FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Sex, Swat and Susan Boyle

One was touched by a man in an illicit relationship. The other has never been kissed. One is a teenager; the other a middle-aged woman. One was from a tribal area who went and did what she wanted; the other a talent contest participant from Britain who sang about a dream. One was flogged by clerics. The other was feted by an audience despite not fitting into the Britney Spears belly-button star mould.

Both women became public figures and public property. They were being judged by standards of prudery.

The covert exhibitionism of their fate made it to the headlines; they became symbols of repression and expression, respectively. The truth is that if we skim the surface, we were unwittingly made witnesses to the prosecution of both.

Every uploaded YouTube video gave us the power to watch and enjoy the absurd reality.

Chand became the ‘lucky winner’ to be shot on a cellphone camera. If those flogging her for the crime were the Taliban, then those who posted that clip everywhere were no better. It wasn’t about the rule of Shariah being imposed that was of much concern to the outside world; no one makes an exhibit of it in Saudi Arabia. This was pure and simple powerplay, and not only by the Taliban but each and every viewer.

The term “pornography of violence” is flashed around without really understanding how vile the idea is. Sexual pornography serves the purpose of self-gratification even if it starts out as a voyeuristic instinct.

The pornography of violence assumes that watching others being beaten up satiates our senses. This may work at the level of catharsis if one is abused or there is some internal turmoil. In most instances, it is clearly an exercise in impotent one-upmanship – the bravado of the spectator of, perhaps, a film with aggressive overtones. It is under cover of a darkened auditorium but with the solace of being part of a herd that such anger manifests itself.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the self-righteous indignation of those sponging off the Swat flogging video is really a release for their own fantasies. A young woman, illicit sex, sin, retribution at the hands of overtly virile men have all the elements of mental masturbation.

That it belongs to the tribal areas lends it rustic exoticism. For the Westerner it is also exorcism by proxy. Unable to respond with evangelical fervour to a teen who gives birth to a baby claimed by a 12-year-old as his (subsequent DNA reports disproved it, which means she had multiple partners) or the sordidness of an incestuous father who fathered his daughter’s children or the several cases of campus violence that is transporting the wild onto the charmed circle of the ennui of the educated, the alien contemporary stone age man provides relief from tedium and responsibility.

The “monster dad” sounds almost like a disciplinarian compared to those blind believers of a Bedouin faith.

Interestingly, the standards to judge religion do not apply to the rather becoming epithet of “Ballerina of god”. Anna Nobili was a lap dancer in Milan. She later joined the Church and has performed before an audience of bishops and cardinals. One video clip shows her lying face down, arms outstretched in a Christ-like pose. Only, no one is flogging her. It is self-flagellation as she removes her nun’s habit to reveal a blood red gown and gyrates in what has been termed a mystical form.

It appears as the madness of one who is seeking legitimacy by buying it with precisely what she earlier sold.

The barter of voyeurism works along these clear lines. It isn’t Susan Boyle’s talent that has been appreciated; she was being given the patronising patriarchal nod, not despite her virginity but because of it.

This is the Western version of the Taliban. The flogging is emotional.

FARZANA VERSEY is a Mumbai-based columnist and author of A Journey Interrupted: Being Indian in Pakistan, Harper Collins, India. She can be reached at kaaghaz.kalam@gmail.com

More articles by:

Farzana Versey can be reached at Cross Connections

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail