From Disturbed Conjugality to Consumptionist Football


Not just yet another news item. The New Leam evolves a way of seeing, and reflects on the mood of our times.

Love, Sex and the Rhythm of Conjugality

Once again we witness the interventionist Court and declining ethical fabric of everyday living. Our degeneration is almost complete, and today the judiciary has to intervene, and define the meaning of marriage and conjugality. The other day the Delhi High Court (a bench of acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Harishankar) reminded us that “marriage does not mean that a woman is ready and willing to submit herself for sexual act of her husband.”

Our contention is not to diminish the significance of the observations made by the Court. In fact, in a patriarchal society like ours with its mythology of ‘arranged marriages’ we often witness the powerlessness of women; marriage, it seems, is a societal compulsion; and in that negotiation everything is taken into account–from the girl’s ‘physical beauty’ to the boy’s socio-economic status; but ironically what is seldom considered is whether their wavelengths converge. Love is secondary; economic ‘security’ is primary.

No wonder, for many women, marriage is also a bondage – economically dependent women confined to the ‘domestic cage’ without creative agency. Under these circumstances, even the rhythm of intimacy gets reduced into a dull routine – the all-powerful husband’s desire to possess, control and fulfill himself. Hence, what the Court has said is not wrong.

However, it is important to realize that if as humans we lose the nuanced mode of living implicit in conjugal relationships, and depend on the Court to dictate how husband and wife would live, it doesn’t indicate our moral progress. Gandhi with his characteristic wisdom and profound simplicity reminded us of the danger of external authorities contributing further to the decline of ‘soul force’ each of us in an enriched community ought to be endowed with. 

It is really sad that these days we have to rely on the impartial Court to know how we should live, and look at sex, love and conjugality. The Court’s power is our powerlessness.

Is it possible to enrich us, and crate a culture of living that reduces the significance of the Court in decidding the meaning of conjugality? We must strive for that. This means the ability to experience conjugality as a rhythmic song, a mode of relationship capable of living, sharing and coping with the riddles of existence with patience and understanding and ethic of care. This is love. When there is no dearth of love, even physical intimacy becomes a poem–not the masculinist desire to posses one’s wife as a ‘sex object’. Love, symmetrical reciprocity and deep care transform sexuality from a mere ‘instinct’ to a spiritual touch. The body becomes the temple of love–the love that heals, cares and composes the music of life.

Is it that we have lost everything as men and women, and even the conjugal relationship has to  be reduced into a legal/technical discourse? 

Consumers or Active Doers?

The World Cup Football is over. And we ate, drank and consumed football–its thrill and excitement, its flow of money, its stardom and construction of masculinity associated with speed and killer instinct. We talked about the politics of football – its concealed nationalism, its Eurocentric technicality, and the marginality of Asian teams. With the all-pervading culture industry – television commentaries, newspaper reports, fashion, gossip, mythology, and constant dissemination of images and visuals – the World Cup football was present everywhere. We loved to consume it.

However, it is important to ask whether this consumption of the football excitement has already deprived us of the experience of a truly participatory culture of games and sports. Think of the urban space, and the mode of growing up of young children in the age of gadgets and technological miracles.

The process of reckless ‘development’, the tyranny of the real estate mafia, and the crudely utilitarian orientation to space – the politics of our times has made it difficult for our children to find open/green space for play–play with abundance and joy. The shrinking of the space is also associated with two other negative factors

(a) The constraint of time because of schooling, coaching centres and private tutors; and

(b) The obsessive indulgence with the gadgets – computer games, smart phones, Facebook and inevitable retreat from the face-to face active communitarian interaction. Seldom do our children get time and space to come to a vast green field, play unconditionally, relax their muscles, and feel the the ecstasy of running with the football.

Well, for a tiny section – essentially the children of the affluent – there is a  specialized football/cricket academic, an industry of heavily priced sports shoes and other material. It is a profession, or a ‘creative hobby’ reserved for the children of the privileged. However, for the majority of our children, there is no space for creative play, non-professional/non-utilitarian participation in collective ecstasy. This passivity makes us consumers. We do not create. We consume.

Hence, for us, football is not something that we create everyday; it is a spectacle, a commodity, a brand, a product of culture industry we consume.

For a month keep guessing about Brazil and France, Ronaldo and Messi. And then, come back to your dull/routinized living–oppressive schools, coaching centres, smart phones, hyper-reality in isolation. Is it the destiny of the youth?