Kamla Does A Slut Walk

I don’t have much to do with sluts as I don’t have to do much with shaving cream. I am not a man and I have no use for either. I also don’t quite buy the argument that sluts are a helpless lot with sex being forced upon them night after night; I don’t also imagine that sluts don’t enjoy being fucked around for most of the times. Yet they are exploited, exploited by the very men they are used by; men don’t make them poor and destitute or don’t attack their livelihoods, but they exploit them by refusing to acknowledge their existence. This relegation into invisibility, the denial of their beings constitutes one of the greatest indignities that are heaped upon sluts. Sluts, being what they are, cannot claim to do otherwise. Poets, artists, authors and scholars whenever they have tried to see a slut from her point of view have invariably seen her pain at missing being a woman. The slut desires to be a woman because she wishes to emerge as a visible, veritable and vindicated entity in the society. But when a woman wants to be a slut, I become curious. In the Slut Walk that will be held in Delhi on the 31st of July 2011, women will identify themselves as sluts and speak on from such position.
The feminist movement notwithstanding its many victories has encountered some serious challenges. In a recent article in the Hindustan Times Brunch magazine, Tavishi Rastogi writes of any woman called Kamla who returns home after giving up a successful career because her womanly chores like housekeeping and child rearing demands more and more time from her. In fact, Geetanjali Prasad in her book the Great Indian Family says that the Indian joint family is coming back precisely because women find their in-laws to be a positive contribution in the form of child minders and house managers. But in Tavishi’s article, the Kamlas of India in particular and the world in general are returning home unable to cope with the burden of their own successes which are landing them up in high paying and high demanding jobs. While it is understandable that child rearing and home making is becoming more resource intensive by the day, and there has to be a pay off between the money the woman earns for the household versus the value of the time she devotes to her domestic duties, what gets largely unnoticed is that slight under the breath statement about office politics being a decisive factor in making her leave her job. Indeed, when our office announced a VRS, the women among us who left were also the ones who were victimized in office politics. They of course did not say this and instead cited distance, cost of travelling and so on.
Kamla’s coming back home is her invisibilization, her glass ceiling, the cede of her F word. Had she been steeped in her traditional role of a woman, the final authority of the domestic space, it would be one thing. But it is quite another thing that she looked down upon her meaningless life at home, she decried her status behind the drapes, she defied her veil and looked outwards into a wide world where she would be free irrespective of her gender. Then why did she chicken out? Why did she return with her tail tucked between her legs, head down and shoulders drooped? No one but she herself has to be blamed for it.
An important training that I had in mathematics was to understand that the solution to a problem lies concealed within the premise of the sum. The better one understands the premise, the better one would do in solving the problem. A possible reason why Kamla could not sustain her F was because she rushed through the premise in haste. Kamla did not observe well that the degradation of the feminine lay in a manner in which she was constructed as being an appendage to a man’s role and functions in the world. Kamla did not observe well that if she asserted equality with men and also her femininity, the two were becoming irreconcilable terms. As an equal she could not be adjunct to a man and were she to be free of him she would be seriously compromised in her femininity. The age turned so that its wisdom often called out to the Vimlas, Kamlas and Sarlas that what was the use of them being women if they were not put to a man’s use? It was inevitable that in her demand for equality Kamla was faced with a choice, either to be equal or to be a woman. This choice she could not make; much less she never understood that this was a choice that had to be made.
Why does a man claim superiority over a woman? He does this because of a Durkhemian social division of labour associated with social differentiation and when such social differentiation is put to use to create new societies with new possibilities as the ones Emile Durkheim studied, difference brings about hierarchy. If women are to challenge this hierarchy then women must also challenge their assignment to gendered roles. While women did the former, they hesitated like hell in leaving their gendered roles. This is why work is a choice for so many women, but marriage and child bearing, cooking and cleaning, ironing the husband’s clothes and having sex with him is a compulsion. When in the case of the Kamlas of the world, work and home begin to conflict with each other, it becomes a struggle of choice over compulsion; she returns home to her compulsions. The woman who returns home is therefore a loser in the eyes of her man. She had been there, done it all, tasted everything and then seen that the world is not for her, she is not a fit in it. Kamla’s assertion and then the cancellation of that assertion jeopardize the Vimlas and the Sarlas who anyway would never have asserted. It is like a terrorist bomber; one mad person and the entire ilk get stereotyped. My mother is an exemplary person in my family as a career housewife; the kind of respect she earns is not possible for a woman of my generation. If today’s woman is a devoted housewife then she is a loser because she does not work; if she is a worker then she is to be pitied because of her daily failures at home.
The problem with the woman is that she refuses to give up her domestic space while asserting her rights in the work area. The separation of the home and work and the rendering of the domestic as the private were the two episodes that really feminized the female and made the feminine into something associated with sex and reproduction, leaving the rest like property, work and wealth to men. If women must assert their presence in the public space, the one thing they must agree is to dissociate with the domestic sphere where she gets trapped as a sexual object. This duality of the female persona has terrible consequences for women in all walks of life.
The “must” of marrying and having children, the flaunt of sexuality by women even as they wish to be as equal as men, the much lauded “management” of home and work by “superwomen” of advertisements pathetically jeopardize the feminist cause. It is here that men catch them, ridicule them for being a woman after all of this, for needing them despite seeking freedom from them. It is here that women become the object of a man’s contempt, her sexuality is cast aside to be merely a means for his fulfillment and she as a whole being is rendered as a hopelessly ill-defined human being. As one who wants to work, she is unfeminine; as one who wishes to remain a woman, she becomes a slut. The slut walk reaffirms the same mistake that she has been making all the while, asserting her sexuality and also her individuality when it is clear that they are contradiction in terms.
Why does a woman try to be both the public and the private, why does she wish to be in both places at the same time? The social differentiation has happened because the spheres are articulated and distinguished, why then does she deny the very process that rendered into a non entity in the first place? Who said that sex is important? If sex is a need of the body, then yoga is a greater need, aerobics is also a need, then do we exercise compulsively? If not, then why do we need sex? Until and unless women can deny sex, give it up, treat it like a dispensable episode, women can never be free. Like Kamla she will be defeated repeatedly, raped, molested, violated and murdered. These are the occupational hazards of a slut, and they will be so for women who insist on sex as being indispensable to staying alive.

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About secondsaturn

Independent Scholar. Thinker and not doer. Too lazy to succeed. Indifferent towards career. But pursues excellence.
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