Let's kiss the stereotypes goodbye

Yesterday, this paper ran an extensive report about ‘mystery’ pictures that have surfaced all over Bandra. These are photographs of foreign couples in a clinch, smooching each other. They are centred around the swish Pali Hill area, near Pali Market, inside the subway and other places.

The report titled, ‘The rest as they say is kiss-story’ focused on reactions of residents and passers-by. While several younger people approved of the pictures, there was a fair amount of outrage as well, from locals who felt that the pictures were corrupting young people, especially children, and should be torn down right away.

One is not endorsing pasting posters on public walls, in fact, we have often panned politicians for peppering the city’s walls with illegal hoardings and photographs. However, it is the sentiment that these kissing pictures have evoked that is a real concern. It is laughable that so many attribute this kissing, a public display of affection, to Western culture and express alarm at how we are getting corrupted by it.

Why blame Western culture for everything? Even though those couples in the pictures are Caucasian, are people trying to say that Indians do not kiss? Or should not do so? Maybe they have a concern with kissing in public. Yet, to put this at the feet of Western culture, is using an old, tired and baseless argument.

It is the so-clichéd ‘everything Western is immoral, while desi, traditional is good’ stereotype. It is time to get over this kind of trite and backward thinking.

We live in a society where hypocrisy is rife, sex is talked about in stilted whispers, stereotypes about ‘loose’ women abound and there are black-and-white perceptions about good girls and bad girls.

It is time to get ride of this ridiculous and infantile preoccupation with Western culture poisoning our youth. Kissing, even in public, is not the absolute evil it is made out to be. As for the wild and wicked West, that is more convenient fiction than reality.

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