Whenever a case of child sexual abuse (CSA) rocks the country, parents and educators alike are appalled. The statistics tell us that CSA is rampant in India. In a study conducted in 2007 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development covering 13 states, it was found that 57.3% of the children who had been abused were boys and 42.7% were girls.
However, while we’re overly protective of girl children and their bodies, even restricting growth and education opportunities that come their way because it’s too ‘risky’, we remain casual about the sexualisation of boy children, even accepting it as a form of humour. The recent Tamil movie ‘Thirunaal’ which has a scene where a six-year-old boy kisses actor Nayanthara on her lips is one such example.
Even if we ignore the title of the video ‘Oops !!! Lucky School Boy Liplock with Hot Nayanthara | Thirunaal Movie scene | Nayan Mouth kiss’, the content remains dodgy. What exactly was the director trying to do here? What sort of intention is he foisting on the child? These are questions that we must ask because the scene becomes ‘funny’ only if accept that a small child of six is so attracted to Nayanthara that he must ‘liplock’ with her and shock her.
There is no ‘innocence’ to this. And there’s no doubt that it is the kid who is the victim in this scene, sexualized by the adults around him who have not only made him perform a sequence like this but have also gone on to turn him into a ‘hero’ for it.The ‘kiss scene’ has generated memes like this one:Vadivelu (supposed to be Nayanthara): Did you ask around about me outside?Arjun (supposed to be the kid): HmmmVadivelu (supposed to be Nayanthara): Ah, that’s why you did this mischief!
Let’s pause for a moment and wonder how we’d have felt if it was a little girl ‘liplocking’ with a much older male actor. Would we still think it was funny? The male child’s gender identity does not validate his age inappropriate sexualisation. How this scene has been perceived says a lot about us as a society and our belief that men always want it, whatever be their age and a woman’s consent doesn’t matter, whatever be her age!
To be fair, this scene is not the only example of such instances of the sexualisation of small boys. Reality TV shows frequently have female anchors ‘flirting’ with the young boy participants on the show, asking them who among the female judges or guests they’d like to kiss, why they sang a certain suggestive song etc. The audience, comprising parents and family members never seem to think any of this is inappropriate, going by the laughs and clapping that such ‘jokes’ elicit. Once again, would we feel just as comfortable if a male anchor were to do the same with the female participants?Here’s another meme that was doing the rounds when Sunny Leone visited a school: