What does this photograph reveal about Sri Lankan society?

This was taken by an American girl at BASE Karaoke lounge in Colombo on New Year's Eve, 2005. Nvertheless, what does this picture say about men and women in Colombo society?

This photograph was taken by an American girl at the BASE karaoke lounge in Colombo on New Year’s Eve, 2005. Karaoke lounges in Colombo, apart from Sopranos at the CH&FC premises and Lava at the Hilton, are generally hostess bars, frequented primarily by men. I think the photograph reveals Sri Lanka’s repressed society.

Why are all these men so excited by the tame sight of this dancer’s cleavage? There are even chaps standing on top of tables to get a better view. And what’s with the plethora of  camera phones? To record this precious sighting of brassiere for prosterity?

Is this representative of men in Sri Lanka? And, if so, what does it say about the women?






82 thoughts on “What does this photograph reveal about Sri Lankan society?

  1. It might be a little hasty or pessimistic to declare this evidence of repression. Yes, from all the bum-pinching, it seems young men and women in SL are at a loss for mutually acceptable paths to love and/or nookie. But images of beautiful dancers are universal in art, which at its best is truth pinned to a canvas. We just don’t usually get to see the hunger of those watching. So it’s an excellent snapshot of the male “gaze” that feminist litcrit natters on about.

    Something to add about the context of the photo: This was the second dancer who performed on 31st night, and she looked much more “Sri Lankan” (gold chains in the hair and all — kanagatui, mang dannenah the words for wedding-y jewelry). The first woman had been a Supah Sexy dancer, but although this one was not as lithe and smoldering, her movements got a lot more applause, and it even sounded more repectful, which I think can be part of interactions even in a sleazy capital-city hostess bar.

    No one tried to touch either woman as she was dancing — though just to make sure, that fellow in black looks less awed than the rest because he stands before the crowd every night and makes a space for the dancer to dance, and muscles her a path out of the room as soon as she’s done.

    I wouldn’t go there any other night, and I’m sure glad we were with some guy friends, but the place itself is not uniquely evil to Sri Lanka.
    And I felt that the dancing was actually the best part of that evening, in that everyone stopped trying to hook up with each other or start fights, and just cheered and appreciated.

    That said, I also wonder about that woman’s situation: what does she think of all this? Is she safe, or free? What are her days like, if this is her night?

  2. That’s an unexpected and interesting perspective, Liz. When you first sent me this photograph following that discussion on the sex post, I must admit that I was ashamed of a certain aspect of our society. I took this picture to be a sign of the extent of repression and frustration. “Is this how starved we are in Sri Lanka that we react like this to something so tame?”, was the question going through my mind. And, what must be these guys’ personal lives be like? Do they have girlfriends, fiancees or wives? What sort of relationship do they have with them? And my god, do they not put out? Do they insist on turning off the light? Really, what is the deal here, man? I mean she’s not even got her dress off and they are photographing her cleavage, not her dancing. Look at the angles on those camera phones. It’s nuts.

  3. Right, returning to the realm of reality, I definitely have a gut “Ewwww!” reaction, too.

    I agree with you that nuts are certainly at the root of it.

  4. She’s lovin it. Most Karaoke clubs in Colombo are nothing but strip joints with crappy music. The only difference is that they allow patrons to take pictures of the strippers.

  5. So having taken that picture seemed a good excuse to weigh in. Thing I remember was taking a series of these shots at random because I couldn’t really see a thing, and hoping I’d get lucky and have somethign in the frame.

    Point being, in my memory this was what these boys felt safe doing in the anonymity of crowds, drink, and darkness. (apologies for lost anonymity now, boys) Having been a part of conversations with health professionals who said the only reason myself and friends were being groped on busses and cat called on the streets is because we were foreigners. Living in this country that is a top destination for pedophiliac tourists, european divorces looking for young man lovin, and a growing child sex industry. Having sat in numerous internet cafe’s where the address cache is full of sites hosting images of perversion I couldn’t dream up in any induced state. Then, talking to my host sister who wouldn’t dare to have sex before marriage and knows only a handful of eligible men. Knowing that without contest, homesexuality is still a legally punishable offence. And having been asked some of the most astounding questions, I think it is entirely possible that this country is having a sexual identity crisis. (aren’t we all). But perhaps with the onslaught of sexuality, healthy and hideous , coming from outside the borders, there hasn’t been the chance for the cultural creators that exist in any country to come to their own relationship with sexuality other than that of a defensive posture. This leaves the young ones, men in particular, to go through their journey of coming to terms with their sexuality, alone, and often, in the dark.

