About 10 days ago, I had written about a bloke I met at an ashram in Kerala. The incident didn’t precisely shake me, but it did leave me feeling incredibly sad. The reason is simple: the poor chap is so heavily influenced by Indian cinema, he expected his clumsy declaration to actually work. So I was thinking about the system of ills and disinformation that led a boy to this point.
First: The ridiculous morality that makes sex out to be a bad thing. It isn’t; it a natural phenomenon, fundamental to the creation of the next generation. Also, it is a whole lot of fun. If parents were more open to discussing sex with their children, there would significantly less misinformation about it. Teenagers wouldn’t hear half-truths from peers and end up with skewed notions. There wouldn’t be so much failed experimentation, and heartache.
Second: Following on from my first point, there is a broad spectrum of sexuality, which is absolutely all right. The important factor is consent. Consent is only possible between two adults, who are fully aware of what they are consenting to, and in no way under duress to decide one way or another. It is as simple as that.
Third: Segregation of girls and boys from puberty onwards. This one hits home particularly, because it affected me as a child. I grew up with no siblings, and therefore essentially no contact with boys. I was in an Arab country, with Muslim laws about segregation. The ensuing awkwardness was palpable, and severely heightened from the normal. Girls and boys grow up thinking of the other gender as carriers of the opposite sex organs, rather than actual people. It is ridiculous and infuriating.
Fourth: Distillation of the above into movies. Much as I love movies, I am aware that they do not always portray reality faithfully. A typical trope in romantic Bollywood movies is a guy falling headlong in love with a girl he sees once. He makes a move, not a bawdy one of course, and she sneers at him and walks off. He bursts into song, and basically irritates his way into her heart. It is all very amusing for logical people who know this isn’t real, but for boys who have never interacted with girls their own age? They have no frame of reference.
I did tell lover boy that it wasn’t love he felt for me. It was attraction. And yes, attraction is a very solid starting point. However, it is just a starting point. Sending me message upon message of lovelorn pleas is not going to change the fact that I do not share his attraction, firstly, and secondly, I was disinclined to let it go any further.
I know that he has been subject to much conditioning, and so I tried to explain things gently. But alas, he refused to understand. The fairytale is so much more alluring that prosaic fact. It is so sad, because really falling in love is a beautiful, tempestuous feeling.