OPINION

Am I A Hypocrite?

January 28, 2008
Sakshi Juneja

Sometimes mere conversations can lead to such profound insights that the after effect continues to linger on, even after a couple of days. And one such talk I had with a dear friend, The IdeaSmithy, a couple of days back.

It all started with my telling her about the family dinner I had the previous night at a fancy joint in the city – among the who’s and who of the town there was another very familiar face among the crowd. Familiar, not in sense I knew the concerned individual personally but someone I had read a lot about in our daily tabloids.

Besides belonging to a once upon a time influential business family, add to this on and off family feuds – Ajay Mafatlal managed to grab greater news space for something rarely heard of in our society, a sex change operation.

For those who aren’t familiar; Ajay was born as Aparna Mafatlal and in November 2003 underwent a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS). He was later on quoted saying,

 

I haven’t changed my sex for the property. I had the mannerisms of a boy since I was six years old and underwent the change for personal reasons.

[To know more, check out Ajay’s TOI interview].

Basically in our chat, I was in a way confessing to her of my own hypocrite mentality (or so I felt at the dinner table).

Meaning - After having invested considerable amount of time reading literature on Homosexuality (in India), interacting with those directly involved in the Rainbow Campaigns/Queer Fests, writing multiple posts informing and thereby asking readers to open their minds when it comes to the Indian Queer Community and the fact that two of my good friends (one of them having spent practically half of his life in the closet) are Homosexuals - there I was shying away from the very thing I have been preaching.

Seriously. I can’t even remember the number of times I must have bluntly stared at the poor soul; sometimes with curiosity and at times with amusement. It was as if I was not looking at a human being but a science experiment. A look around, the expressions on other faces were no different from mine. And I guess this is what made my guilt deeply trouble me, the fact that I was just one of them.

My friend on the other hand was her sweetest self and her constant assurance that “curiosity is natural” did help a bit but somehow even days after I am not able to shrug the guilt.

Crossing over the fence – One can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for people like Ajay to lead a normal life, be a regular guy; without being gawked at, finger pointing, behind-the-back talks and constant ridicule. Really, just think about it.

I believe only the ones with some serious will power and balls of steel (no pun intended) can lead a life filled with never-ending struggles (keeping the reserved Indian attitude in context).

Further into our talk, the topic of - Homosexual men having a slight edge over Homosexual females (in India) - also cropped up, a thought that has been with me for a while now. And something my friend, IdeaSmithy also seems to agree with.

Hopefully no one will jump to conclusions here, we are all on the same side (at least so I hope). But this is it for now, will talk more on the above in the next post.

 

Saakshi O. Juneja is an active blogger, feminist and overboard dog lover. Currently working as a Business Development Manager for a sportswear manufacturing company in Mumbai, India. Did graduation in Marketing & Advertising from Sydney, Australia. As far as blogging is concerned...is a complete Blog-a-holic.
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#1
lomi
January 28, 2008
03:44 AM

Do u still have doubts?

#2
Saakshi O. Juneja
URL
January 28, 2008
03:55 AM

Uff...unfortunately your opinion doesn't count. So move over, my friend (not). :-)

#3
Deepti Lamba
URL
January 28, 2008
04:12 AM

Doubts about what? The very fact that you are addressing the issue shows you are self reflective and hardly a hypocrite

#4
tarun
URL
January 28, 2008
05:51 AM

Dont know bout 'balls of steels'. I find myself as a drama queen with a very weak heart who cries in cilema halls and laugh out loudly. ButI am no more aplogetic. And I think gradually one can overcome from the so called stigma and marginalisation . After all there is only one life, and we cannot honestly be apologetic about being gay. I think hypocricy comes when we know that we are gay and live it and pretend we donot. Ofcourse all of us have elements of hypocricy in us. If not sexuality then of class/ caste or gender. No one is holier than others. So lets live with our litlle hypocricies. But lets not forget to celebrate and scream 'we are gay' whenever needed/ possible. Love. Tarun

#5
tarun
URL
January 28, 2008
05:51 AM

Dont know bout 'balls of steels'. I find myself as a drama queen with a very weak heart who cries in cilema halls and laugh out loudly. ButI am no more aplogetic. And I think gradually one can overcome from the so called stigma and marginalisation . After all there is only one life, and we cannot honestly be apologetic about being gay. I think hypocricy comes when we know that we are gay and live it and pretend we donot. Ofcourse all of us have elements of hypocricy in us. If not sexuality then of class/ caste or gender. No one is holier than others. So lets live with our litlle hypocricies. But lets not forget to celebrate and scream 'we are gay' whenever needed/ possible. Love. Tarun

#6
sm
January 28, 2008
07:56 AM

I don't think you're necessarily a hypocrite for experiencing a hesitation in actually having to practice what you have been preaching. It is a common experience to many. What is important is that you were able to reflect on it and overcome the hesitation.

