Thursday, December 17, 2009

Managing one's sexual urges continues to be relevant

Home > Opinion > Taming the sexual tiger
Abhay Vaidya DNA, Monday, December 14, 2009

The world has passed through multiple sexual revolutions since and India is just beginning to open up on this front. Sexual freedom is increasingly becoming a reality, especially for urban Indian men and women, and there is ample opportunity for experimentation, be it real or virtual. As our society embraces new attitudes on sex, making it challenging particularly for the youth, the fact remains that howsoever outdated and irrelevant Gandhi's thoughts may seem today, his focal point on managing one's sexual urges continues to be relevant.

All the more for people in the public glare, who have high stakes in carefully cultivated images which are often just facades. Tiger Woods is but the latest in the long string of notables from any and every country whose image has been shattered by the revelation of his sexual escapades. It was Bill Clinton before him who made headline news on the same subject. Both Clinton and Woods projected the image of ideal family men but confessed that they had erred in weak moments.

Our present ethic on fidelity in marriage can be traced to the traditions of the Catholic Church and 18th century America which "condemned sex outside marriage and exalted family solidarity". As it stands, marriage has emerged as more than a practical institution; it is a bond of trust among couples that weakens, if not breaks, with the discovery of infidelity.

The matter of suppressing sexual urges has been central to practically all religions, although virtually all religious orders have failed in trying to keep their priests and pundits celibate, as is evidenced from scandal upon scandal. [...]

The American philosopher Will Durant described sex as "our strongest instinct and greatest problem" after hunger. He strongly disapproved of the gross stimulation provided to this instinct by modern civilisation through advertisement and other means and looked upon marriage as a solution "to take our minds off sex, and become adult".

It may be forcefully argued that the traditional emphasis on suppressing the sexual urge has, on the contrary, fuelled the sex industry and, as a consequence, the trafficking of children who die young or end up as unwillingprostitutes. Legalising prostitution is one way of coming out of our denial and this thought was expressed recently by the Supreme Court.

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