Representational image. Courtesy: New York Post

Is Sex Really About Sex?

December 18, 2020

Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power~Oscar Wilde

In my college days, I often found this quote (if and only it can be attributed to Wilde) very baffling. I tried my best to deduce a rational interpretation but ambivalence always got the better of me.

Today, this quote seems to make a lot more sense, especially after the way our understanding of the gender power dynamics has changed.

Yes, sex is about power, but what kind of power?

With the start of the #metoo movement on social media, a number of women came forward to share their experiences of facing sexual abuse, especially at the hands of their male colleagues.

In most of the cases, the perpetrators were in a more powerful position than the victims. To understand it better, let me take the example of Mahasweta Devi's short story Draupadi.

The character of Draupadi is raped multiple times by the policemen and she is left on the ground, naked, blood oozing out from all parts of her body.

This heinous act, however, is steered not solely by lust, but also by the need of the policemen to show Draupadi her place in a society dominated by men.

The act of the rape itself is a testimony to the validation that men seek to sate their fragile egos, to maintain the power dynamics that have existed throughout the ages; sex, in this case, is just the tool to sustain that hierarchy.

Even terms like “screw you” is an allusion to the act of penetration, to be exercised by men and to be received by women.

The word “F**k” for example, according to a number of studies, owes its origin to an Indo-European root meaning “to strike”, thereby attributing the element of violence to an otherwise act of romantic union.

Majority of the rape cases across the globe are steered mainly by the instinct to establish power.

In the Nirbhaya episode, for instance, sex was hardly the triggering factor- it was the urge to show a woman "her place in the society", to reinforce the idea of the “ideal” woman “who does not stay out at night”.

And what could be a more explicit way than raping the guts out of the woman who does not abide by the gender norms established by the chauvinists of our society?

Even in the case of consensual “realistic” sex, “role reversal” happens only when the male decides to give up his “dominance”, just for once, and let the female take charge.

His submission is just a one-time thing, steered by the curiosity to find out what happens when the female assumes dominance, only to re-establish the power dynamics once the fornication is over.

Thus, sex is undoubtedly about power, about maintaining the social status quo.

MORE FROM THE AUTHOR | Matriarchy And The Village Named Umoja

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