Dear Sonal Vengurlekar,
I chanced upon your open letter to Shonali Bose and it’s quite obvious to me that you really didn’t understand the film! The point of Margarita With A Straw was to discuss the fact that people with disabilities too have sexual desires just like you, and me, or even your friendly neighbourhood gay! Shonali Bose set out to address exactly that! She at no point attempted to make an hour long discovery channel special on Cerebral Palsy (CP) to educate the masses at large! But clearly you missed all of that! A simple Google search will lead you to the articles about numerous individuals with CP, very clearly addressing their sexual desires.
You make a sweeping generalisation that “for a disabled person, sex is the last thing on their mind.” Now does this include ALL disabled people; ALL over the world? By your argument neither Khanum, nor any blind person should be allowed to have sexual needs and urges! For all intents and purposes, all disabled people are asexual! I wonder if that means should something happen to me and I become disabled, let’s say I lose my leg or so, will I also lose my sexual desires at the exact same moment? Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?
The argument of this film was not to highlight the obstacles that people with a disability suffer from. It infact, very sensitively picks up an issue which people do not want to address. It is in fact a misconception to not talk about sex vis-à-vis disability.
More importantly, one wonders who made you the spokesperson for people with Cerebral Palsy! Just by being acquainted with one or two people with the disability doesn’t make one an expert on the subject. To be outright blunt, it seems to me you are a person who is uncomfortable talking about sex. I see nothing wrong with that. If you are not comfortable, then don’t talk about it. But it doesn’t mean that others have to stop too! Talk about sex is healthy! It’s intriguing, engaging, exciting, educating and more than anything it’s 1.9 billion times more important to talk about than to avoid it!
Reading your letter again tells me that we really need to re-examine the present cultural values that our dominant stories propagate for some of them continue to suppress issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and other human development potentials. (No wonder, India still continues to uphold the regressive IPC Section 377, denying the second largest minority of the country – LGBTQ – it’ s basic human rights!)
To say the least, Shonali’s film is a confrontation with set and unconscious patterns deeply embedded throughout our patriarchal heritage and the notions so propagated – of human behaviour with disabilities, exploring one’s sexuality, looking at the concept of normality.
Don’t you think that such questions are so critical for the formation of one’s ‘Self’ and ‘Identity’? I say, watch the film again and look at the possibility of a better future sans the differences!
And last but not the least, why are you dragging Aamir Khan into this! Just cause he made Taare Zameen Paar and Satyamev Jayate doesn’t make him the expert on all disabilities and related subjects! And personally, if Shonali really wanted advice she should have seeked it from Oprah. She is after all the master guru on EVERYTHING.