and eat cookies and chocolate. Well diabetics or erection, the control should be in his and his driver’s hands; if not they will get into trouble.
Finally I think some people have these weird thought about Freedom. yes sometimes it should be called the longer ‘F’ word. There are things that are inappropriate to say at times and once you say the best you can do is not defend it, apologize and move on. And when it comes to the people who hear this, they should stop getting offended. We make ourselves so more serious than what we can handle and still harp that we should be happy.. The point is simple. Babu has freedom of expression, and people have the freedom to wear what they want. But if Babu’s freedom of expression puts forward an idea that curtails someone else’s freedom of choice, then there is a small problem and that is what in my opinion happened here.
I think that is enough words for this silly controversy. Can’t help it; it is my home town. And at the same time I remember the hue and cry the poem “Penis Hunger” by the poet Vishnu prasad made among malayalees. People need to take things more easy and may be Babu should think before he posts.. May be he wanted this controversy… Anyway What the ‘F’… And who am I to say all these, even I get offended for silly things, like getting offended and being touchy is in our mallu blood…. So the motto should be just chill, Have Fun with our Freedom and don’t F with it…