An open letter to Radhika Mehta
We are unlikely to ever meet since my reading list doesn’t usually include Indian best-sellers. Don’t take it personally—I haven’t even read Dale Carnegie and Paulo Coelho, those perennial chartbusters. I want to personally thank you for letting India in on the sisterhood of super sluts. You popped up on my Twitter timeline when someone was outraged by what you apparently said: “How can a girl admit she’s thinking about kissing? Isn’t that what super sluts do?”
I’m writing to tell you that your worry about being a super slut resulted in a eureka moment for me. Forget save the girl child campaigns, India needs a super slut revolution. Something along the lines of Beti Bachao, SS Doctrine Padhao. The future belongs to us and political parties should please take note: Super sluts will be a vote bank before you know it and platitudes about “women’s safety” will no longer be enough to win you an election.
I know you have heard of SlutWalk, Radhika. Or was your creator Chetan Bhagat so busy researching waxing and oral sex in an attempt to feel like a woman that he forgot to do his homework on this popular global protest movement against rape culture?
If anyone can save our girls, it’s home-grown super sluts. We have broken the shackles of a society that kills, maims, abuses us every day. Already down 929 women to every 1,000 men, we know being a super slut is serious business.
We are clear the violence against us has nothing to do with the way we dress or the way we walk or the way we slurp our chowmein. We work before, after and despite marriage—and we expect equal wages.
We marry for love or may choose not to get married. We don’t worry about what people will think every time we do something that’s not the norm. We love our daughters as much as our sons. We will ensure our girls don’t grow up helpless and our boys entitled. We may or may not know how to roll a chapati—either way it doesn’t matter and it certainly doesn’t define our personality. We are not an either/or species (girlfriend/wife, party girl/homely, cook/career girl, good/bad—strike that, we are definitely bad).
We reclaim public spaces, wielding our weapons of mass destruction: cellphones and jeans (not the loose-fit Patanjali brand). We don’t wear jeans because they are a “Western concept”; they are just our regulation, practical super slut uniform as we go about saving India from herself. Besides, they certainly provide more protection than cotton salwars when strangers rub their penis against us in public transport.
Some of us super sluts find it easier to break the rules. The rest of us just subvert them. When Mint Lounge fashion editor Shefalee Vasudev went to Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, in 2014 after a local body in that state ruled that girls should not wear jeans, she found that jeans were popular as an Indian-wear separate, usually paired with tops or kurtis. “By doing so, the girls show their unwillingness to listen to parental instructions to resist fashion even if they are seemingly conforming to diktats on dressing,” she wrote.
We fight the body consciousness embedded in our upbringing, however liberal. We try to walk straight instead of slouching. We look at the person we are addressing, not at the floor, when we talk. We wear bikinis and anything else we want—for ourselves. We don’t give anyone the right to tell us how to wear our hair or how to drape a sari or at what volume we may conduct a conversation. We are comfortable discussing menstruation. We can’t help wondering how anyone would even know if we went to the temple when we had our period?
We determinedly preach the gospel of consent. We’re happy to explain the difference between no and yes please. We expect to feel pleasure when we have sex. We expect the experience to last more than 2 minutes. We want marital rape to be a crime. We are not scared of the dark. And even if we are, we certainly won’t let on.
But you probably know all this, Radhika. So thanks again for introducing Indians to super sluts. Because who wades through rants from real life super sluts except the poor readers of Mint Lounge? So many more people will hear of our breed now, thanks to you.
Since I’m feeling happy, let me give you a little life advice. You’re right about super sluts and kissing. We never miss an opportunity to kiss, be kissed and whatever else might follow. As someone who is two decades older than you, Radhika, I must tell you that it’s brilliant fun to look back on life’s kissing roller coaster.
If you’re a romantic like me, every amazing (and awful) kiss has its own soundtrack. One of my worst kisses was set to the beautiful Jalta Hai Badan from Razia Sultan. I was translating the lyrics for him and one thing led to another. Temperatures didn’t even rise a couple of degrees. No bodies were aflame that evening, alas.
Anyway, gotta go. I hope I have inspired One Indian Girl to join the ranks of super sluts.
Priya Ramani shares what’s making her feel angsty/agreeable. She tweets at @priyaramani and posts on Instagram as babyjaanramani. Read Priya’s Mint Lounge columns here