Not so long ago, people on Twitter were shocked, bemused, angry and disgusted, all at the same time, when they were greeted by an image of circumcised male genitalia on their Twitter feed thanks to ’eminent journalist’ Barkha Dutt. Now that the storm over it has died down, it is perhaps time to analyse the events and phenomena surrounding it.
When Barkha Dutt shared the d*ck pick, what amused, annoyed and angered people in equal measure was the fact that Barkha somehow blamed it on nationalism. According to her, the obscene picture was sent to her in the name of nationalism. There was absolutely nothing in the image, which contained only the male organ, to remotely suggest that it had anything to do with nationalism at all. However, Barkha, in her infinite wisdom, did not appear to hesitate to link it to the ‘ism’ she appears to have the most disdain for.
People have put that whole morbid episode behind them by now. However, there is a deeper issue at hand here. We ought to ask ourselves here if the political climate of the country is such that people are willing to politicize a d*ck pick, what else would they be willing to politicize? We ought to ask ourselves, how did we end up in a situation where people are willing to politicize a d*ck pic, a bloody d*ck pic of all things.
When we look back, we will find that d*ck pics are only the latest in a long list of things that have been politicized which, on the face of it, have nothing to do with politics at all. If we look at society, Friendships, Romance, entertainment, every facet of our lives has been scarred by politics. And it has been a gradual progression, matters escalating with every passing day.
Initially, it began with how we evaluated public policy. How many times have we found ourselves defending a policy merely because the politicians we prefer were backing it? How often have we found ourselves obsessively critiquing a policy decision merely because it was proposed by a political entity we are averse to?
Things have reached a point where we cannot evaluate the policy on its own merit. The debates around any policy are tainted with political partisanship. I want to be clear, I am not pointing my fingers at any particular political faction here. Fueling political partisanship is not the objective of this article. Again, I want to ask my readers, how did we get here?
In a previous article, I had elaborated on the fundamental flaws of Democracy. In this article, again, I argue that the politicization of every single aspect of our lives is the inevitable consequence of democracy. Democratic politics thrives on dividing people along various lines. Thus far, Indians, and primarily Hindus, have been divided along the lines of caste, class, creed, region, language and even food choices. Now, due to various aspects of modernity, numerous factors are being added into the equation.
Let me add a clarification here. Barkha Dutt is not the first person to politicize the phallus. Feminism, at its very core, is politics over genitalia. Nor is Barkha Dutt the first person to associate penises with nationalism. Academics in the West have long argued for the intimate links between Toxic Masculinity and Nationalism. However, the now infamous alleged journalist quite probably has earned herself the distinction of being the first person to associate d*ck pics with Nationalism. In many ways, it’s even worse than the ‘All Men Are Trash’ narrative.
It will be hard for any of us to imagine a single aspect of our life that has not been politicized. Even prostitutes have ended up being victims of this highly politicized climate. Under normal circumstances, prostitutes are the last people who could be expected to be affected by politics. But such are the times we live in. The incident I am referring to happened in the United States when ‘Incels’ (Involuntary Celibates), that is, people who cannot ‘get laid’ in colloquial terms despite having the desire to went after ‘Online Thots’ who earned money by engaging in nudity and sexually provocative behaviour online. The allegations were that these ‘Thots’ were not paying taxes and the organized campaign against them was called #ThotPatrol.
Therefore, it’s quite amusing when people bemoan the politicization of national security and military operations like Surgical Strikes. We are quite obviously missing the forest for the trees here. These events are meant to be politicized and their politicization ought not to concern us too much. However, we aren’t paying sufficient attention to politicization of things which really ought to concern us.
Take, for instance, the politicization of sexual assault and harassment allegations. Certain quarters have attempted to use such allegations to achieve political ends. Take the events during the US Presidential Elections, people believed them or discarded them based on their political inclinations. Not many people bothered to actually evaluate the evidence at hand and make informed decisions. The overwhelming majority of people made their decision based on their political opinions. If we permit politics to determine our assessment of sexual assault allegations, then surely, we have hit the bottom of the pit.
Entire fields of Academia have been hijacked and subverted by political dogma. Mental health professions are dubbing people mentally unfit for public office without performing any psychological tests on the individuals concerned. Efforts are also underway to classify an entire brand of political opinion as a symptom of underlying psychological issues. These are things which ought to concern us all.
Entertainment is one aspect of life that has perhaps been most affected. Movie reviewers now blame people of a particular political dispensation for a movie they enjoyed getting bad reviews from people. Celebrities have imposed themselves on political discourse. More than that, an increasing number of movies are getting released across the world which is blatant propaganda aimed at politicizing issues that ought not to be politicized.
The most devastating impact on society, however, has been the politicization of gender and biological sex. For thousands of years of human civilization, it has been a known and accepted fact that there are only two genders. Scientifically speaking, it’s still accepted that there are only two genders. However, we have an entire brand of politics, which has complete acceptance across Western Europe and among one of the two major parties in the United States and the largest opposition party in India, that is based on the negation of a property as fundamental as biological sex.
The consequence of the above brand of politics has been permitting hormone blockers for children as young as 7 years old to prevent the normal development of puberty based on subjective feelings of the child at the time. It is ruining the lives of little children. Another consequence of it has been the regular efforts at normalization of paedophilia, perhaps the most heinous crime imaginable.
Public Health hasn’t been left untouched either. ‘Body Positivity’ is apparently a movement now. On the face of it, there appears to be nothing wrong with urging people to feel comfortable in their own skin. However, in its disguise, morbid obesity is being normalized and should you disagree with it, you shall be labelled a ‘fat-phobic misogynistic pig’ or worse. Fat Acceptance is actually a huge movement in the West. Could we imagine any other political setup under which people would be politicizing obesity and politicking for its normalization?
If people believe obesity is the most unimaginable thing to have been politicized, well, you may be in for a surprise. Great political battles have been fought in recent times over Body Hair and gender-specific toilets. Air conditioning and subjects like Mathematics and Grammar have been politicized as well. The Gods up there surely have a very weird sense of humour.
Thus, more than the politicization of national security or military operations, these are the things which ought to concern us all. The politicization of a d*ck pick was but only the natural culmination of a series of events and we have not reached the end of the road when it comes to politicizing matters. Only the Gods know the things which will be politicized in the next 10 years.
As bad as things are in India, the situation in the United States is even worse. People have divorced, broken up, cut off their friends and family over their personal preferences in the Presidential Elections in 2016. These are not exaggerations, these things have actually happened.
When we think of Democracy, we imagine it to be the manifestation of the highest human ideals. We imagine great intellectual debates over public policy and related matters. We imagine the victory of human rights and individual liberty. In reality, however, there are booth captures and people killing each other mindlessly over political differences. We have state governments refusing to cooperate with the central government for mere politics. We have endless chaos and division of society along multiple identitarian lines. And eventually, the anticipation of the manifestation of the highest form of human ingenuity devolves into politics over obesity, body hair, genitalia and who gets to enter which toilets.
Therefore, all of us need to take a deep breath and introspect on the course we have set ourselves upon. Currently, it’s a runaway train and we have no idea how to get off it. We need to set our differences aside, everyone across all sections of the political spectrum, and deliberate upon the measures we could take to avoid what appears to be a pending unmitigated disaster. We are on a highway to hell and the only way this ends is in a catastrophe.