Sunday, February 26, 2006

sex, violence and a cola?

( source:

thats from the new pepsi ad. its horrible. the opening shot is of two women singing about the soft and smooth, and the man steps into the scene starting them off on the rough with the smooth (yawn). the women stop fawning over the bottle and instead switch to draping themselves over the guy. closing shot: man appears with an artistic black eye (and otherwise unchanged appearance) and a lipstick smeared face.

scintillating. sex and violence, the two essential facets of male sexuality that go together? its this kind of absolutely thoughtless media message that has so many people thinking violence is a very "normal" part of sexual relationships. when this kind of baggage and destructive conditioning is attached, of all things, to something as unconnected as a fizzy drink, its time to get very worried.

our movies and their way of showing rapes is so irresponsible - i was horrified to learn in the school intervention programs i went for, that so many kids still believe that crap about the woman actually "secretly" enjoying a rape or being pushed into sexual activity. i suppose it was only to be expected, the way our media glamourise violence and sex. look at the current trend of bollywood movies: being a violent killer is a fashion statement now!

dons are hot. so is being an "Agent" - anything as long as its men with guns, anonymous menacing sun glasses, beautiful ultraskinny women hanging on their arms like accessories. what the heck are we trying to say? youre not "man enough" to attract women unless youre going around blowing people's heads off?

unadulterated garbage. not only does this kind of linking of violence with sex make mutually considerate sexual relationships difficult, but it also belittles the thousands of women who get battered, stalked, assaulted and harassed.

by treating violence so casually - making it seem like an almost desirable aspect of a sexual relationship were refusing to acknowledge how shattering and traumatising these women's experiences have been. of all those images of unreal women we keep seeing in ads and movies, does even one show a glimpse of real life? what the hell are we thinking of.

thank god for campaigns like that one by amnesty international.

a reply to saale -

if i understand you correctly, you wish to know why i think a relationship is being forged between sex and violence.

in my understanding, violence and sex are both employed as status symbols in patriarchy. both glorify the "do-er" because of the masculine aspect of projection. the recipient of the deed however, is objectified.

violence is obviously about domination and aggressively asserting superiority. sex has come to be regarded the same way. its no longer about being in a relationship as much as "whom are you fucking?". the recipient is important only as a testimony to the do-er's status.

patriarchy rejects the notion of another man taking the "weaker" or "passive" role and hence also opposes homosexuality strongly. the myth of male supremacy gets shattered in a homosexual relationship. this very aspect of sex being used to project superiority over the other person is probably also why so much of pornography (based on the objectification of women) features such violent, hardly consensual sex.

patriarchy also condones the use of violence as a legitimate means to gratify sexual desire. witness the growing incidences of violence against women and children, not to mention against perceived or actually gay men. theres a reason that armies - strongholds of patriarchal culture - use rape as a weapon of war.

the status game is used for both people: the victim "loses face" in admitting a rape, or being beaten by the partner. several women continue living with and finding excuses for abusive partners because in a typically patriarchal society, nobody gives a damn about the woman being abused, and the man is considered "macho" for beating her up. a complaint ironically only fetches the male attention and admiration. it doesnt get the woman support to leave her partner or aid to heal herself and start afresh.

if women find it difficult to speak about having been abused or raped, men have an even more difficult time when they are victims of these crimes, because in patriarchy the male archetype doesnt allow for any vulnerability or "softness" in a man. when a man therefore says that he has been raped, he is rejected for shattering the myth of male invulnerability and supremacy.

and for these reasons, i think its our business to question the linking of violence to sex, and keep opposing mass media's attempt to make us believe that such a relationship is normal, healthy, and (of all things) desirable.

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Blogger Wrong number said...

