Dec 162012

BBC News has an article on the first above-ground BDSM group in India, the Kinky Kollective.

The participants are members of the The Kinky Collective, a small group of heterosexual and transgender people, trying to connect to other Indians active and open about their BDSM preferences on various online communities and social networking websites.

The group’s two functions are education for people interested in kink, and spreading awareness to outside groups and agencies.

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Nov 202010

Pleasure Dome, by Megumu Minami, is a collection of 5 yaoi manga stories. There is a lot of non-consent, bondage and “ravishment” in these stories, plus an absinthe enema. There’s also a strong theme of role reversal, switching back and forth between who is on top and who is one the bottom.

Of the five stories in this collection, two use real-world historical conflicts as settings.

“Desire on Fire” is set during the British colonization of India. A British officer attempts conquer an Indian prince, but ends up captured instead. Ultimately, the prince, torn between his duty to his people and his love for the officer, exiles himself and chains himself to a rock, waiting to die, where the officer finds him, out for vengeance.

In the afterward, the author says this is very loosely based on the Buddhist story of Angulimala, a bandit who reformed under the influence of Buddha.

The Japanese are not strict and devout Buddhists, but there is something very dramatic and attractive about various characters that appear in Buddhism. I’m sure Christians feel something similar when they hear about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, the Crucifixion, and other biblical stories.

To other people around me, I may have looked like a very devout Buddhist that was touched by the religious significance of the location. However, I must confess. When I closed my eyes, I was thinking more of the bare feet of Angulimala dashing about.

I wonder if I’ll ever be punished for my blasphemy.

The second story, “Hell for a Fallen Angel”, refers to the persecution of Catholics in feudal Japan. The male owner of a brothel is tasked to torment a male Christian and get him to give up his faith.

Christianity has a definite foreign feeling. Some of the words uttered by Japanese Christians back in the day like “Biruzen Santa Maria”, “Rusanchiman” and others end me into a dreamy state.

Of the remaining three stories, one is set in Medieval Europe and loosely adapts “The Song of Roland”, while the other two are set in Europe in some Edwardian or late Victorian period. The settings seem to be mainly there for variation in costume and character design.

So, we have various historical settings and religious myth used as backdrops for male-male erotica. From a Japanese perspective, none of these are set in the here and now, and arguably their settings are fair game for use as background.

I’m not sure an Indian person or a devout Buddhist would be too pleased with “Desire on Fire,” but I think this is an example of using real world settings, even controversial ones, as inspirations for sexual fantasy. It is not only the West using the East for its own imaginative purposes; Japanese may indulge their own “Occidentalism” by reading these stories. The author herself (?) seems only slightly concerned about the shift between the reality of atrocity and the fantasy of sadomasochistic, homoerotic romance.

At a certain remove in time and space, atrocity and injustice become fantasy material.

Sep 182006

An in-law was kind enough to send me a copy of the Indian magazine Women’s Era, July 2006 edition, which includes an article in English titled, “Sexual Roleplaying: Elixir of Youth”, by A. Sharma.

Women’s Era is a women’s magazine in the Women’s Day vein, written in slightly stilted English. I am told the readership is primarily English-reading village wives.

Right from the beginning, the article starts from the “marriage manual” approach. This is aimed at married couples.

Sex is an important factor between two adults in a marriage, and how they deal with this aspect of their equation often has an important impact on their life as a couple. As long as the institution of the extended joint family was live in India, the earlier bumps in a marriage were never felt and the couple often settled into a routine with time. But single-unit families, increasingly popular now, means that the couple has to bond for life and give each other mental, emotional and sexual support.

How can sexual fantasies help in such situations, one might ask. Simple really. Fantasies do not need action, they are just in our inds and our mind is the most important tool for enjoying anything and everything. That includes sex.

What interests me is the kind of fantasies discussed in the article. Do Indian people have different sexual fantasies than Westerners?

The first one quoted is “Naughty child needs reprimand”.

This style of fantasy is more repeated in Western cultures where the teacher figure is more desirable.

I’m puzzling over what that means. Is there no pedagogic eros in India? I had thought that India would have inherited the British public education system, for better or for worse, with all the attendant psychosexual tensions and consequent fantasies. However, another inlaw reminded me that, not only does India have its own sexual traditions, but only a minority of people get a formal education.

