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Redeeming The (Rapey) Kamasutra

"The world of the Kamasutra is a fantasized world of sex that is in many ways the prototype for Hugh Hefner's glossy Playboy empire," writes University of Chicago history of religions professor Wendy Doniger in her new book, Redeeming the Kamasutra," Kyle Smith notes for the New York Post.

"Nor, in its single-girl-about-town sections, would it be unfamiliar to Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City. Its seduction advice even anticipated the player's handbook The Game - a guy is advised to have a wingman pretend to be a fortune teller and tell the target lady's mom how blessed with auspicious signs the suitor is."



From the publisher:

"The Kamasutra, composed in the third century CE, is the world's most famous textbook of erotic love. There is nothing remotely like it even today, and for its time it was astonishingly sophisticated. Yet it is all but ignored as a serious work in its country of origin-sometimes taken as a matter of national shame rather than pride - and in the rest of the world it is a source of amused amazement and inspires magazine articles that offer 'mattress-quaking sex styles' such as 'the backstairs boogie' and 'the spider web.'

"In this scholarly and superbly readable book, one of the world's foremost authorities on ancient Indian texts seeks to restore the Kamasutra to its proper place in the Sanskrit canon, as a landmark of India's secular literature. She reveals fascinating aspects of the Kamasutra as a guide to the art of living for the cosmopolitan beau monde of ancient India: its emphasis on grooming and etiquette (including post-coital conversation), the study and practice of the arts (ranging from cooking and composing poetry to coloring one's teeth and mixing perfumes), and discretion and patience in conducting affairs (especially adulterous affairs). In its encyclopedic social and psychological narratives, it also displays surprisingly modern ideas about gender and role-playing, female sexuality, and homosexual desire."


But, as the Post notes:

"There is, however, a disturbingly rapey aspect to the Kamasutra. The book is rapturous about kinky rough sex, and at times suggests that a woman's protests and resistance should be taken as signs of real passion."


Doniger speaking in Berlin last December:


About Wendy Doniger.


Comments welcome.


Posted on July 1, 2016

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