That people cheat on their spouses is nothing new.
But that does not mean we promote cheating.
While some of us ordinary people are still discussing early vs. delayed marriage as a healthy way of keeping a society together, and dealing with emotional, physical and psychological needs of a human beings without ending up with a society that is socially chaotic, some of the mahanubhavas of modernity have already moved to post-marriage cheating (for example here), as a way of, guess what? ‘Being independent, and satisfying one’s bodily needs.’, thereby placing sexual and emotional needs linked with sexuality —above all others. The problem of course is in understanding. Emotional needs have a wide range and are not fulfilled only by a spouse or a sexual partner, by many people throughout our lives- parents, friends, family, colleagues and even the neighborhood sabzi wali or our hair dresser who listens to our woes now and then. The wider the range of people who fulfill our emotional needs, the more secure, stable and happy is our life. One behaves as our parent and evokes a child in us, other evokes a parent.
This article is a point to point response/reflection on the article titled, ‘Why Indian women cheating more is actually a good thing‘. And some references will be made to another article promoting degeneracy, titled ‘I was a married woman once and I don’t regret cheating on my husband’. Put together, these articles are a specific kind of thinking that holds one aspect of life much higher than others. They are written from an understanding that an individual functioning in their own interest, as in the case of extra marital affair, is not harming anyone. The classic individual vs. society debate. However, the rationale used to explain and justify such behavior is flawed.
Beginning with the article by SREEMOYEE PIU KUNDU, (Why Indian women cheating more is actually a good thing), we summarize its main points, and refute/provide reflection on what is being implied.
Points/Implications 1: Married men propose to younger (preferably single) women.
Our Comments: Nothing new, not right, but it happens. Mainly, indicates the difference between male and female nature. Even in animal kingdom, it is mostly the male that does the mating dance. Does that call for or justify women cheating? Especially when nature of women is different. Women, even research suggests, look for emotional intimacy more than physical intimacy. The latter is contingent upon the former. So, while they can be initiated by women, affairs are in the long run harmful for them.
Points/Implications 2: Ashley Madison’s presence and its terms and conditions (privacy, confidentiality to its users) imply that this phenomenon is not just widespread or rampant, but actually a ‘norm’ lurking behind ‘societal norms’ and mores to express itself.
Our Comments: First, this is the problem with social science, it looks at numbers, and how large or small they are without understanding how statistics are to be used, what does it mean to have a representative sample, why is it important to not only have methodology properly explained, but the need for replication of studies to establish any idea of ‘truth or even a pattern’. Not to mention that studies done in one context cannot and should not be applied to another. The fact that global values have been imposed via media for the last century should be considered. It is a fact the as families disintegrate, which happened long ago in the west, media of all forms has been the educator of values, rather than parents, family members and teachers. And media’s values converge at going as low as possible to maximize its profit. And more importantly, it is critical to recognize that changes in society are not always linear. And not all newness is good, just as not ‘old ideas’ are viable.
Points/Implications 3: A study for 2013 is quoted to establish or forward a theory that 40% of marriages had one or both spouses admitting to either physical or emotional infidelity. The idea definitely is to imply that this is normal and more people than not, are cheating on their spouses. Btw, 40% is not even half, so, still a small number of population.
Our Comments: For initial comments refer to our comments on Point 2 above. And then, please spare us the details of these studies that are never clear about their methodology and never emphasize that their studies cannot be applied world wide or for all times.More importantly, it is always important to remember that trends are just trends. That they fluctuate, they go back to was before—always. Because these mahanubhavas, who write such articles are usually thinking in terms of a world with a short history—and that societal changes are linear. Btw, how many people in India even have internet to actually register on Ashley Madison? And isn’t you sample already biased from the population because it will be only the degenerates who will register on such websites first. Furthermore, just because a few thousand people state something does not make it a norm. And for those interested there are enough studies on why affairs are damaging to emotional health, especially women. And, that those who divorce, with the exception of physically abusive marriages, are not necessarily happier than before divorcing or cheating on their spouses. And the emotional impact on men is more adverse compared to women, since the latter are not as emotionally strong as the former (again if we were to study the way nature designed us, we might be more enlightened about such issues).
Points/Implications 4: And how could they leave out the Sita when talking about fidelity/infidelity. So, the word ‘Sitahood’ is thrown out there as being derogatory.
Our Comments: A simple question, what is a woman seeking through her affair? Emotional intimacy, physical intimacy, right? And in the words of the author ‘At the heart of it all, is desire. Someone who tells you that you’re the greatest thing and wants to spend his life with you. Now they don’t even want to look at you, touch you, talk to you. But you have economic stability — a home, kids, family. You don’t want to walk away from it just because you feel less desired…” People think, “I’ll just put myself out there in an anonymous way.” They want to rekindle that object of desire. You’ll often find women seeking this attention by Facebooking past lovers. They want to rekindle that object of desire.¨ And rather than open up to the partner or take responsibility for her own actions, she does so through an affair.
She has social security, respect, and stability in society- that single women do not enjoy, but we are to uphold her choices because she caters to her lowest kind of needs.
One of the problem with such stories and analysis is that they place too much importance on physical intimacy without understanding that emotional and physical intimacy go hand in hand. The main organs in this satisfaction are our brain and heart. Not private parts. Affairs with their secrecy and stress that they come with just do not compensate for a bad marriage. Another problem is that these articles are usually written from a woman’s perspective as if a woman is never non-responsive to her husband and that a man can feel just as stifled in a marriage. A Clear case of ‘desire without responsibility’ whether that desire is for social stability or satisfying bodily urges. But most importantly, ‘There is no accountability!’ Why an affair, why not break the stable-economically secure relationship, and test the support that a life based purely on sexual satisfaction provides?’
Sita, though often seen as a victim, was very much a master of her choice, she chose desire and companionship of her husband, while Urmila chose to stay away from Lakshman. Sita is very clear about who she loves, wants and respects. No amount of gold from Lanka will change her mind, no amount of wealth and comforts will shift her affections away from her forest dwelling husband. It is not sacrifice when she denies Ravana, it is a very assertive act of declaring that none else but Shri Rama will have her heart, body and soul. Sitahood, then in a true sense must imply a woman of character, strength, and fortitude. A woman who cannot be manipulated, a woman who is willing to renounce her royal life to be with the man she loves and respects. ‘Sitahood’, the essence of being Sita then must always be synonymous with character, substance and a will to assert one’s self, within the context of fidelity and nothing else.
Points/Implications 5: Again a survey by Ashley Madison is used, this time conducted in India, and printed in The Times of India–(surprise –surprise) states that ‘76 per cent of Indian women and 61 per cent of men don’t even consider infidelity as a sin or immoral anymore. Responses were collected from 75,321 respondents – 80 per cent being married – across ten cities. 81 per cent of men and 68 per cent of women confessed that their affairs had a positive impact on their marriage. More than 80 per cent had had arranged marriages. The average age of those surveyed was 45 for men and 31 for women-‘ The article goes on to state that Indian women are now ‘being sexually experimental, taking on younger lovers and even exploring bisexuality and alternate sexual practices like BDSM – making full use of their newfound economic emancipation and working woman status.’
Our Comments: Please, please for the n-th time, spare us this reliance of studies to propagate your degenerate ways. First refer to comments and reflections made about such studies under Point 2 & 3. Next, please ponder on what is said about ‘Not trusting the studies promoting the funder or funder’s ideas.’ Its like Pepsi and Coke conducting a study on harmful effects of milk on children and establish that children should be weaned off breast milk by feeding them cola-colored soft drinks!! That 50,000 women signed up for a site promoting an ‘extra marital affair’ in a country where there are near 500 million women, and in a time when any Tom, Dick and Harry or paid volunteers can sign up for such a site, means zilch!!
Ofcourse, it must be mentioned by Ms Kundu that it was arranged marriage that was the reason for boredom and frustration in a marriage. But we must ask, why would a site like Ashley Madison be popular in the west then? As mentioned earlier there is no recipe for finding emotionally compatible a life partner. Arranged marriage can bring you a long lasting satisfactory marriage just as much as love marriage can vomit back all the love you professed to each other within a few months of marriage–and of course vice-versa. Readers must be reminded that though not everyone believes in it, two of the many things matched in jyotish were sexual and emotional compatibility of the couple. That might have been the reason for long sustained arranged marriages, in many cases, if not all.
While a high economic status’ link with promiscuity (as linked by Ms. Kundu) has some history, the question is not how this economic status facilitates promiscuity but, ‘Are there better uses for this rising economic status?’. The problem is not economics but consciousness. So, probably there is a need to understand the impact of such practices on the emotional states of individuals involved, stability of family and ultimately the society.
Final Comments: The funny part about this article is that it goes against so many ideas of what feminism supposedly stands for ‘you do not need a man to feel appreciated, or beautiful, even if you are 120 kilos.’ And what about being your own woman and owning up to your pent up desires, shedding the security that the man provides you and taking the emotional risk of being alone before you actually start a relationship, or remaining single till you meet the man who will satisfy you physically and emotionally, despite his low socio-economic status?
But, that is not the intent of the article. The intent is simply to establish through stray research that promiscuity is on the rise and that it is the new norm. And that neither should women feel guilty nor be made to question it. It is about taking away the taboo associated with extra marital affairs.
There is a reason why taboos exist. They regulate a society. And remember no society remains without taboos, even the most modern of societies. And no society has been without its shares of hypocrites, ever. And it shall continue. Nature of this world.
In a culture where marriage results supposedly after a passionate affair or a decade long live-in relationship–arranged marriage is looked down upon. But extra marital affairs– no where in the world— are honored or given the same place as a long standing marriage. Even Hillary Clinton, the emissary of feminists chose to stay with her dear Bill despite his transgressions. Instead like a true jealous wife, she tried, quite successfully to destroy Monica Lewinsky, a woman nearly half her age.
So, to make extra marital relationships a taboo actually means that the collective is being honored, and that the individual should remember that its security and even the right to be an individual can only be granted within the context of a ‘society, a collective’.
Then, there is an implication that women have only been decorative pieces in bedroom (author’s words)—which is deceptively narrow way of looking at married life. Women were never just show pieces, but Annapurnas and Laxmis and Saraswatis, a much bigger role than our modernity can ever assign to them. Women have been major decision makers even though they were not necessarily the breadwinners. After a long- hard-day’s work, bedroom is where the couple took decisions about their children, their parents, their own futures. To reduce a married life to sexual activity or sexual satisfaction is to ignore the purpose of marriage. Besides considering the trajectory of one’s life, it is expected that people’s interests would change and evolve. With time, needs move from being bodily to spiritual, a couple then enjoys each other’s company through intellectual exchange. And if a couple has not arrived there, then the problem lies with the kind of relationship and cannot be sorted out through an affair emotional or physical.
There is a deeper human need for consistency and continuity (of people) which in a long committed marriage develops into a healthy intimacy—based on interdependency. There is —a need to nurture others, and hence the need for a progeny, a need to feel a part of larger community and hence celebrations, festivals and rituals. Emotional and physical intimacy work in tandem and one takes precedence over the other in various stages of a couple’s life. This focus only on sexuality is a narrow view of what we are. Beyond bodies we are vast consciousness that carries the knowledge of human experience in its pores. Our bodies– as gross as they are—strive towards a poetic experience of life, and that poetic experience does not result from affairs and broken families, it results from having gone through the ups and downs, through emotionally close and emotionally distant periods, through times of extreme passion and through times of extreme emotional pain. No studies can ever comprehend human experience in its entirety.
On a closing note, we would like to stress our disagreement with this culture of promoting promiscuity and dropping shame associated with adultery, by stressing that many studies that have negatively influenced western societies, under the guise of ‘studies and experts say this’ are now being criticized.
Studies that rely on self-revelation as a way of ‘finding data’ cannot always be relied upon, for there is no way to gauge who is telling the truth or not, what is perception and what is reality? One such case was of a famous sexologist Alfred Kinsey, whose Kinsey reports unleashed sexual revolution in the United States. His studies which, are said to have been initiated due to his own sexual repression, made it seem that his data set, which was not a probability sample, spoke for the whole country. The problem, as states Dina Spector was that ‘Kinsey sometimes interviewed sex criminals and failed to report their behavior to the police, risking public safety for the sake of scientific data.’
In the process Kinsey also applied many of the deviant behaviors to normal people. Furthermore, not only did Kinsey use the data from his most notorious a sexual omnivore, “whose history of sexual encounters with men, women, boys, girls, animals and family members took 17 hours to record,” but ‘according to the NYT, Not only did Kinsey fail to report this man, but it was also later revealed that he pretended that ample data taken from this source — including extensive documentation of the sexual response of young boys — came from multiple sources.’
But none of these discrepancies were brought to public’s notice much after the damage had been done to the American society.
We would be very cautious using studies to justify moral degeneracy as the norm that stabs as the root of family, which remains the foundation of any healthy society. The readers would be wise to remember Judith Reisman’s, author of the 1990 book “Kinsey, Sex and Fraud” words, where she holds Kinsey responsible for the breakup of American family and states that his legacy to the US is “the skyrocketing incidence of all the social pathologies afflicting us today: divorce, abortion, sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, illegitimate births, cohabitation, pornography, homosexuality, sadomasochism, rape, child molestation, sexual crimes of all types, family breakup, endemic violence, etc.”
Ms. Kundu, using various studies without thoroughly understanding the basics of research and statistics sounds like a Kinsey intern. She should be ignored.
Image Source: http://www.parentherald.com/articles/81361/20161107/broken-family-psychological-effects.htm