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NANDITA BHATTACHARYA

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 4/15/2017 |




SONGSOPTOK: Is the subject of sex taboo in your own personal family and friends circle? Do you talk freely about sex with your partner / children / friends? If no, why? If yes, what exactly do you talk about? Take this as an academic exercise, and do explain.

NANDITA:  In my family the subject of sex is not taboo altogether, but in my childhood my parents gave me a rationalised explanation as much they could according to my age and requirements. At present in my friends circle it is not at all a taboo but dealt normally without any inhibitions. I do talk freely about sex with my partner and children as well as I have learnt from my parents. With my partner I can express my discomfort or likings freely which is understood adequately and we don't have anything to hide from each other and are quite comfortable.  With my child, during his growing years, I made it a point to be open minded so that he gets the correct information and explanation. I never marked the issue as something prohibited. My child also felt free to ask questions as and when he had his curiosities. I have also tried to explain being close to the truth so that he is satisfied with my answers.


SONGSOPTOK: In the society you live in, is the subject of sex a taboo? If yes, how do you explain it? Is it because of the religion that is practiced in your country? Or is because of your culture, or even the beliefs of the political parties in power?

NANDITA:  In my society, the subject is not a taboo but it also not discussed openly and widely. It depends on the mindset of the people and perception also. I don't think religion has anything to do with the issue.As I have already told that it depends on the perception and mindset of the people.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that the society today is more permissive compared to the time you were growing up? Do you think it is a good thing? Please let us have your detailed opinion.

NANDITA:  Yes, of course, the present society is more permissive than the one where we were brought up. It is definitely a good approach but again it has certain demerits which needs to be addressed. In an open society, children can mix up openly and without developing any complex about their male/female counterparts. They come to understand that the difference between male and female is only biological. But again this has certain limitations. Both girls and boys need to be brought up as good human beings. Certain values like respect, honour, equality, empathy should be inculcated in them. These are the basic virtues which binds the society and shall help the future generation to develop good human values. Mixing should be free but not without respect. Friendship should be an out and out equal relationship. Children should be made aware of their equal rights.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that a permissive society is dangerous for teenagers, both girls and boys? Or is it on the contrary a good thing since it demystifies sexual acts and makes them look at it as something mundane and normal? Is that a good or a bad thing?

NANDITA: If the teenage girls and boys have proper parenting and develop certain disciplines, in their growing years, it becomes easier for them to draw the line. In that case, they should have enough access with their parents so that they can share their psychological changes with them. Parents are always the best guides. Even in a permissive society, parents can guide their children to act wisely and balance between the good or bad.


SONGSOPTOK: History tells us that sex was not taboo in ancient societies. What, in your opinion, is the genesis of this attitude? Do you think that the rise of patriarchal societies all over the world is the main reason, where man gradually started looking upon the woman as his own property? Or is it mainly religious, where woman was treated as the root of all evils?

NANDITA: History tells us that sex was not a taboo in the ancient society. Both women and men were free to choose their partners. But the rise of the patriarchal society dominated women and dictated their activities. Superstitions, rather than religion, played the determining role which forced women to succumb to a male dominated society. Lack of proper education also added to the cause. Thus gradually male started dominating the society.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you believe sexual attitudes and acts to be normal like all other bodily functions or do you think that there is a special significance to sexual acts? In other words, do sexual acts need to be couched in special sentiments and sanctified by the institution of marriage? What is your own experience? What is the experience of people close to you?

NANDITA: Theoretically, it should be like any other body functions. But practically it depends upon the mood of the person and mental attachment with the partner. But I don't think this has to be sanctified by the institution of marriage. Marriage doesn't give right to a person to use his/ her spouse's body without permission. I know many people around who have overcome this concept of marriage and they quite enjoy their freedom.Personally, till date, I didn't feel the need to step outside my marriage.


SONGSOPTOK: In your opinion, does the taboo about sex give rise to repressive societies where men and women feel obliged to curb their natural instincts and take recourse to abuse, rape or incest?

NANDITA: The taboo about sex restrict people from proper understanding of the issue and they develop certain misconceptions. Without proper guidance they lack adequate feeling as a human being. This in turn endangers the society and people take recourse to rape, abuse and incest.  Media also plays a very negative role here by constantly harping on the issue. Remake of certain virulent cases and airing them is one of the most negativity played by the mass media which sensitises people. Many instances can be cited where the culprits have admitted it.


SONGSOPTOK: This brings us to the issue of violence against women in different societies, where women and girls are abused and raped on a regular basis by members of their own families. Do you think that the taboo about sex is the main reason for such behavior? Would a change in attitudes actually make a difference to the position of women in such societies?

NANDITA: Yes, it is. Taboo about sex makes the things worse and people tend to behave strangely towards something which is supposedly prohibited. Should there be proper education and guidance, for both men and women, the society would be a healthy place where there will be equality for all.


SONGSOPTOK: Have media in general and Internet in particular played a role in either enhancing or diminishing the taboo about sex? In what way?

NANDITA: Media and internet definitely have played their role in diminishing the taboo but in a negative way. If these devices could be used more constructively, the society would be a better place for the present generation. They can be used for educating young people thereby eradicating all misconceptions and establishing equality , sense of respect.


SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that ultimately sex is all about power and domination, both for men and women? Why? What is your personal experience?

NANDITA: Not always. It again depends on the perception of one individual. Ideally it should be the ultimate bondage between two human beings who depend both mentally and physically upon each other. It should not be something which symbolises power. With proper education and understanding, this could be achieved and which is not at all difficult. This is my personal opinion.


NANDITA BHATTACHARYA: A teacher at Patha Bhavan school, Kolkata. She did her Master's from Jadavpur University in Comparative Literature. She is interested in reading anything and everything and sometimes she  does scribble her own thoughts.



We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen
(EDITOR)

 Songsoptok

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