Friday, September 22, 2006

Bye! Bye! Ms Bi

The feminists in India are doing it again!

Starting September 9th upto 12th September, 2006, the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata is going to witness the National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements in India . The critical day for me is the 10th September, the day marked out for women with alternate sexual preferences. Films, video, discussions, debates will walk hand in hand with art, literature, poetry, music throughout the day and night. Be yourself. Go and present what you have contributed to this field. Or just participate. Kolkata is getting ready and opening itself up to something new - providing a platform for discussions and debates on alternate sexuality. So is Kolkata prepared for it? Our Bengali babu has a feudal background. He is dominating and likes to believe that he is the custodian of the Bengali community’s’ value system. He is a bhadrolok. He cannot be open to such obscene discussions on sex and sexuality. In fact he would like to know what one has done with such base energies? Instead please tell him, he says, how you have mustered those desires and transformed them to higher intellectual pursuits. - Art, literature, poetry, drama, films? Expect him, therefore, to rave and rant and perhaps go to the extent of lathi charge and stone pelting to muffle the voices of the yet, under-privileged! He is going to say that these women have lost their lajja ( shame) and are behaving like prostitutes. When it comes to caustic remarks, our Bengali babu cares not for politically correct language. He wishes to sting and he does it well.

So in such an environment, the poor bisexual women are wondering what they are going to do. Who is going to hear their small and innocuous voice? Never mind the fact that although they are unrecognized, it is believed that they outnumber the gay and lesbian community. There also are a good number of them living in the heterosexual community. They have been making placards saying – " Bisexual women in India. Recognize the Grey Zone." As such, bisexuality is not an unheard of word nor is it something no body has discussed before. However, they feel they are the least understood. And in the present context, when everyone is defining who they are, - gay, lesbian, or whatever, the bisexuals feel they are being marginalized.

Still others ask, who in the Sam-Holy- Hill is a bisexual? In simple terms, a bisexual is one who is attracted to both genders, emotionally and sexually. If one is a lesbian, gay or someone belonging to any other existing or emerging sexuality, one might not find acceptance in society at large but at least one is known to be existing. If you are a heterosexual, then of course you are God’s own creation and the Gods will kiss the ground on which you walk. You contribute to the growing numbers of humankind, just by your act of sexual pleasure (hopefully!) you produce results in tangible terms. Therefore, may your flock increase. Forget for the moment, rape, incest and horrors of child sexual abuse.

But a bisexual? Dammit! Who the hell are they to ask for their place under the sun? But a bisexual will tell you they do need their place under the sun or they are being considered the 21st Century socio-sexual outcast. The reason? They are drawn to both sexes, and are comfortable to relate sexually and emotionally to both genders. In fact, they are the ones who feel the compelling need to interact at a very deep level with both genders. In fact often, being with one gender, they feel the need to be with the other as well. Ask any confirmed and comfortable with their sexuality, bisexual man or woman and they will tell you their truth – they long for both.
So are they a confused lot? Or are they escapists? Or they just don’t want to make any commitments? Or the worst! Seekers of joy of both the worlds?

I will take the last, first. Yes, they say they are comfortable and love to delight in both the worlds but not because they want it like that but because their very nature drives them to both. Here in this space, the pain and the pleasure co-exist and the desire to relate to a man at some times and a woman at other times, emotionally and sexually, are needs that come up ever so often. Sometimes, at different times and sometimes all at the same time. Then are they escapists, running hither and thither drinking out of a cup of emotional and sexual concoction all over the place and not facing the reality staring in their face - commitment to one is the key to lasting and emotionally rewarding relationships. Are they afraid to make a commitment?

This brings us to a larger question, what is a commitment? In my understanding, a commitment means, willingness to go out and pledge ones love to another and make a promise that one will be with the other through thick and thin, in all the days of their lives. Dedicated and always there. And already I have a problem there. To me it sounds like a marriage, an institution, a module I must fit into may be even if I have to sacrifice and compromise my originality. Therefore for me commitment is of the heart and not of the mind. Others may think differently. In such an environment, an honest bisexual may run the risk of being annihilated as far as their driving desire to be with both genders is concerned. And this poses a grave danger. The denied emotions will sit there in hiding and fester, causing in the long run a whole lot of physical and emotional problems to self and others around.

