‘Taboo’ is defined as ‘an unannounced general agreement of not doing or not talking about something’, and here in our revered motherland, taboos abound in both the most lucrative of metropolises and the scantiest of hamlets with almost the same vigour. The mere fact that such unwritten rules are followed by quite a considerable proportion of the two or so billion strong population of a country where even the maiden name of one’s prospective bride’s maternal grandmother provokes scenes of epic disagreement speaks volumes of the unity of its people in following laws unauthorised rather than those prescribed in the lengthiest constitution of the world. Nevertheless, one should consider oneself to be fortunate enough for having the privilege of living in a thriving 70 years young democracy wherein one could uphold one’s views regarding almost anything and everything, be indifferent to those views which contradict his own and at the same time hope that the transactions therein and thereafter are but peaceful. Thus, with the same privilege and hope, it is high time Sex Education, another taboo, was brought to the forefront.
S, E, X – SEX is a word which when spoken aloud in biology classes is met with at least one giggle and when spoken aloud at some other public gathering raises at least one eyebrow; EDUCATION is yet another word in the English Dictionary which more often than not evokes images of ‘innocent little boys reading in a clearing with some sage’s hermitage in the background’ in the mind of any other Orthodox Indian and thus, naturally, for the Orthodox Indian, the two words do not quite complement each other readily.
The Orthodox Indian often tends to incorrectly infer the literal meaning of the term ‘Sex Education’ but as a matter of fact, the subject matter is far astray. ‘Sex Education’ rather than dealing profusely with the mechanisms of sex, deals with the more subtle ethical, medical and social aspects of sex at length. Yes, of course, it is a study wherein the process of having sex is presented with the facts rather than the ‘bees and birds’ approach or any other glorification or defamation; it has to be. However, it’s definitely miles away from being a modern ‘Kama Sutra’. More importantly, it is a study of the after effects of sex on human health, and more-so on the mental framework of the individuals concerned, the general attitude of the society, and the ethics related to sexual activity. The subject matter is as diverse as India itself and at such is best left for an acclaimed academician to ramble upon; the only direction in which this nincompoop of a writer tries to venture through this waste of words is but in illuminating the reader of the contradicting views of the Rational and the Orthodox Indian on Sex Education.
Now, if one Rational Indian sets on the task of writing a thesis on the more common news reports, he obviously would have to expend a lot of his valuable time on a crime called ‘rape’; for ‘rape’ albeit being one of the most heinous of crimes ever conceived by the doomed mankind, is unfortunately one of the more common. As he would dive deeper into the sea of such reports, he would be thoroughly disgusted to find many a halfwit commenting, ‘…women should enjoy rape, if they can’t stop it…’, ‘…short skirts and chow mien provoke rape…’, and such other idiocy. In very rare instances, his faith in humanity would also be meekly restored as logical comments such as ‘…don’t teach girls not to go out at night but teach boys not to rape…’ and ‘…start with the boys…’ would begin to surface at some odd hour. Of course, the logical solution to stop sexual crimes against women is by starting with the men and yet the million dollar question remains to be the ‘how’. Not a single soul is certain of the exact answer but most rational beings would converge on the fact of ‘Sex Education’ being pivotal in this search for this elusive answer.
The aim of Sex Education apart from answering inquisitive questions regarding sexuality, safe sex, STDs and reproductive health is to but foster a sound and rational approach towards sex in the minds of young children. The inherent belief is that as the children are better informed about sex rather than having to deduce the implications from their little fantasies or some unworthy agencies, they will be equipped with a stronger will-force in scenarios when controlling their urges is the thin line between a carousel and a crime. The study will enlighten them that the urges are perfectly normal for any healthy individual and will acquaint them of ways to deal with those urges in some perfectly normal and healthy way in accordance with the norms of the society. This sane belief is the foundation of all the leanings of the Rational Indian towards Sex Education. The Orthodox Indian, however, holds views to the contrary.
The Orthodox Indian believes that as young children are better informed, it would lead to unprecedented growth in both underage sexual activity and, sooner or later, sexual crimes. Such are his beliefs, the Orthodox Indian argues against Sex Education adopting several ways in his pursuit. One of the more famous ways in which the Orthodox Indian tries to challenge Sex Education is by accepting that Sex Education is a substantial subject but goes on to remind the Rational Indian that as sexual content in the form of novels, films, etc is only permitted after the attainment of adulthood, and then asks a well-crafted question as to why should Sex Education be permitted at school level to the underage. The Rational Indian, however, dismisses the crafted query by speaking of no universal medium being available for imparting Sex Education after the attainment of adulthood as, though meagre in numbers, some proportion of students always drops out of educational institutions at adulthood. Moreover, the Rational Indian counters the validation regarding censorship by firstly agreeing that as young children have impressionable minds, the explicit sexual content in popular media which seldom does not glorify sex could have a devastating impact on them but then goes on to debate that Sex Education neither glorifies nor defames sex and treats sex just as History treats the gruesome world wars; academically or bookishly. The rational Indian opines that since the bookish treatment of such bloody wars has not posed any problem neither shall the bookish treatment of sex pose any.
The Rational Indian being rational counters almost every stone hurled at his unflinching support of Sex Education. Consequently, faced with such a predicament, the Orthodox Indian then uses his famed weapon of labelling anything that he doesn’t support as ‘against the great Indian Culture’ as the final resort. The Rational Indian snidely remarks that in making such a statement, the Orthodox Indian surely must not be aware of the open secret of the modern Indian Culture wherein as the Orthodox Indian continues to oppose Sex Education in schools, school-goers have already had their first brush with carnal knowledge through ‘illegal’ pornographic videos, A-rated films and books in this era of Information Technology; and at the same time, also forgetful of the fact that the ‘Kama Sutra’ is very much an indelible part of the great Indian Art & Culture. The Rational Indian further adds that if the Orthodox Indian is honestly unaware of such an open secret and oblivious of such a trivial fact, then there’s no fault in him commenting such but if he’s not, then the inherent hypocrisy is too profound to be ignored.
All in all, summing up this soon to be forgotten piece of writing, the Orthodox Indian is presented with two action plans regarding the taboo – one, to let the things be just the way they are and young impressionable kids be handed misguided information concerning sex by some sex-worker in a pornographic video or some objectifying filmmaker ‘illegally’; and the other, to, for once, put his stubbornness aside and strive for a fervent Sex Education Policy so as the generation ahead is provided with the same information in reasonable light at the hands of some expert and bring about a revolution by bringing up a generation of men and women unequivocal in their astute approach towards sex-related issues and usher the already great India into an era of even greater things. The Rational Indian could just relax for a change.