I have to wonder if corporal punishment was as much a part of Indian culture as it was of British culture. Ian Gibson’s The English Vice says that school beatings had been banned in France in the 19th century while they were still going strong in Britain. Yet there was a lot of kinkiness in French literature. I’d like to look into that for the USA as well. I think it is just too simple to say that a culture has a lot of corporal punishment in schools (or the military in the case of societies with compulsory service) and therefore will have it in fantasies.

“Playing doctor or nurse” is pretty straightforward: authority figure, plausibly deniable physical intimacy. “A cosy threesome” is “best left as a fantasy which is never put to the test.” There’s “Casual Sex”, the “meet me in a public place and pretend we don’t know each other” gambit.

“More-risk fantasy” is where things get interesting.

From the harmless fantasy to the more risky imagination, this category for either partner could include anything. It might include a little pain, pretension of forced sex or forbidden sex. Once again, here, total trust between the couple is needed. If you are trying it for the first time, clear boundaries must be laid down and an expression or word must be kept as a last indication that one of you has stopped enjoying it.

Thankfully, the article includes some coverage of emotional safety.

Once the fantasy is played out and the desired result experienced and enjoyed, it must never be used as a weapon against the partner. Rima experienced the negative side of such a situation. She shared her fantasy with her husband Prem and they pretended that he was a master and she was a slave. However, her husband started taunting her about it and wanted to treat her as a slave all the time. It came to a state that shey needed the intervention of a counsellor.

It was a while before Prem admitted that, although he was excited while playing the fantasy, he was disgusted with it later and wanted to punish Rima. “Suddenly, our game became a dirty detail that I wanted to forget,” said Rima.

The “master and slave” bit caught my eye. I wonder which cultural tradition that came from. Was it borrowed from the 17th-19th century colonial background, which I believe is the cultural origin of modern BDSM master-slave relationships? Or was it drawn from Indian history?

The article ends on the “BDSM is good for you and your marriage” note. You’ll be in a good mood, you’ll burn calories, you’ll sleep better, your skin will be better, and it will build trust and love with your partner. To my mind, BDSM is not necessarily good for you, nor is it necessarily bad for you either. It just is something people do, and it can be done in a healthy or an unhealthy way.

For an article in a women’s consumer magazine, it was actually pretty insightful, and I’m glad they talked about emotional safety. Now if they just talked about physical safety too, I’d be satisfied.

So is there a BDSM culture in India today? The Dickie Virgin pro dominatrix guide lists pro-dommes in North America, Europe, Thailand and even Saudi Arabia, but nothing for India. The only hint I could find is a 2003 article from the Hindu Business Line about spam email calling for “ladies ONLY between 18-22 in age located in Bombay for upcoming shoots. The shoot planned in Bombay is related to BDSM & Fetish.” I also recall a woman in a PVC or latex jumpsuit on the cover of an issue of National Geographic a year or three ago, but that’s more about fashion than fetish.

Jul 152006

A source tells me that kink memes are slowly spreading in India.

Well, I’m looking at the July 2006 issue of the [English language] Indian Magazine “Women’s Era” (designed for lower middle class village women as far as we can tell) and there is an article in there, entitled: “Sexual Role Playing” which is definitely about “kink light”. Some of the roles suggested are: Naughty Child Needs Reprimand, Playing Doctor, More Risk Fantasy. The Naughty Child section begins: “This style of fantasy is more repeated in Western Cultures where the teacher figure is more desireable” and goes on about punishment fantasies. Playing Doctor is obvious and the section of “More Risk” says “it might include a little pain, pretension of forced sex or forbidden sex.” It also talks about safe words or signals without actually calling them that. So apparently there IS room for and interest in some kinds of kink here in India. We didn’t even go looking for this article – my wife picked up the magazine as something to read on the bus and went, “Look at this!”

I’m not sure what the magazine means by “This style of fantasy is more repeated in Western Cultures where the teacher figure is more desireable.” Do Indian people not have fantasies about their teachers for some reason? I had assumed that India had inherited the British education system, for better or for worse, which included the public school-style discipline and perhaps the attendant fantasies, but that’s just a guess. More research needed.