We at Jamia Journal normally don’t talk about student political activism taking place in other universities. We think, we at Jamia already have enough of our own absence of political activism to not talk about; so why burden ourselves with other people’s politics.
But we make an exception to the rule when we think an issue transcends a particular college or university and think it should be of interest to students of Jamia as well. With that in mind, we wish to talk about the ‘Kiss of Love’ protest against moral policing held at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Sunday, Nov. 9. (Link)
As most of you must already know, the Kiss of Love campaign is a growing campaign throughout the country, and similar demonstrations have been held in other cities as well. The one in JNU was just the latest.
For Jamia Journal, forming an editorial line on this particular issue was a difficult task. Taking a stand for or against it was a long contested exercise.
What made it difficult, was our existing view on the subject of Public Display of Affection (PDA). We personally do not favor an overt public display of affection. We just don’t think people should do it. However, it should be made clear, our stand is not a moral one. For us, it is not a question of morality. It just doesn’t go well with our sensibilities. Call us prudes if you want, but that is where we stand on the subject and we’re not ashamed to admit it.
But then, as an organization espousing liberal values, we also believe in individual rights. We believe everyone should have the legal right to live their life in whatever way they deem fit. As long as personal actions are not harmful to others, a person should have the right to live their personal lives according to their wishes.
So with opposing views on the issue, initially we felt the right response was not to have a stand at all; neither in favor, nor against.
But later we happened to read what the organizers of the Kiss of Love at JNU event had to say on their facebook event page, as to the reasons why they were organizing such a demonstration.
Below is an excerpt from the event page in reference that made us reconsider our stance:
“The protest was an assertion that the freedom to love is a fundamental human entitlement. Every person has an inalienable right of control over one’s own body. Forces of reaction of all hues – from the Sangh to the Khap Panchayats – are irreconcilably hostile to this basic aspect of human dignity. It is this which constitutes love as a fundamentally political act, an act which subverts a range of oppressive and tyrannical social structures. The Kiss of Love was an emphatic demonstration of this politics of subversion.”
This short paragraph changed our entire perspective on the issue. We realized our understanding of the motives and objectives of the campaign were extremely superficial. The Kiss of Love is not just about the right to kiss in public. Rather, it is a bold act of defiance. An act, as they say, that subverts a range of oppressive and tyrannical social structures. A form of resistance against the reactionary patriarchal and fascist forces in our society.
That for us changes everything. It no longer matters how it affects our sensibilities. Our choice to either support or not to support now becomes a moral one. In fact, it is becomes a moral imperative. By not siding with the demonstrators we practically give consent and support to the patriarchal and fascist moralizing forces we detest and oppose.
As a result, we now openly and proudly support the Kiss of Love Campaign.
However, this is still not to say, we advocate kissing in public. Our stand on PDA still remains unchanged. We simply stand behind the idea of the campaign.
In fact, we think as students of Jamia, we should publicly come out in support of this campaign.
And if our university wasn’t so staunchly against the idea of student activism, we would have organized a rally in support of this campaign on-campus ourselves. But the way things are at Jamia, we don’t think we can even organize a non-Kissing protest, let alone a kissing one.
So the only public space left for us to express our solidarity with the campaign, is the internet.
Taking inspiration from so many online hashtag (#) campaigns, we suggest our own. We suggest you update your facebook and twitter status updates with the line and tags:
“I as a students of #JamiaMilliaIslamia support the #KissOfLove Campaign.”
And if you like, you can also link to this editorial, thus giving context to your status update.
You could also post the message in the comments sections below. You can be a source of encouragement for others.
We would like to close with a reminder.
Like we said earlier, this issue is a moral one. There is no neutral side. So choose wisely.