In defense of Sunny Leone by Sakshi Sirari

Yes. Sunny Leone is an ex-pornstar. She has come a long way, from being a penthouse pet for Playboy Magazine, to that unwanted company at Bollywood award shows and events, to being the most searched person over the Indian internet space for three years in a row. She was who she wanted to be at all times. Today, statistically, her situation has improved (perhaps exponentially). Though, for as long as our culture perpetuates patriarchy and exercises control over women’s sexuality, Sunny will be known as a sexual deviant who made money.

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CNN-IBN’s Bhupendra Chaubey and NDTV 24/7’s Shekhar Gupta recently interviewed her for their respective shows, as she was a movie promotion spree for upcoming film ‘Mastizaade’. Let’s take a stroll down these conversations that reflect an inherent bias and reeks of condescend, trying to drive a point that may not exist in the first place.

We have this weird obsession with sex and sexuality.

Well, Mr. Chaubey was more direct and unapologetically in your face with his misogynist questions. He said things like, “Your past will haunt you. Do you think it continues to hold you back?” To this, she graciously replied, “I am not held back.” Sure you aren’t lady! It’s a privilege to be able exercise your sexuality so freely, especially being a woman. You have inspired many to stand up for theirs. I am sure Mr. Chaubey has a tendency to “allow” or “not allow” the women within his domestic ‘realm’. People like you are sure to come across as threatening to people like him (which is the majority, which is why these shows run).

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He also went on to call her ‘Porn queen’. I agree. Being one of the only Asian woman and the only Indian to be called the hottest women by the world’s most widely read men’s magazine wouldn’t have been an easy task. He also asked her, “Can you imagine yourself doing roles dressed up from head to toe wearing a saree?” I am sure not, as long as the media keeps associating her identity with her body image.

Another pat on Sunny’s back for sparing noses.

Now let’s come to her walk the talk interview with NDTV’s very popular anchor Shekhar Gupta who has a reputation for invading personal spaces of celebrities through not-so-long walks. The beginning of the interview was quite appalling, as Mr. Gupta started off with the all condescending ‘You are the part of a privileged elite club now’ kinda introduction. This interview was not quite as demeaning as the former. Shekhar Gupta limited his questions to her career choices and her public image as a porn star. In my opinion, she is a really smart woman who is being presumed dumb. Someone needs to ask her the right questions! Although we must acknowledge that a lot of Shekhar’s questions threw some light on other structural aspects of her life that led her to be seen as what her image is today.

We have this weird obsession with sex and sexuality. Ever since the time we learn about it, we concentrate all our actions towards attaining a higher level. It’s all about finding an ideal mate- Find a good job so you may get a better partner; Earn well to attract better chicks; the list is endless. Even the Maslow’s triangle puts sex and food in the list of basics. Then why are we giving so much importance to it, to a point that it has become the box within which we are limiting ourselves to see something/ someone that might have so many other, beautiful, unexplored aspects?