ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Abortion and Gay Marriage

Sexual Modernity and Its Dissonance in Contemporary World

The local and global "other" can never hope to approximate the dominant Western ideals of sexual normality, for the terms of sexual normality and modernity are constantly being rescripted to police entries into the ranks of the Western hegemon.

I would like to thank my Women and Gender Studies students, Kamalam Unninayar and Smita Bhatnagar, for the luxury to rehearse many of these arguments. Thanks to Antoinette Burton for positive comments on a draft. Sanjay Joshi made time to provide invaluable feedback. I thank him for his intellectual generosity and sustained intimacy over the years.

The contemporary moment of sexual politics is marked by intense volatility and internal fissures, evident in the furious media reporting and multiple commentaries on social networks. Gay marriage and abortion are particular instantiations within the sexual landscape that have caught my attention, for their distinctly different political and discursive trajectories. These two issues highlight the underlying incoherence and fault lines within the contemporary sexual landscape, locally and globally.

The politics of sexual modernity today seems riddled with glaring contradictions, hard to reconcile within a transformative feminist framework. Gay marriage and gay-friendliness is fast becoming a distinct marker of modernity, progress, and Western liberalism.1 Western nations appear to be virtually tripping over each other in seeking to claim their global leadership vis-a-vis their gay-friendly state policies. Ireland is the most recent member of the Western world to claim its place as the first nation to legalise gay marriage through a referendum (Hakim and Dalby 2015). Nations are deploying gay politics to self-represent themselves as agents of progressive sexual politics and to mark their distinctions from the sexually illiberal “other.”

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