Of the many kinds of people I wanted to meet in my life, one was a prostitute. The others would include a convict on a death row, a hangman, a magician, and a Supreme Court judge who just upheld a death sentence. It was therefore a moment of interest when a mutual friend said that he would bring along with him, his “friend”. It seems that she was very keen to see me. She has been asking a mutual friend in much details about me because a woman like me who is more kicked by reading and writing than by having sex, a woman who finds it too much of a botheration to decorate herself, and feels low at the very thought of being nice to men and one who finds power in earning her own living rather than by sleeping it off with a man, is a wonder of the world. When this lady walked into my room this afternoon, I almost mistook her for a eunuch for she had a broad face, wiped white with bleach, loud make up, broad shoulders, narrow waist which disappeared into very narrow hips. Her skin was thick, and though she was in her early fifties, she insisted on dressing up like a new bride. Her coy, her coquetry, her downcast eyes, her side slopped smile all were calculated to please the male eye. It took her sometime to believe that I was a woman too because I was so much beyond my body, my gynaecology so little impacting me that she was at a loss at my neutrality. But sitting across my desk, I saw her trembling so badly that I suspected that she was going to have an epileptic attack ! So hurriedly, I ordered for lunch.
She was clear that she did not want to eat any lunch. She said that she had to maintain her figure and lived off fruits and salads. I apologised because I could access none such fancy food in the menu. So I thought she could do with some chapatti and aloo matar tamatar. She ate apologetically, apologising more to her conscience than to me, insisting at every bite that it is so improper for her to eat. Eating for women is very unsexy and while I ate with relish with my bare hands licking my fingers all the way through lunch, she pecked at her food with the slight touch of the tip of a teaspoon. There was no common ground on which to break into a conversation. I asked her about her family and learnt that she has her daughters in law and grandchildren, she is the main breadwinner of the family; no husband earned quite a bit but then she wanted a large flat in a posh locality, how one could ever do that without any extra income and political connections. These connections which she developed over her long career paid her off handsomely because she does have a flat in a posh locality now. She wanted to have a political career as well but men, being men, were so chauvinist that they pushed her away. So her dreams of a career in politics were over. An influential politician however gave her a good advice and made her into a social worker. Her job was to address issues of domestic violence in Delhi homes and quite a few women had bad battering husbands who she could “rescue”. These women helped her expand her network of influence and extend her market shares; with age no longer on her side and no one much caring for middle aged hags, the drop in her income was compensated by commission accrued through the rescued younger women.
I asked her about crime against women and she was so quick to ask for the resignation of ‘so-and-so’. Who is the person who should resign, I asked, the CM, or the Police Commissioner? She did not seem to know and looked around picking at her nails painted in deep green while the light green glass bangles tinkled away at her indecision. Why do you think women are being raped? I asked her; again a coy smile, no answer. I see her fingers are shaking violently; I stop my probes, fearing again the epilepsy. What should women do in order to intimidate men from attacking? Again, no answer, no idea. She has no position on the issue of sexual violence, the most pertinent question especially in the world she inhabits. She seems to be too much into the Stockholm syndrome, desiring men all the more keenly more violent they become.
According to the lady, husbands create prostitutes out of women; not always by battering for some can be quite nice, but by not earning enough, not giving enough to satisfy the feminine needs. Women eke out their own worlds in prostitution; they get to sleep with men, they get to wear good clothes, look good, go for slimming packages, have salads and healthy food and when they earn good money also garner freedom from domestic controls upon them. Prostitution is the only way to become free of the controls of marriage even while remaining in it. A very long winded way towards freedom, I felt.
I am a very tolerant person like my parents. For me to be repulsed by another human being is cruel. But it was sitting across this lady that I genuinely felt impure and dirty; not because she was sleeping with all kinds of men, but because how tied to sex she was, how oblivious her attachment to her desire had made her to the questions of female autonomy, violence against women, how ignorant she was to her rights, how little she ever thought of anything beyond her gratifications about public order, law, ethics and governance; how little else in the world mattered to her except he addiction to men and where she could get her next fix from.
How sad is the attitude of the lady in question…In this case I use the term “lady” loosely..the term “loosely” also seems unintentionally appropriate. 😉 !! Humor aside, in cultures similar to the author’s, (and mine) I believe it’s attitudes like that, that hinder the social progress of women and their acceptance as equals in and by society. Although, let’s not forget that sadly there are infinitely more widespread cases of prostitution which genuinely arise out of greed and evil intentions on the part of man, and also sometimes because of the naivete, innocence and necessity of the victims, rather than plain desire.