I was in school when I was first introduced to the Mills and Boons book series by a friend. At first, I thought it was just another one of that chick-lit stuff, the one that apparently makes girls feel all gooey and shit. Literature Erotica wasn’t a well-known genre for me at my age then. It was very…different, to say the least.
As the years went by, I started college and traveling in the local trains became a regular thing. Often, I would see girls reading these books, covered with the brown paper used by school kids to cover books. I never saw what books those were, until one day, when a friend of mine had one of those books on her, and while traveling to a station a little farther than usual, she pulled it out. I coughed lightly. It wasn’t very polite for a person to do something like reading, which is very personal, when there is another soul right in front.
She looked up sheepishly and asked, “Do you want to borrow my earphones?”
I glared at her and answered, “No, I want you to keep me company.”
She blushed and beckoned me to come closer.
I looked at her suspiciously, but scooted closer anyway.
With a sly smile, she pulled off the brown cover, revealing the name of the book and the image of a girl and a guy in a very compromising position on the cover.
My eyes widened as I took it all in. Okay then, a really close friend of mine was into literature erotica. I had known this girl for 3 years now, and I never knew this about her.
I asked her for how long had she been reading these books. I was curious. Sue me.
She looked at me, embarrassed and muttered “School”, with her head held low.
Her embarrassment was a little confusing to me. So, I obviously led with the implied question next.
She said it was embarrassing to read such things in public. Erotica was a hush-hush thing, a thing to be discussed in the basements at the secret book club meetings. An abomination for girls to read; let alone in public.
Now, I’m not a feminist. The concept has been twisted into something negative, in my opinion. Let’s not digress though. This topic is for some other time.
But, the fact that she was embarrassed like she’d been caught something wrong or socially unacceptable just pricked my mind.
I don’t read erotica, because that is not a genre I am fond of. But, why? Why is it an abomination for girls to read erotica? Guys watch porn; it’s an accepted fact in the society. In fact, more than once, I have had guy friends mention their jerk-off moments without so much as a bashful glance down in public. In a social setting. And get away with it.
So, guys watching and discussing people do things to each other, and guffawing and slapping each other’s backs while talking about a certain position is socially acceptable.
But a girl indulging in writing that spins mere words into immaculate and picturesque stories that are aesthetically pleasing and provide romantic and sexual feelings of pleasure to the reader is a taboo?
It is perfectly fine for a girl to indulge in erotic reading without having to feel like a terrorist on the down low. She shouldn’t have to feel like she’s committing a sin, that she is paving a one-way road to hell. She can do worse, believe me.
It pains me to think that although Mumbai is considered to be one of the most forward, unorthodox, modern places in not only India but the world, we have a majority of the female population cower in fear about their book choices, which tagged as unethical.
Who decides where the veil falls between ethical and otherwise?