Sunny, Sex & Navra­tri!

Sunny Leone’s Navra­tri con­dom ad isn’t the prob­lem; our hypocrisy to­wards sex is

The Day After - - CONTENT - By daN­FES Feed­back on:re­porter@dayaf­

She might be the most Googled per­son­al­ity of the year, trump­ing even Naren­dra Modi but some­thing about Sunny Leone makes us very ner­vous in­deed. When her film Jism 2 was re­leased, her ef­figy was burned in pub­lic and PIL was filed to get the film banned be­cause it “il­le­gally” pro­moted a porn star.

The lat­est cloud in our Sunny skies is a Man­force con­dom ad. More specif­i­cally a con­dom ad tied to Navara­tri.

“Aa Navra­triye ramo, paraantu prem thi (Play but with love, this Navara­tri)” it ad­vises us while Sunny Leone looks on se­duc­tively along­side a pair of dandiya sticks.

The right­eous cit­i­zens are in a right­eous up­roar. The Con­fed­er­a­tion of All In­dia Traders has shot off a let to Ram Vi­las Paswan, Min­is­ter of Con­sumer Af­fairs de­mand­ing the ad be banned. It is “putting all our cul­tural value sys­tem at stake” says the let­ter. And then it points an ac­cus­ing fin­ger at Sunny Leone her­self. And her am­ple lust.

“The most ir­re­spon­si­ble act of its Brand Am­bas­sador Ms Sunny Leone is an am­ple tes­ti­mony of the fact that in the lust of earn­ing huge money, these Brand Am­bas­sadors can go to any level ir­re­spec­tive of pi­ous and re­li­gious oc­ca­sion of Navara­tri even.”

Man­force, of course, just wants to sell con­doms whether dur­ing Navara­tri or Christ­mas or any other time of the year. But let’s not hold them re­spon­si­ble for turn­ing a “pi­ous and re­li­gious oc­ca­sion” into some fes­ti­val of free sex. That is our hypocrisy.

Sur­veys have shown that con­dom sales do go up 25-50% dur­ing Garba sea­son while Navara­tri is in full swing in Gu­jarat.

Oral con­tra­cep­tive sales go even higher. It’s a time when young men and women can hang out to­gether away from the pry­ing eyes of moth­ers and fa­thers and na­ture fol­lows the birds and bees. NGOs promoting safe sex have put up HIV aware­ness stalls at garba venues, hand­ing out free con­doms with leaflets. Con­domvend­ing ma­chines are in­stalled in ho­tels by NGOs like Vikas Jyot Trust ac­cord­ing to the Times of In­dia. Even Anandiben Pa­tel made a fate­ful com­ment once about abor­tions spik­ing in Gu­jarat a few months af­ter Navara­tri.

So why blame Sunny Leone as if she is the Pied Piper of sin lead­ing our in­no­cent youth astray?

The prob­lem re­ally is the bill­board. We are a don’t ask, don’t tell so­ci­ety. Sunny Leone is our God­dess of the dark­ened movie theater or our pri­vate bed­rooms. That’s where we hoot and shout and erupt in a com­mu­nal wolf whis­tle as she rises wet and glis­ten­ing from a body of wa­ter in Jism 2.

When Sunny Leone winks at us from a bill­board on a busy high­way as we are headed to work or a fam­ily din­ner, we look away ner­vously. The other woman is step­ping out of her Lak­sh­man­rekha. Sunny Leone re­mind­ing us that we might have lust­ful thoughts dur­ing Navara­tri em­bar­rasses us even if the con­dom sales spike prove that she’s on the money.

The prob­lem is not the sex. The prob­lem is Sunny Leone openly telling us about it.

The CAIT, it’s worth not­ing, does not seem to think that Gu­jaratis hav­ing sex dur­ing Navara­tri are putting “all our cul­tural value sys­tem at stake”. They think a Man­force con­dom ad say­ing that is what’s do­ing the dirty. They are not cam­paign­ing to clean up Navara­tri and pro­mote pure thoughts in the minds of the rev­el­ers. They just want to ban a Sunny Leone ad for con­doms in­stead, a clear case of shoot­ing the mes­sen­ger. “This can­not be tol­er­ated and our protests will get stronger if these hoard­ings are not re­moved im­me­di­ately,” says Naren­dra Chaud­hary, pres­i­dent of Hindu Yuva Vahini.

There’s noth­ing new about this ei­ther other than Sunny Leone’s celebrity. Back in 2003, the Times of In­dia was run­ning sto­ries about ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing of con­doms near pop­u­lar garba venues. Anandiben Pa­tel’s com­ments about abor­tion date back to 1999-2000. But Sunny Leone in 2017 makes for a far more news­wor­thy tar­get in this par­tic­u­lar ver­sion of a Swacch Bharat drive.

Navara­tri is a time for cel­e­bra­tion of the vic­tory of good over evil. Some fast. Some feast. Some ap­par­ently have sex. There’s no need to be squea­mish about it. Our Gods were not ashamed of their de­sires. They were not em­bar­rassed about se­duc­tion and sex. But we who wor­ship those Gods like to pre­tend that 1.3 bil­lion In­di­ans were pro­duced by im­mac­u­late con­cep­tion. We should in­stead be glad that at least those postNavara­tri abor­tion trends have de­creased since 2010 be­cause there’s more sex aware­ness, con­dom sales and oral con­tra­cep­tive sales.

“The in­sin­u­a­tion on the hoard­ings from a con­dom brand in­sults the re­li­gious sen­ti­ments of Hin­dus,” says Chaud­hary. It’s not clear whether than means Hin­dus don’t use con­doms. Or are Hin­dus not al­lowed to have sex dur­ing Navara­tri? Of course some ads can of­fend our sen­si­bil­i­ties.

In a world where a Jawed Habib sa­lon ad show­ing the God­dess Durga go­ing with her fam­ily for a spa day makes some Hin­dus see red, there will likely be no love lost for a con­dom ad pegged to Navara­tri . But blam­ing Sunny Leone and Man­force for our lack of Navara­tri self con­trol is a lit­tle rich. In this case we are be­ing rather thin-skinned about it all. Just like the best con­doms. We might not ap­pre­ci­ate that Navara­tri sees a rise in con­dom sales but why make Sunny Leone a scape­goat for our hor­mones do­ing the dandiya?

Con­dom advertisement on Navra­tri raises hack­les in Su­rat

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