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Sex sells, and sells best

 | January 4, 2013

Media assessments can be way off the mark, telling us something that can be way off the truth.


Often, Indian magazines and newspapers carry out surveys of people’s sexual preferences, habits and fantasies. The studies can be about homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders and virgins among others.

Invariably, these findings are sensational with headlines that cry for attention. They are meant to do so. For, the main purpose is to boost a sagging circulation. Not quite to disseminate information.

Recently, an Indian English language magazine, Outlook, published the findings of a sex survey, and as was to be expected, had mind-blowing revelations to make.

Here are some of the questions the weekly asked its select respondents. How important is sex? How was your first sexual encounter? How many sexual partners have you had? How important is virginity? What do you think about pre-marital sex? What is your ultimate sexual fantasy? What about incest? Homosexuality?

I have always wondered how true the answers are. In studies such as these, many men and women says things which they do not mean, but are meant to sound exciting, even titillating, and project them as sexually liberated.

And more pertinently, are such surveys really representative of a country like India, deeply divided by caste, religion and economic disparity. Those who live in villages think very differently from those whose homes are in cities. There could be attitudinal differences even between those living in bigger and smaller cities.

So, when a man says virginity in a woman is not important, this can very specific to the place where he grew up or is living. His views can also be guided by his social conditioning. A man from a conservative household will tend to think differently from one who grew up in a liberal atmosphere.

So, these media assessments can be way off the mark, telling us something that can be way off the truth.

Sex obsession

However, beyond these media evaluations, there lies an undeniable fact. An average Indian is obsessed with sex. The leading filmmaker, Girish Kasaravalli, once told me that men and women in India are always thinking about sex. It is in between their ears, not between their legs!

So, it is not surprising that magazines regularly run sex surveys, advertisements have skimpily clad girls selling cars or tyres, a heroine in a film will lie on the bonnet of her boss’ car trying to seduce him into granting her a favour, that dancers do suggestive numbers and so on.

Sex sells all over the world. No doubt. But in India, it is probably the hottest cake. Nothing attracts more than sex here, and with the result that one is bombarded with sexual imagery every day.

Kingfisher Airlines may have shut shop and gone bust, but it did not flinch from spending pots of money to bring out its annual calendar of swimsuit babes.

For months, a pornographic cartoon script had appeared on the net. Here is what it was all about according to Wikipedia: “Savita Bhabhi is an Indian pornographic cartoon character and has earned recognition as India’s first porn star. The character named Savita is depicted as an attractive promiscuous housewife who is ignored by her husband and who engages in sexual adventures.

“The suffix bhabhi means sister-in-law in the Hindi language”.

The character initially appeared in a freely available comic strip at savitabhabhi.com. It has since been converted into a subscription-based strip owned by kirtu.com. And I am told it is still doing very well.

And why not? Sex sells, and many, many are riding on it to make a fast buck.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at [email protected]. He is an FMT columnist.


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