When porn becomes the norm…

Thursday, 29 July 2010 00:36 by salim

“….The Stepford Wife image that drove previous generations of women crazy with their sparkling floors and perfectly orchestrated meals has all but disappeared, and in its place we now have the Stepford Slut; a hypersexualized, young, thin, toned, hairless, technologically, and in many cases surgically-enhanced, woman with a come-hither look on her face”

says Gail Dine in her new book Pornland: How porn has hijacked our sexuality.

I have not read the book, but only one chapter published here.

Like any other man, I like my porn, though I do not have a stash of porn magazines (or mpegs) that my best friend will come and delete in case of my demise (means, my stash is not a secret, not that I do not have a stash :)) But, as a person who tries to live a fair life, there are many things that bugs me about the porn industry. So, I make it a point to read anything that comes through my feed that talks about this subject. Recently, while reading about the issue of Sexigate, I stumbled up on quite a few feminist blogs and aggregators, and in the last few days, porn has become the issue of discussion of at least 3 posts.

The fact of exploitation of women in porn industry is a major issue, especially in less developed countries (or women trafficked from poor countries). I have recently read some articles that discusses another angle of the porn industry that is not necessarily exploitative, at least not to the females participants in its production. There has been some studies that struggle to prove that exposure to porn increases sexual violence.

What Gale Dine discusses in this article is a much more widespread effect of porn in our culture. This is not just from the traditional porn media (playboy, internet porn…). The “hypersexualized” image is crowding our media space as a constant stream of soft-core porn!

There was a time, especially in India, when the left was arguing for the recognition of female sexuality, as different from the traditional view of a tool for male comfort and convenience and progeny. It is interesting to see how this has morphed into yet another way of keeping the status quo.

Curious are the ways of the world…

I am waiting for the book to come out in some form of E-version.

A small incident in science and feminism

Monday, 19 July 2010 22:46 by salim

A few days ago, a self proclaimed atheist writing a self professed atheist blog (whose link is purposefully excluded from this post) came out with a list of 15 sexiest scientists.

He probably wanted to have a fleeting fame. Apparently he actively sought opinions from the people on the list, asking them, are you offended!

Since I am an uptight nerd, i will not be using nor repeating any of the right adjectives given to this person. However, I will list a bunch of posts that looks at it from a larger perspective of feminism.

I want to comment on two specific things. Over at rambling perfectionist, this guy laments that according to the “feminists” there is no way one can escape the sexist label. My answer to that kind of argument is that, men are by default, sexists and it takes a lot of effort to be not one.

The other is about feeling sexual desirability at the sight of a woman.

There are several occasions when I felt uneasy because the person I am professionally interacting with is perceived by me as sexually attractive. I do not know if female professionals feel that way or feel it as frequently as I do.

Someone in these posts talk about silencing as an intentional failure to recognize the communicators intent. It is very natural for men to do. The history and the reinforcement of status quo by media constantly works to reinforce this tendency. The result, most men cannot imagine why a woman should refuse sexual advances!

One of the aspects discussed in these posts is about how female scientists should dress. It was funny that we have to discuss “how to dress properly to work” at scienceblogs! I was surprised to see many women have a “practical” approach in the sense that, they chose casual, mostly gender neutral (jeans and shirt, jacket) attire so as not to cause an additional issue to handle at work. Which sadly is true, as I stated above, I might find someone sexually attractive if they come in enhancing their sexual desirability. So, it is easier for me to support the idea of “dressing properly” for work and dress to your fill during weekend days away from work. But, that is just reinforcing the patterns.

As a man, I have absolutely no say in this regard. But, there is something I can do about it. That is to reinforce the fact that, all women are sexually uninterested in me unless otherwise they explicitly states it in no unclear terms! Most of the time I will require signed documentation, but during the lean days, just a polite “would you like to have intercourse with me?” would suffice.

Here are the posts I found interesting in this debate.

  1. Sheril Kirshenbaum
  2. SeXy Science- You’re Doing It Wrong by rocketscientista
  3. Because You Think Being A Girl Is Degrading by Nerdista
  4. Sexism and Objectification by ramblingperfectionist 
  5. I have been objectified! by PZ Myers
  6. If You Think I’m Sexy And You Like My Data by SheThought.com
  7. Hot Scientist Babes Gate by Physioprof
  8. Save us from the armchair philosopher with a blog. by Janet D. Stemwedel
  9. Top 15 science hotties and labia-punching by Evil Monkey
  10. Sex(ism) in Science by AmoebaMike

Gaao Gunkali

Saturday, 17 July 2010 00:38 by salim

In the summers of my college days, my main entertainment during the days was to listen to lots and lots of music. I was just getting into a fuller appreciation of music, both in its breadth and depth.

Though I started serious music listening exclusively with Karnatic Music, I soon discovered Hindustani and Western Classical music. This was both bewildering and amazing at the same time. Being also a student of music, I always tried to find out the secret behind the song, go beyond the surface veil of beauty and emotion… a little like opening up that radio (and getting a serious scolding from my father) to find out if there is really someone in there. (The old valves looked like small people though).

It was around this time I got an album by Bhimsen Joshi. The main composition was Alaap, and two Kayals – He Kartar and Gaao Gunkali in Raaga Gunkali. It immediately caught my attention. The first thing I noticed was the structural relation to Bhoopalam, which was the first raaga I learned to play in my flute. (Yes, I know, so cheasy!).  

It just revealed to me, without any effort from myself. All the punctuated beauty of a minor pentatonic scale. I still remember the strong, commanding voice of  Bhimsen Joshi exploring the universe with me on Gunkali (hmm, may be I was a little bit stoned!)

Today was my monthly E-Music download day. The first album I downloaded was Jeevan by Ajoy Chakroborthy. A wonderful double album, 110 mins of pure bliss. The first four tracks is a beautiful rendition of Gunkali. And he sings the same exact Khayals – He Kartar and Gao Gunkali.

I always thought that, I will never be satisfied by another rendition of these Khayals other than Bhimsenji’s. But, I was so wrong. Ajoy gives a completely different side of Gunkali.

In a very long alaap (20 mins) he shows us a complete landscape of possibilities in 5 notes.

In the second part comes an even greater treasure. A whole 32 mins of Kaisee bajayeeri shyam, Bansuria. Again, this was the Bhajan that made me an absolute fan of Ajoy Chakroborty. But, that was a smaller version (around 10 mins). Very voluptuous, yes, that is a very good quality for Bhariavi. Like a Raphael painting.

Now, I am going to shut up and listen to it…

Get the album. Get stoned and listen to it, the whole of it, in one sitting. I guarantee you, that would be one of the most fruitful 2 hours of your life.

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