What drives a human being to form relationships with persons outside themselves? It is their need to share, to give and to receive. It means that they need to nurture and be nurtured in return. At a deeper level, it is to find an expression to their creativity. Is one person enough to get all these needs fulfilled at all times and whenever the need arises? Is there a surety in having our demands met everytime they arise? In other words, will the demand and supply curve intersect – Everytime? Over time? Over years on end?

So on to the last and final point – a bisexual longs for both. In that way they seem to be in a better position since they willingly want to be with both sexes, it is more likely that their needs will be fulfilled. At most times. BUT! Since they long to give expression to both sides of their emotional and sexual selves, without really making a commitment to any, lesbians and gay community demand that bisexuals stop sitting on the fence or face the consequences! No body is ready to dabble and give them a wee bit of love and care because they accuse them of moving around in circles that are taboo to lesbians – being with heterosexual men and women. Most men who are with bisexual woman, say, if their woman wants to be with another women as well, well it doesn’t matter. Anyway what can two women do together? They don’t have what it takes! Or they say, if the other woman has to be there, then she has to be included in their already existing relationship. In other words, make it a threesome. Sic!

So in all ways, bisexuals are damned! They are threatened by all. They know the agony and the ecstasy only too well to commit to either. And this has contributed largely to their sitting on the fence!

Evenso, bisexuals in India, say they they are sexually empowered human beings. How, may we ask can they claim such self-proclaimed honour? They say, a bisexual woman or man is comfortable with their own bodies - sexual and emotional bodies. They admit and accept they are different. They say that in them, the male and female energies, the purusha and prakriti, the yin and yang, flow without conflicting with each other. They are balanced and do not try to over rule each other. They proclaim, they are not afraid of loving. They are not intimidated when a man or woman approaches them with love or passionate desire. They are comfortable, open and responsive. They say they are empowered human beings because, although there may be a number of factors that contribute to the making of an empowered person, but one of the most crucial is being comfortable with ones own body, emotions, sexual self and emotional self. They argue, it is impossible to be empowered or even to claim that one is, if one is not at ease with oneself and one’s sexual being. Point to be noted! They claim that they can handle both. In a nutshell, they have a holistic attitude towards their bodies, physical and emotional.
It all begins at home, they say. A man or a woman empowered within exudes and projects a different self to the outside world. You cannot miss an empowered person. They are brave and fearless. Empowerment is often so dependent on what we think of ourselves – our emotional and sexual selves. A person, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or belonging to any existing and emerging sexuality can hardly be an empowered person, when down at the basics they are uncomfortable about who they are.

So in the light of the above what should be the space allotted to the bisexuals? These are the people who are in the areas of grey and feeling left out in the cold. Unless we only understand black and white, and do not want to challenge ourselves about our fixed thoughts and belief systems around our sisters and brothers, they will continue to blame us for not giving them their due place and denying them the human right to be different.
But tarry! What is our Bengali dada going to say to this? " No," he will say raising his already hyper and angry voice,

" Vhat! Who are you? Vhy are you sitting heaaar with your card?"

He will then put on his large black framed spectacle and peep at their placard with distaste staring out of his face
" Bisexual? Vhat is that? Aiy! You pick your bag and go…anywhere else! Not heaaar in our sonar Bangla. Ve do not have such shameless weemen and garls!. Bye! Bye! Meeees Bi!"

Psssst: I have asked them not to lose heart. Don’t give up the fight. Take on a strong voice to fight your cause. Someone who can put your plight on Television. And who may I ask that might be? Sagarika Ghosh of course! Sagarika who? Sagarika, the most revolutionary icon of Bengali mental brain and brawn – none other than the inspiring anchor person of India 360 showing on CNN-IBN at 8.30 primetime across India. And of course they must not forget me, their most active crusader. Together, we can make it happen. We can show him nicely, our custodian of Bengali cultural values, our well meaning but obsolete Bengali babu, our bhadrolok, how he has to change with times.
Join me in the fight for our rights. Write in to: Or just comment!

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