Saturday, July 28, 2012

These Men and Those

Back home in India, recent incidents of molestation of young girls and women have everyone agitated. Everywhere you look, there are articles about how women are mistreated in India, how pervasive and accepted/expected this phenomenon called eve-teasing is, and how we need to fix this problem at the root. Everyone agrees that the spoiled uncouth Indian youth are out of control and something needs to be done to change them. Any smart person, man or woman, will find it easy to understand and concur with this sentiment.

Here in Singapore, two stories are hogging the limelight- one about an online "vice ring" involving underage Vietnamese prostitutes, and the other about an NUS professor who took sexual favors from a female student in exchange for good grades. Both classic male fantasies. Photos of the men involved in these scandals are everywhere: in newspapers, on blogs and on FB. One thing strikes me when I see their pictures- all of them look like regular guys next door. They appear educated, well dressed and seemingly respectable. Quite the opposite of the scruffy rowdy youth of the recent Indian stories. 

Indeed, most of the men in the Singapore scandals are well educated, married and hold important positions at work. Imagine this. After kissing their wives goodbye and dropping their kids off to prestigious schools in the morning, they find time in their busy schedules (full of important meetings I am sure) to locate prostitutes and have sex with them at various hotels. And the NUS professor is a successful author, a great teacher and a father of a teenage girl- who somehow fits in sex with a student into his idea of a wholesome life.

Yes, these men in Singapore look very different and lead very different lives from the scruffy youth in the recent Indian molestation stories. But look a little deeper, scratch the surface a little, and you will see that the difference is just cosmetic. These men are no better than those. 


  1. Men are men and barring the external dressing thinking process is same. Why all of them do not behave the same way is simply the sanskar that they are given by their families. I dont think there is an apt word in English for sanskar. Sometimes they are so obsessed with sex that they give a go by to their instincts. Why do you think the President of Usa with a beautiful wife and teenage children had to look for vicarious pleasure. Life for all of them still goes on unashamedly. Strangely in most cases women are blamed for provoking the bad behavior of men.

  2. Dear Puja, when you told me during last Thursday's dinner about your blog I of course was interested, although I have never read any blog in my life, let alone writing or commenting one. And now I see an article from you about sex and lust; my god (even though I do not believe in any god). Here you got me, and I lose my virginity (too tempting) on blog commenting with this one ;-)
    I actually think it is a bit unfair to put the spotlight only on men, of course I am one what other answer can one expect. But by no means would I blame the woman/men who provides this service; after all isn’t the future of industrialised nations depending on building up a strong service industry. And service it is, what a prostitute offers and delivers, right? It might not be the service which one likes but we live in a society which gives us choice and I love choice.
    As a European, I am privileged to see the benefits of a rather free society and what it has to offer. It is not perfect but on the right track. And one thing you can see here that there is not only a huge demand of sex service from female providers to male customers but also from male providers to female customers. In general the former is kind of accepted in many if not all societies in the world but the later only in a selective few and Singapore is definitely not one.
    One recent study (don’t really know how one can study this but it somehow sounds plausible) showed that about 10% to 15% of all babies born in Germany in the past 2 decades are cookoo babies, is that English? Basically babies where the father thinks it is from him but it turns out or remains a secret forever that it is actually from someone else. So these mothers had their pleasure with others, paid or unpaid service I do not know. I have not seen these mothers in the papers like the Singaporean men you referred to, why?
    Long story cut short, both male and female seek the service from sex workers. And these service providers have a market, otherwise they would not be plentiful available. Just because many societies look down upon prostitutes and the satisfying of lust, strange unreasonable laws or no laws at all are implemented but very little enforced. If one would just accept it as a service like banking (my domain), serving food or cutting hairs than one could establish reasonable laws which are being enforced on both the supplier when he/she does something wrong or the one who demands the service, male or female, never mind. Nobody should be above the law (yes, I know I am a dreamer) and nobody should be looked down upon for the legal service he or she provides.
    PS (can one do PS in a blog or is it against the law!)
    A completely different service provider wrecked havoc to the world, made some 100 million people unemployed and has brought only pain to the world. They themselves bask in money and status (shrinking though) but none of these criminals – at least in the western world - has ever been brought to justice and put to jail. I am referring to bankers here. Isn’t it an irony that these investment banker are seen at the top of the society and rape the world and prostitutes are at the low of society for providing needed service?

  3. Dear M, thanks for writing this very interesting comment. Appreciate the sentiment. I am no misandrist and know that these behaviors are not the monopoly of one sex. These are human tendencies and actions and men and women equally make the human species.

    However, I was writing particularly about 2-3 incidents. In all of these, men were in a position of authority and power. I am sure a 15 year old Vietnamese girl is not making decisions about her actions and partners. Likewise, the professor was in a position of power in that situation.

    In my experience, I have seen many men condemning molestation and rape of women, yet at the same time exploiting others. Just because people appear "polished" and live in "sophisticated" environments doesn't make them any better than the uncouth goons who molest and rape women on the streets of India.

    That's the point I was trying to make.