While I think it’s great seeing all the excitement and press coverage about India legalizing gay sex, I think it’s really important to remember that this is NOT India progressing due to Western influence. This is India decolonizing.
The homophobic statute that was overturned is a product of British colonialism in India. Prior to that, India had a rich and vibrant queer community that played important functions in society. There were queer Hindu gods and hijras serve as an example of how queerness in society was venerated. This is not something to patronize India over and congratulate ourselves in the West for. This is a victory for India reclaiming their culture.
Oh my god. If i see one more of these posts in my dash I will murder someone.
Okay, let’s see:
“The homophobic statute that was overturned is a product of British colonialism in India.”
True. Section 377 was implemented by British Raj in India, possibly as an effort to safeguard Victorian mores.
“Prior to that, India had a rich and vibrant queer community that played important functions in society.”
Can you please tell me what the “important functions in society” were, my dear fella? Contrary to tumblr’s belief, homophobia was not a western (or christian) invention. We were plenty homophobic on our own, thanks. Literally, the only acceptable ‘queerness’ in society was a laundebaaz (aka, one who does it to men/boys) whereas the gandu (aka the one who takes it up the ass) was considered the lowest of low in society. Even now, gandu is a derogatory word similar to faggot. Does that sound like “venerating queerness” to you dear?
Also, lesbians? LOL. What lesbians?? Funnily enough, even in “a society venerating queerness" lesbianism is practically unheard of. Furthermore, the ‘celebration of queerness” in these cultures is mostly male receiving partners being pushed to the margins of society.
But hey, why consider boring things like reality… when you can have Cool-Tumblr-Version-of-Queer-Feminist-Utopia-Before-the-Whiteys-Fucked-Everything-Up™
brand of history?
“There were queer Hindu gods and hijras serve as an example of how queerness in society was venerated”
Firstly, there “were queer Gods”? What happened to them? Did they die when colonialism happened? Did they go, “Ah… those dastardly British have set foot on India and are imposing their Victorian mores, perhaps we should pack up our bags and leave”? I might be a tad bit uninformed in my “queer Gods”, considering the fact that I was born into and practicing Hinduism since my birth and so has all my forefathers, but according to my knowledge those “Queer Gods” still remained in society. Yet, homophobia persisted. Heck, Sabarimala is one of the most pilgrimage sites (that has the son of ‘Queer Gods’ as the deity), and even now “youthful females” (i.e., women of ages from their first menstruation till menopause) are NOT ALLOWED TO ENTER.
Despite being the son of queer gods, Ayyappa still seems to be misogynistic as fuck.
Secondly, you might wanna brush up on those queer gods and legendary figures… almost in all of them one of the couple gets magically changed to other sex and begets a biological child. Biological procreation and production of progeny – it seems as if even the Gods have to perform and conform to heteronormativity.
I wish I got dollars for every time a White Ally™ misused or misrepresented hijras. Contrary to popular belief, hijras are not transexuals (at least not all of them). There are different types of hijras – those who were born hermaphrodites, those who castrate themselves and proclaim to be neither man nor woman, those who are homosexual men who crossdress, and those who are men who do not perform masculinity to society’s standards. They are literally gender non-conforming men : either their homosexuality is a deviancy that needed to be corrected; or their lack of assertion of heterosexuality was a mistake to be corrected, or they just liked “girly things” too much.
So, these “venerated positions” that they supposedly held was quite literally the only option left to them – they were kicked out of society and jobs. I know a lot of people on tumblr would say “but they were in kings’ courts and all”. Guess why? They were either entertainers (a part of the dance troupe) because that ‘girly’ job was seen apt for them. Generally, dancers were not seen in positive light.
They were considered at best as courtesans and at worst as prostitutes.
Even now, “attakari” (dancer) is a term used to say a woman is a slut.
Second option for them was as guards or companions (sahelis). This was to ensure “the purity of noble woman”. After all, when the “purity of the womb” is of the utmost importance, a king/noble wouldn’t even trust male guards with their women. Heck, there are even legends of gnc men being coerced into castration so as to make guards for ladies. That is why they were the guards of many noble’s harems – not because they were valued for their capabilities, but because they couldn’t “damage the property” (i.e., have penetrative sex with the royal’s women).
Nowadays, most of them cannot get a decent jobs, and literally have to beg in trains and buses to get food on their tables. Oh, this is also a part of the “veneration” : they have no livelihood, so they go and threaten people with curses (their otherness makes them freaky, and according to superstition gives them supernatural powers), so that people will donate some money in fear.
This is not including the young boys and men that were pushed into sex mafia and trafficking.
So, miss me with that “veneration” bullshit.
“This is not something to patronize India over and congratulate ourselves
in the West for. This is a victory for India reclaiming their culture.”
Do you know what I find patronising? White allys
who has read Buzzfeed articles on ‘hijras’ or ‘queerness’ somehow pretending to speak for us. Lauding us for our extremely open/feminist/queer Culture™
that they know of through exoticized magazines and power yoga videos.
I once read an essay on how Indian patriarchial system countered westernization (in an effort to prevent women from going outside their homes) by claiming that
while British might be materialistically more advanced than Indians, ~spiritually Indians are better than British~.
The same exotic bullshit is repackaged here, using liberal buzzwords to please tumblr crowd.
Point taken. Anyone who reblogged this should read and understand this for a full picture of the issue (including me).
Honestly @chrringoftheprintingmachine thank you for that methodical, detailed, and above all righteous take-down because I was about to have a rage-aneurysm when I read yet another one of these. (Also this is the first time I’ve seen someone point out just how misogynistic the word attakari is, are you tamil/from the south? It always strikes me as ironic how rich diaspora tamils here will send their kids to dance classes to keep them “in touch with their culture”, lord it over others because it’s seen as High Art when it’s sanitised and classical or bharatnatyam/kathakali, but at the same time still use chi, kooth aadra paar or attakari as an insult…)
I just want to add, though, that even IF this law was an example of pure colonialism, which it isn’t… their argument still doesn’t make sense. Because the original decriminalisation of gayness passed in India in 2006. It was then made illegal again in 2013. Now it’s legal again. If this was solely to do with colonialism and the meanie vellaikaaran forcing the poor wee Indian establishment to be homophobic, why did they criminalise it again in 2013? And the thing about this being a Raj-era law is… India fought a big damn campaign for Independence from the Raj. We make quite a fuss about it every August. You can’t claim that you’re a big new independent country that’s wholly different to the colonisers… then keep the nasty bits of the laws if you secretly don’t mind…