Thank you m. for being almost the lone voice of sensibility...
You have categorically stated that the linking of sex with violence is thoughtless and unfair. What I'm going to ask is to be answered not from its acceptability or likeability from the point of view of human sensibility. I want this answered ACCURATELY.
Can you prove conclusively that there is no inherent relationship between sex and violence?
Because, if you can prove this, then your post is bang on!
I'm not asking you if the link between sex and violence pleases you or horrifies you. I'm not asking you if you think it is good or bad for the community. I'm only asking you if it is true or false.
Your post has no logical basis without the proof of the existence or non-existence of the realtionship between sex and violence. And until you can do that logical analysis and state the exact nature of this relationship, you shall, it hurts me to say this, be more a demagogue than an activist. An inciter of emotions: Like Mark Anthony.
I prefer being Brutus. "censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge." Logic, not emotion...
Ofcourse, I shall not grudge you the admiration you will doubtless get from people; for your writing style AND the issues you talk about. I for one, will only question your axioms. I can see that your inferences are very much logical and rational. I'm not so sure your assumptions are always valid.

7:12 am  
Blogger the wannabe indian punkster said...

Militarism is achieved by creating an "other", creating distinctions between two groups. So consequently this "other" becomes a target:either to protect or to destroy. Women, predictably fall into this "other" category as women in most cultures are viewed as possesions of the MALE.
So, when a woman is either abused and/or sexually assaulted, it becomes an indirect attack on the "Macho image" or the "manhood" of a man.
Using this skewed reasoning, women are always targeted in war for rape/assault as a means of degrading the enemy, since women are essentially viewed as possesions, they become the spoils of war; to rape, plunder and to destroy.
Food for thought:In Rwanda, at least 250,000 women were raped in the 1994 genocide. During the 1990's, more than 20,000 Muslim women were raped as part of an "ethnic cleansing campaign" in Bosnia. And as recently as 2003, the U.N. reported thousands of women and girls had been raped during fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Gang rape was so widespread and brutal that doctors began classifying vaginal destruction as a combat-related crime.
The repercussions of sex and beyond is downright appalling.

12:20 pm  
Blogger m. said...

well said megha!

5:41 pm  
Blogger Rabin said...

Yyou know, i watched Visu's Arrattai arangam (a stupid group discussion program) on tv. The panelists came out with a few points that were hugely appreciated:

a) Girls who wear western clothing should not complain if guys misbehave with them. Men can't help themselves you see.

b) Girls should not be allowed cellphones at college, since this leads to them developing affairs with college going boys.

Both these points had thunderous claps from the audience. Before you gape, here's the funny part, ALL the panelists were college/school going girls or young working women.

We live in a stupid society. Stupid men...stupid women...stupid people.

8:12 am  
Blogger Senthil said...

The roots of sex being tied to violence goes back a long way. Among some animals (especially carnivores that exhibit pack behaviour), the dominant male often mounts the other males in the pack to assert his superiority over them. Though it is still a step removed from actual intercourse, it is an act that mimics sex, if only to establish the pack hierarchy.
Going around the other way, during the mating season, the males engage in a display of aggressiveness, often fighting each other in front of a prospective (female) mate. This brings the female into a state of arousal. This is, of course, evolution ensuring that the weaker traits of a species get filtered out.
And though the origins of that commonly overused four-letter expletive for sexual intercourse are a little obscure, researchers say that the closest ancestor of the term is the German word "Fokken", which means "strike". The connection doesn't get any more direct, does it?

I'm probably over-reaching here, but us humans linking sex and violence is more thanks to our primal instinct than to society. Rape, whether as an act of so-called "ethnic cleansing", or as an act of subjugation in a patriarchal society, has its roots buried much deeper, and they go way back. The solution to violence against women may well lie in the field of biology, as much as it does in sociology. Is that right? Sociology? Well, you know what I mean, anyway.

Anyways, random thoughts here, based on stuff I read ages ago, so in case there are errors - factual or otherwise, please put up corrections on this space.

8:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will only be a repetion if I say, "you dont ask for freedom, freedom is attained". M,regarding your statement "it doesnt get the woman support to leave her partner or aid to heal herself and start afresh.". why should a woman look for support?Its her life,if she knows,she is being exploited, the person who has committed the mistake should be punished. Same applies to guys as well. If his life is exploited, he has to take his stand.It is ultimately the person incase, who has to decide if the opportunity cost of his/her being with the partner is more than her life and self respect. If you say emotions,loneliness, there are always friends who can support you. world is big enough to accommodate people who belive in themselves and stick to their principles.

As long as you tend to fit into a pattern, you have to compromise. But then,there is a diffrence between choosing an option and compromising.

Just wondering how many women actually make fun of a metrosexual man leave alone gays. There are guys who are forced not to say that they are gay.

Every person has normal emotions, but they might differ in the ways people think.Emotions were attributed with tags like "crying" is associated with girls, "anger" with boys. Its society and hte atmosphere in which the kids are brought up determines the attitude of the kids towards gender. A normal person will treat his/her fellow being as a person and not a gal or a guy.

The concept of macho stuff is incorporated into mind sets of people and it is not natural about human species.

3:17 pm  
Blogger m. said...

rabin: yup. thorough patriarchal conditioning.

senthil: you know, i kept wondering when i read biggles, why the hell the machine was called a fokker!same source as fokken i guess : thanks, that was a new one.
but you know, science is thoroughly patriarchal as well. i wouldnt accept its dictates unquestioningly.
for eg, we no longer push our faces into meat still dripping blood to feed. we state without blinking that we have evolved... grown past such "animal" behaviour.
but notice, when its sex, there seems to be all kinds of readymade excuses: "oh thats a primal instinct", "its a biological impulse". so was smelling the ass before mating - we dont stick to it. so was being turned on by menstrual blood (a sign of the female being in heat)- now we isolate females who are menstruating.
also, primates dont gang rape a female of their species. they dont watch a mating for cheap kicks. some things are purely (sub)human behaviour.

anon: you said it yourself -
"the person who has committed the mistake should be punished". i dont want to insult your intelligence by explaining just how far that expectation is from being fulfilled. sure, it would be nice if things were that way, but sadly, they are not.

5:26 pm  
Blogger Wrong number said...

Consider your point made m. You've explored the relation. ofcourse, you've neglected the possibility that pain can be sexually arousing. I'm not talking about women here. As a guy who has broken his bones 7 different times, I understand physical pain and violence. And I'm not being a deviant: most men link pain inflicted on them with sexual arousal. I ts unfair and inaccurate to delink sex from violence. They are interconnected. and not just socially or historically. They are connected biologically.
Ofcourse your main issue - the fact that this concept translates mostly to one-way traffic in a patriarchial society - is very accurate and very deplorable.
I just wanted to tell you the first time around, that you were fighting two different ideas.
1. Sex is linked with violence.
2. This usualy hurts women more than men.
It just happens that a male-centric culture is responsible for the second of these, not the first.

It helps if you know what you are arguing... You could take on point 2 and blast away, and you'd win...
Try taking on point 1, and you'll lose, young lady!


10:52 pm  
Blogger Maya Cassis said...

that cafechino ad really sucks

1:49 am  
Blogger m. said...

saale: no, didnt forget about masochism. its something ive repeatedly had to explain a stance against from counselling days. huge issue in itself, so id like to explore it seperately maybe some other time.

as for violence being arousing, it has been said so many times before, im currently too lazy to write about it again! :D if youre interested, simone de beauvoir, germaine greer and andrea dworkin have written some very interesting stuff.

finally, issue 1 is closely linked to issue 2. and no, i dont think theres any win or lose about this - or at least, i dont attach value to it in this context.

maya: yup.

7:33 pm  
Blogger Ch@ry said...

i totally agree - it's a cheap, tasteless ad. what were those girls (or that guy) thinking? are they advertising for porn? what's with the 'kinky' comment by kareena at the end?

and hang all rapists!

2:56 am  
Blogger m. said...

chary: sometimes hanging is too decent an option

8:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what are these School Intervention programs M.
I'd be interested in sumpin like that !


10:44 am  
Blogger m. said...

anon1: when i shot a hippo on the banks of the Nile in 1930... hehe! those programs were just something i did in the middle of my mucking around :)

2:38 am  

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