Chilean Youth, Democracy, and Sexual Liberation

September 15, 2008

A “sexual revolution” has found fertile soil in post-Pinochet Chile (image courtesy of Tomas Munita)

Long the bastion of conservative social mores, Chile is undergoing a rapid transformation that is being spearheaded by its youth as they engage in a sexual revolution reminiscent of the USA during the 1960s. Viewing themselves as “the children of democracy and not dictatorship”, Chilean teenagers are taking advantage of the freedoms accorded them in the post-Pinochet era. Alexei Barrionuevo explains:

“Chile’s youth are clearly having sex earlier and testing the borderlines with their sexual conduct,” said Dr. Ramiro Molina, director of the University of Chile’s Center for Adolescent Reproductive Medicine and Development.

The sexual awakening is happening through a booming industry for 18-and-under parties, an explosion of Internet connectivity and through Web sites like Fotolog, where young people trade suggestive photos of each other and organize weekend parties, some of which have drawn more than 4,500 teenagers. The online networks have emboldened teenagers to express themselves in ways that were never customary in Chile’s conservative society.

“We are not the children of the dictatorship; we are the children of democracy,” said Michele Bravo, 17, at a recent afternoon party. “There is much more of a rebellious spirit among young people today. There is much more freedom to explore everything.”

Politics is tied into the personal here as the old dictatorship crumbled and along with it Chile’s social conservatism. When borders are opened up it only becomes natural to see what is on the other side. The “grass is greener over there” syndrome becomes a prevalent view as individuals take part in these new freedoms previously denied them by rigid social mores. But to what end? America’s experiment with “free love” saw the rise of STDs, teen pregnancies, rising divorce rates, and broken families. Sexual liberation also brought what some consider to be a “slave to the libido” mentality and the rise of raunch culture. Explorations of new freedoms don’t necessarily denote a victory of sorts as the American example attests to. Hopefully Chile can cope with this new openness without the social ramifications felt elsewhere by those who engaged in the same “revolution”.

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The Cartoon Woman Shaking Up India

September 13, 2008

Savita Bhabhi is the Queen Vixen of the Subcontinent

Westerners who have never traveled to India were given a sample of how strict the country’s public obscenity laws are when an Indian judge handed out arrest warrants for Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty after Gere publicly kissed her at an HIV/AIDS awareness event. As a testament to India’s social conservatism, crowds torched effigies of Richard Gere in several cities. As it stands now, India’s Supreme Court has suspended the case pending jurisdictional issues relating to the case.

The Subcontinent hasn’t always been this conservative when it comes to matters sexual. One need only look to ancient history and the Kama Sutra written in the Sanskrit language to see that they didn’t always have such negative responses to portrayals of romantic or sexual themes in public.

Now a cartoon woman is shaking up India’s conservative mores. She goes by the name of Savita Bhabhi (where ‘Bhabhi’ means sister-in-law in Hindi) and stars as a bored housewife who has sexual adventures with all sorts of characters that come into her life ranging from a bra salesman to a cricket player. The cartoon is currently under review by Indian cyberpolice for fears that it might break the draconian indecency laws in the country.

The Independent UK takes a close look at this explosive cartoon in Cyber Sutra: India’s online eroticism. Here’s an excerpt:

Savita Bhabhi is a busty and artfully drawn Indian housewife who loves her husband, Ashok Patel, but gets bored during the long days she spends alone at home while he is busy at the office. The full colour cartoons detail her fun-filled adventures with everyone from the door-to-door lingerie salesman (“Can you help me please… The hook is stuck.”) to two energetic young men who lose their cricket ball in her garden and a hunky cousin visiting from the US. In every episode, Savita’s bountiful charms and washboard-flat abdomen ensure she always snares her target.

click here to read the rest of the article

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Infidelity in the Digital Age

September 11, 2008

Does internet porn qualify as cheating?

A running theme at Vodka/Soda Magazine is how technology has been trumpeted as an inherent good but always turns out differently than first imagined by the creators and standard bearers of that technology.

The internet was created as a form of communication that would be safe from foreign ears and it then morphed into things such as the world wide web, e-commerce, and web 2.0. The internet has also changed how we communicate. It has allowed us to communicate faster, better, and in many new forms from uploading videos to YouTube to chatting on MSN Messenger. It has changed the dynamic of our personal communications as emails have largely replaced “snail mail” and especially in how virtual worlds have been created with virtual communities of people who have never physically met in person.

With this shift in the paradigm of communications, new problems arise. For instance, is a harmless flirtation with someone you’ve met in a chatroom sincerely harmless? The two people may never have been in the same room and may never have actually spoken to one another, but nevertheless it does affect the integrity of their real life relationships should they have a significant other.

This new form of communication begs the question: how real are virtual worlds online? The virtual world is more real than the imagination, but less real than what is termed “the meatspace”. Imagining sexual dalliances is not considered cheating by anyone but the most rigid of moralists but sexual innuendo online or “cybersex” certainly does cross a line. The real question therefore must be: Is pornography adultery? Ross Douthat tries to answer that question in this month’s The Atlantic Monthly. Here’s an excerpt:

A second perspective treats porn as a kind of gateway drug—a vice that paves the way for more-serious betrayals. A 2004 study found that married individuals who cheated on their spouses were three times as likely to have used Internet pornography as married people who hadn’t committed adultery. In Tom Perrotta’s bestselling Little Children, the female protagonist’s husband—who is himself being cuckolded—progresses from obsessing over an online porn star named “Slutty Kay” to sending away for her panties to joining a club of fans who pay to vacation with her in person. Brink ley’s husband may have followed a similar trajectory, along with many of the other porn-happy celebrity spouses who’ve featured in the gossip pages and divorce courts lately.

click here to read the article in its entirety

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The Happy Sexless Marriage

September 8, 2008

Paul Cox and wife
Paul Cox has found his asexual soulmate

Our liberal society has no hesitation in pointing out that sexual relations is central to mature relationships, especially marriage. In much of the western world, a marriage contract is not binding until the act of consummation occurs. Failure to do so in the Roman Catholic faith is grounds for an annulment. So tied up in the idea of marriage is sex that the thought of no sex within a marriage automatically leads to the idea that the relationship has failed.

Can a sexless marriage be a happy marriage? Paul Cox emphatically replies that “yes, it can!”, especially when both individuals are asexuals. Read about his happy relationship in We’re Married, We Just Don’t Have Sex”:

One day I got an email from Amanda. She was asexual, living close by, and offered to show me around the neighbourhood. In case she was cruising for an asexual boyfriend, I responded with a warning that I was “vehemently anti-romantic”. But we met up anyway, for tea and ice-skating, and we took to meeting a lot.

I loved Amanda’s attitude to life and enjoyed hanging out with her. And she was pretty. At first I tried to treat it like any other friendship. Then I found myself travelling four miles downtown to deliver sandwiches when she told me she was hungry. Two months in, we were at a gig and it seemed like a good idea to hold her hand. I felt cautious about it but just wanted to. I wondered if I could. Then I found I couldn’t let go.

That evening ended with us agreeing that our friendship was an important thing. We wanted to commit for life. In the asexual community we don’t form relationships lightly. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with a person, there’s no reason to make such a special commitment.

read the rest of the article here

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