A Letter to the Moral Police in Kolkata, from a protester
Dear moral police,
I imagine you now, sitting at your laptop, hunched over the screen as you read this. You are either
a) wondering what “moral police” means
or, b) know that this is for you.
If a), “moral policing” is a term which originated in Indian English. It refers to those who seek to enforce a code of morality through slut-shaming, propagation of rape culture, and even violence. I’m not sure what you mean by “a code of morality”. Does it mean doing what is “good” and shunning the “bad”? If so, how do you define “bad” and distinguish it from “good”? I’m guessing you have textbooks you refer to, or resort to religion, that probably opposes vulgarity. Vulgarity is defined by you, as display that is offensive. The actions you label vulgar are therefore, condemned by you, and you work actively based on this mysterious “code” to enforce it, resorting to any means necessary to this effect, ranging from violence, torture, rape, to bullying, objectification and slut-shaming.
My objective in writing this, is not to ponder over your methods, but to refer to and critically analyse one specific act you oppose- kissing in public. Kissing is public, as you have been telling us often enough, is nongra (dirty). You condemn it. I have been trying to understand how you came to the conclusion that it is nongra, so I have attempted to come to a logical premise.
Observation : The only public kisses that are nongra are the ones you hear the eve-teasers blowing at you, right before they scan you like you’re naked. Or the ones that are non-consensual, forced upon you as if you were meat meant to be devoured, by a molestor on the road. Note, that I am only trying to list the “public kisses” in India, and the reason none of those are public kisses of couples in love is because they are afraid of the same moral “code of conduct” that you have propagated. Therefore:
1. Since these are the kisses that predominate, in every patriarchal society based on objectification of women, we have been conditioned to relate nongra with the act of kissing in public itself.
2.Thus, all kissing in public is now recognized as nongra.
A) You have engaged in eve-teasing or molestation, and know what they stand for
Or, B) You have been objectified by eve-teasers or been molested
Therefore, you are using morality to either, cover it up, or, are too disgraced to have withstood such behaviour passively. In both situations, you are an oppressor, whether by directly engaging in it, or passively ignoring it.
However, I would like to believe that you are perhaps aware of this chain of cause and effect. Consequently, you are trying vehemently to deny that you are victim of the patriarchy. And how best to alter the power dynamics of pathology, than to invert it? You use moral policing to oppress others, when in fact, you are repressing your own trauma of being oppressed.
Now, keep in mind that in the above scenario, I have simply attempted to re-create the logical sequence of events that could have led to the backlash against the Kiss of Love protests. Because the very attack that a “Kiss of Love” is vulgar, leads me to believe that the only kisses of love you have ever got in public, have been the ones where you have been made to feel like a box in a supermarket, up for display on a rack to be sold.
It saddens me to realise that you have probably never known enough affection to be unafraid to show it, and it shocks me that you hide your affection behind closed doors, while you mete out your violence on the streets. I do not understand your definition of “vulgar”, but I find it vulgar when couples are beaten up for loving eachother, while rapists roam free in the streets. Moreover, your ignorance about rape culture appalls me; I cannot imagine how you can connect an act as brutal as rape with anything but power. Rape is about power, not sex. Sex does not cause rape, rapists do. If you have not yet recognized that, you have probably never had good sex in your life, or have been subjected to non-consensual sex always.
Another one of your pet accusations have been culture crticism- “kissing in public is against our culture”. Culture has always portrayed the evolution of modes of expression, such as affection. I refer you therefore, to Hampi, a World Heritage Site- a remainder of the splendour of the Vijaynagar empire of the period (1336 – 1565CE). The sculptures show men and women engaging in, what you would call, vulgar public displays of affection. Now, I would like you to listen to the following song,Mooh Main Le, a product of the same culture that you seem to be defending: [youtube.com](http://www.donotlink.com/cee5)
Since I deem you with sufficient intelligence to understand my argument, I urge you re-consider your definitions of “culture” and “vulgar”, and perhaps re-think which side you want to be on: the Oppressor, or the Uprising of the Oppressed.
In conclusion, I’d like to draw your attention to the common theme behind the nature of “moral policing” and vulgarity, which you may have missed. I’ll do you a favour and spell it out for you. P-A-T-R-I-A-R-C-H-Y.
Photo: Ronny Sen