But I am more interested in knowing why you associate this case of a transsexual with homosexuality. The two are quite different phenomena and occupy different places in the sexuality spectrum. That is, Aparna did not become Ajay because she had latent or overt homosexual attraction to other women. She felt that she was really a man in a woman's body, and took steps to make her physical gender coincide with her mental gender. If now, as a man, Ajay is attracted to women, it does not mean that Aparna was a lesbian. If she was, she would not have bothered to change her physical gender.

#7
Saakshi O. Juneja
URL
January 28, 2008
08:33 AM

Dear Sm,
In a broader sense, the word "Homosexuality" refers to all those who defy gender roles assigned to them by birth. Yes, I could have also used terms such as "Queer" or "LGBT" but that doesn't mean by using the term "Homosexual" I am not being politically correct.

Agreed the two occupy different places in the Queer World (Gay Culture) but the reason I choose associate the two is the fact that the two sub-communities face the same core problem and that is - rejection by the (Indian) society - thereby resulting in "no right to ones's sexual choices". And since all of my posts till date have been centered on the above mentioned core issue, this was another reason as to why I decided to link the two together, yet again.

As for the reason why Aparna choose to become Ajay - well not all cases are as clear-cut as one may think them to be. The Lesbian community in itself includes many other sub-categories, each with their own unique identities and therefore this complicates one's assessment of a case even further.

#8
smallsquirrel
January 28, 2008
10:06 AM

saakshi... I liked your piece, but the term homosexual does not cover all people who defy traditional gender roles, as you have stated

what sm was trying to get as is this. say I am born in a woman's body but I identify male. I get gender reassignment surgery to become a male so that my outsides match who I feel I really am on the inside. technically, if I then date women, I am not gay. I am a transexual. If I date men, I am a gay transexual.

if you talk to people who have had gender reassignment surgery they will confirm this for you.

I do agree that many people face the same social stigma, and also many of the same issues.

Its like the point I have been trying to make about hijras. becoming a hijra is one of the few options for gay men in India (although this is slowly changing).. but for a lot of men this is NOT a great option. Most gay men want to be in a relationship with a man AS A MAN... not as a eunuch or dressed like a woman. (I am not criticizing those who want those options, I am just saying that many might not want it)

for young boys, especially in villages or small towns, once they show effeminate traits they are sent off or forced out to join groups of hijras in large cities.

#9
lomi
January 28, 2008
12:39 PM

Wat abt ur opinion sakshi? U think it counts. Its only ur assets (wealth, plzzz don think otherwise) tat counts. Not ur words. Go as a beggar and even if u have the best of points, people will spit at u. If u still have doubts then u need to introspect urself a lot harder.

#10
lomi
January 28, 2008
01:08 PM

Mr Editor,
before u edit anything and act like a pim*. This was a personal essay and how else u wanna address this issue.

#11
smallsquirrel
January 28, 2008
01:28 PM

lomi... what drugs are you taking? nothing you have written makes a damned lick of sense! I cannot find one point that relates to what was written here.

#12
Gulshan
January 28, 2008
03:32 PM

Being a part of the heterosexual community, I found your post very encouraging when it comes to not hiding one's inhibitions. Believe me when I say many of have experienced what you mentioned and so we can relate to it in many ways.

The bottom line is such incidents give us opportunities to re-think our own mindset and make improvements where necessary.

Thank you for another great post.

#13
commonsense
January 28, 2008
05:32 PM

Saakshi,

While many of us try to live up to what we preach, none of us is perfect. So, cut back on that feeling about being a "hypocrite". Most of us have been there; but as someone else has pointed out, the important thing is to reflect on the situation and learn from it...

#14
temporal
URL
January 28, 2008
06:40 PM

saks:

hypocrite? no!

but

YOU should not be staring at the fellow!


khair, came across a new word for lesbians - gayelle

:)

sounds nice ... gays and gayelles

#15
Priya Shah
January 29, 2008
01:21 PM

A very thought provoking post. Saks,keep up the good work.

#16
blokesablogin
February 1, 2008
01:27 AM

that is how I felt when watching the Vagina Monologues and then came the letting go! Actually it was so easy, once I just let go of all judgements! Awesome job Saakshi.

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