“In the burgeoning literature seeking to explain our global crisis, when commentators attempt to unearth the basis of the divide between the West and the rest — or, as it seems to be increasingly expressed, Islam and ‘our’ values — sexuality emerges again and again as a central theme. In a kind of echo of anti-western critiques, champions of the West also seem to believe that sexuality is central to western culture and values. Somehow, and I acknowledge that this is alongside the more explicit objectives of security and access to resources, the global battles of our time are refracted through the prism of sexuality.
“I don’t want to distance myself from the claims of sexual freedom or even of the image of sex as freedom. My point is not that we should berate ourselves for participating in such a superficial and dehumanising sexual culture. Of course, it may be possible for commodified sexual experience to be enriching and even freeing. However, the investment of so-called western cultures (which may be better described as so-called market democracies) in an opposition between ‘our’ sexual freedom and ‘their’ sexual repression shapes our mutual misunderstanding and ongoing conflict(s). The dreams of western sexual freedom shape the manner of western torture. How we can imagine humiliation and pain becomes linked to this imagining of freedom. Most of all, the belief that sexual freedom is ours and that ‘they’ envy, resent, misunderstand and wish to destroy precisely this most precious and everyday aspect of our culture shapes popular conceptions of the enemy. In the manner of other earlier racialised myths, beliefs about sexuality add to the imaginary embodiment of the demon other.”
- Gargi Bhattacharyya, Dangerous Brown Men, 2008.