A Glass of Water – Mera Jism Meri Marzi

Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

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Would a normal person normally lie down in the gutter and drink water from a puddle? 

Two years back some Pakistani women raised a slogan ‘Mera Jism Meri Marzi’ in an agitation in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi and other cities called Aurat March.

Now I am a strong supporter of women”s emancipation.

I am against the belief of some people, like the Talibanis, that a woman’s place is in her home, and I am against oppression of women, and treating her as inferior to men.

At the same time, I believe that the slogan ‘Mera jism meri marzi’ is a wrong slogan, even for women.

In this connection we may consider the Russian revolutionary Alexandra Kollontai, who was the People’s Commissar of Social Welfare in Lenin’s cabinet.

Alexandra Kollontai

Kollontai was a strong advocate of free love, and some believe she propagated the ‘the glass of water theory’, according to which the desire for sex was just like thirst. So just as one drinks a glass of water when one is thirsty, so also a woman may have sex with any man when she feels the urge, and there should be no restriction on this.

Lenin, and the People’s Commissar for Education in his cabinet, Anatoly Lunacharsky, strongly criticised the glass of water theory.

Lenin told Clara Zetkin, a German revolutionary :

”You must be aware of the famous theory that in our new society the satisfaction of sexual desires, of love, will be as simple and unimportant as drinking a glass of water. This glass of water theory has made our young people mad, quite mad. It has proved fatal to many young boys and girls.

Vladimir Lenin

I consider the ‘glass-of-water’ theory as completely anti-social. It is not only what nature has given but also what has become culture, whether of a high or low level, that comes into play in sexual life. The relations between the sexes are not simply the expression of a physical want.

To be sure, thirst has to be quenched. But would a normal person normally lie down in the gutter and drink from a puddle? Or even from a glass whose edge has been greased by many lips?

waterBut the social aspect is more important than anything else. The drinking of water is really an individual matter. But it takes two people to make love, and a third person, a new life, is likely to come into being. This deed has a social complexion and constitutes a duty to the community.

Not that I want my criticism to breed asceticism. That is farthest from my thoughts. I am not for asceticism, but for joy and strength, stemming, among other things, from a consummate love life. Whereas today, in my opinion, the obtaining plethora of sex life yields neither joy nor strength. On the contrary, it impairs them. This is bad, very bad.”

Similarly, the ‘Mera jism meri marzi’ slogan ignores the social and cultural aspect of relations between men and women, and gives a false impression to women that they can do anything with their bodies, even offer it to any man, and as many men, they wish. How then is it different from the ‘glass of water theory’? punjab


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Markandey Katju

Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India.

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