I have chosen the following three news items to explicate my views on the topic. The wind still blows from the West that is why American examples are taken. India and other countries are just being blown away by the western wind.
1. The flamboyant running mate of John McCain – the former Republican presidential candidate – Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol Palin gave birth to a son at 17 while she was still in school.
2. Mimi Alford, an intern in the white house, lost her virginity to the then President J.F.Kennedy, in the presidential bedroom.
3. In the US most births are taking place to women under thirty out of wedlock.
Now, to elaborate on each item: Sex is a biological need. With the development of the body, hormonal change occurs rapidly creating an urge for sex. In youth it is high, tapering gradually with age. Emotion for sex is very strong. It is natural for opposite sexes to be drawn closer to each other and get united physically to satisfy the natural urge. Viewed objectively, there is nothing wrong. Now there are plenty of opportunities for a mingling of boys and girls and the obvious thing happens. From the media – print or electronic -- A to Z information about sex is available to anybody. Pornography is only a click away. Mobile phones and the Internet help to find partners easily at a convenient time and place. Vestiges of conventional moral norms are no more traceable due to an onslaught of dynamic liberalization. We have ushered in a time zone of unlimited freedom.
In America – and in many western countries -- this need is pragmatically viewed. In a bid to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies, condom and pill vending machines are made available in many western schools. Despite precautionary measures, slips do occur and pregnancy ensues. There are many schools providing crèche facilities for unmarried teen mums to enable them to complete schooling. Girls feed their babies during breaks. For us, it’s still a distant dream, but it is debatable to rule out its possibility for good. Who could imagine, a few decades back, that our school children will be having boy and girlfriends and talk endlessly on their mobiles to find a cozy cooing rendezvous. Dating is in vogue among the youth. It’s no more confined to urban schools only. It is rapidly spreading to rural areas too. Only recently two teenage sisters barely 17 and 19 from Haryana village collaborated with their boyfriends to kill their parents because parents were objecting to their relationship. Premarital sex is on the rise. Many school children are sexually active. Western counterparts are more promiscuous. India and other countries are not falling far behind. They too are catching up fast. While former US President George Bush was distributing silver rings and a copy of the Bible to school children for pledging abstinence till marriage, a girl was heard yelling ‘sex is good’ within the hearing range of Bush as shown in the BBC footage. Sex is no more a taboo. The prudish outlook is on the way out. Reversing the trend is unimaginable. It’s the order of the day. The inability to adapt to a new paradigm shift will be at the risk of personal mental unease.
Coming to the second point: it was her fourth day at work; she was only 19 by then. At lunchtime, she was invited to swim in the White House pool. Unannounced the president joined her. Later, after lunch, she was led by the president to see the décor of the interiors of the White House and in the process, she was laid to bed in the presidential boudoir. It was not possible for her to say no to the president. Circumstances compelled Ms. Alford to have unwanted sex. Such circumstances do exist under current workplaces where similar compulsion may prevail. With mobility and mingling opportunity of both sexes self-generated emotional compulsion also can play a great part in such acts as it happened in the case of Lewinsky and Clinton – both were equally ignited by love spark. Who knows when one will develop a crush on the other? With a relaxed moral standard, fortified with effective contraceptives, casual sex may be mutually agreed upon occasionally. So, anybody is likely to be carried away without being consciously aware of. It can happen willingly or unwillingly. This is a reality, whether one likes it or not.
Turning to the last point: marriage is a socially approved agreement between two individuals of opposite sexes to fulfill a mutual biological need. It is sanctified by religious rites and vows for lifelong fidelity. And it used to be more or less like that in old days – with sporadic unreported exceptions if any. It’s no more so irrespective of whether solemnized by religious rites or formalized by a legal document. It is rather natural for those who indulged in sexual activity in schools, or subjected to casual sex under varying circumstances may be inclined to stray even after getting married – albeit just for the heck of change or fun. Many celebs provide role models by having multiple sex partners out of wedlock without losing a tad of social respectability. The renowned sex therapists Berman Sisters duo poses a poignant question to fellow sisters if it’s desirable today to hitch lifelong fidelity to one guy while being drowned in an ocean of tempting alternatives. Both sexes are available in the workplace. Both are economically independent and conscious of individual rights and freedom. Even otherwise, an adjustment in a marital relationship is proving to be difficult because of conflicting likings and idiosyncrasies and growing individualism. As a result, a surge in divorce rate is visible. East or west divorce is still considered a traumatic experience for both or the other. The absence of inhibiting stigma revs up the drift. Here, the living-in system stems in with the added advantage of loose commitment and more freedom – sounding the death knell of an institution of marriage. This is the rising trend of the day.
The Supreme Court of India gave legal sanction to the living-in system. The western wind is slowly but surely engulfing the whole of the younger generation of the world. It’s only a matter of time until further evolution of human relationships emerges. Keep your fingers crossed.