This is Gaysi’s response to CK Aravind’s enlightening article on living in.
Often, when these live-ins come apart, they could scar either the man or woman for life. Pre-marital sex too is alien to our culture, though surveys often reveal that Indian teenagers are no whit behind their western counterparts when it comes to indulging in it.
Dear Aravind, I went through your article for a smidgeon of statistics that would support your claim about emotional scarring. How is this scarring any worse than the bitter acrimony resulting from a divorce or the end of a long relationship? Heartbreak is heartbreak, whether you live together or apart.
Indian society, by and large, continues to frown upon both pre-marital sex and live-in relationships to an extent that those who indulge in either are even ostracised by society. In the West, where teenage pregnancies are common and where couples walk in and out of relationships with consummate ease and with hardly any passion or affection characterising these relationships, such issues raise no social storms or hackles.
Indian society frowns upon a lot of things including but not limited to pre-marital sex, live-in relationships, homosexuality, stay-at-home fathers etc. Everything that the Indian culture disapproves of, is subject to ridicule and ostracism. While the Wild Wild West may see teenage pregnancies, I am yet to see any proof indicating relationships are devoid or affection or passion. You only say that because it sets the stage for your grandiose prose about Indian values and morality. While this is completely unrelated, you might want to consider that in the West, female foeticide and dowry deaths are alien cultures. These issues prevalent in India sadly raise no social storms and shackles. Now that’s something you might want to wear as a badge of honor.
Such liaisons are presumed to be unholy for marriage is still held sacrosanct and cohabitation is a natural corollary of wedlock. Entering into a bond where there are no vows or values is something that cannot be endorsed, for these are relationships of convenience; where each partner is willing to participate in an experiment with the clear understanding that either could walk out of the house with no questions asked.
I forget the part where The Hindu stopped being a newspaper and decided to take it upon itself to give us lessons on Morality. If you’re looking for battles to wage, I can give you plenty. Wage one against Maoism. Wage one against racism. Wage another against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Relationships, may it be of convenience or love, is still a very personal issue and should not be subject to your own contrived sense of moral judgment.
One could well ask what sanctity is there in such live-ins and why a romantically involved couple (that is the general presumption) is not inclined to follow the social tenets and seal their love with the stamp of marriage.
Yes, you could and the answer to that is simpler than you’d imagine. When you get married in India, it’s rarely a quiet affair. The Grand Indian Wedding with all the shebang and noise makes it a spectacular event to remember. Unfortunately the pitfall to that is a divorce is just as public and very humiliating. This may come as a surprise to you, but to love someone does not mean you make good housemates. Living together is a whole other game as married couples would be more than happy to tell you about. Once the initial pink loving haze that blinds the partners to each other’s faults have faded, those little quirks you found innocuous and cute even, becomes annoying and game-changers. Has it occurred to you that just maybe, these couples who choose to live-in probably value marriage too much to jump into it without testing waters, first?
Awareness has to be created in these young minds that pre-marital sex could be extremely dangerous not just from the point of unwanted pregnancies but also from the fact that either partner could contact sexually transmitted diseases. The proliferation of the internet, chat rooms and reality TV is exercising a corrupting influence on school and college students, who reach the alarming conclusion that all this is no big deal and that pre-marital sex too is part of growing up.
Here’s a nugget for you. The more you repress teenagers, the more rebellious you get. Instead of teaching children about how sex is a big bad taboo, how about teaching them the importance of fidelity? Teach them that talking about sex is not bad and condoms save lives. Teach them that caste is an insignificant shameful part of our past and that it should mean nothing. Teach them to respect women from a young age, so they never stand by to watch a woman being eve teased. Teach them that violence never solved anything. Teach them that homosexuality is nothing to be afraid of or ridicule. Teach them that being a doctor or engineer isn’t everything. Teach them road etiquette. Teach them to vote. Teach them to value the environment.
These lessons are far more valuable than “Sex-before-marriage-chi-chi”