    PS – “She’s loving it”. Really?

    PPS – favorite part of the photo, the aching longing of the lone white t-shirted hand reaching out for goodness knows what.

  6. Interesting Leesers. This has been my theory on a lot that is wrong with Sri Lankan society. From bad drivers to the the lack of work ethic. I think colonisation uprooted the natural evolution of social norms and establishing of identities and substituted it with systems and values that the country just wasn’t ready for. So it seems with your argument that sexual identity/comfort zone is one of those things. The ready availability of porn and Russian hookers together with the low budget hostess bars, have opened up avenues for otherwise un savvy men. Your host sister is probably an embodiment of SL society was. Her exposure probably was not as great. SL just isn’t ready for this sexual revolution to happen in a civilised fashion. Just like it wasn’t ready for universal suffrage or an organised civil administration system. Same same…as they say in Vietnam.

  7. It says there are a lot of frustrated people around.

    I have friends who visit these karoake bars, they are apparently happily married, but they do so anyway.

    I could understand the interest if the women were good looking (I have been dragged into few at the behest of these same friends) but they were all quite repulsive. They girls were, in the words of a female acquaintance who went into one by mistake, “like our domestics”.

    There does also seem to be a well established pattern of sexual abuse of (female) servants. Again, a number of people i know had their first sexual encounters with the servants. That what they were doing was rape never seemed to enter their heads.

    I was told this particular practice is quite old and practised by people from the “walauwwa’s” – this was the theme of Lester James Peiris’s television serial “Giraya” – a pretty good programme that I watched in the late 1980’s.

  8. Leesers, good points, well made.

    “But perhaps with the onslaught of sexuality, healthy and hideous , coming from outside the borders, there hasn’t been the chance for the cultural creators that exist in any country to come to their own relationship with sexuality other than that of a defensive posture.”

    Sophist, I dunno if leesers just meant colonialism. But, yes, certainly the Christian influence may have given us some guilt about sex, and the Victorian influence may have given us some need to keep up puritanical appearances.

    Yesterday, I was reading some old Sri Lankan poetry written by some king (I’ll post it later), and it seemed to have a very healthy take on sex and sexuality: very honest and unashamed, like the often-quoted Sigiriya frescoes and Mirror Wall graffiti. There were also many villages in Sri Lanka (Rodi caste) where the women did not care about covering themselves up as they do today. In fact, they went topless. The traditonal Sri Lankan reddai hattay, which bears the stomach, and the sari, which bears the midriff, were far sexier clothing than the Victorians considered decent. The Victorians even felt the need to cover the ankles of tables and chairs, as it was not polite to show legs!

    However, at the moment what we have is an influx sex which is both liberal and even anarchic, or to use leesers’ terminology, “healthy and hideous”. In the fifities, sixties and seventies a sexual revolution happened in the West, and it didn’t here. The West gave up their Victorian values, Sri Lanka somehow didn’t. The choice to hold on to those values was ours. When the West was all about the pill and free love, we were finding our post independence feet by going through a nationalist Buddhist revival. Unfortunately, organised Buddhism in its revived form rejected only the new values of the West, while conserving the old traditional Victorian ones we had acquired a century before. Thus, ironically, today organised Sri Lankan Buddhism embodies and promotes Victorian values acquired by the very source it tries to purify itself of.

    Later, we experienced a revolutionised sexually evolved female image coming at us from the West, and a woman who embodies the traditional female image residing with us at home. Our religious leaders are teaching us that the former is bad, and the latter is good. They also teach us that human beings are vastly different from other animals and sex before marriage is a sin (Christianity, Islam) and that craving and want is also going to bring unhappiness (Buddhism). So, seeking to be “good” people we try to bury our sexuality, for what is sex if it isn’t primal and lustful?

    This has given rise to a situation where we want our sisters and mothers and daughters and cousins and friends and girlfriends and wives to be “good girls” for society. Some men may want their girlfriends and wives to remain good girls in the bedroom as well. Others may secretly desire their wives and girlfriends to be whores in the bedroom, and puritanical in society, and they may be unable to reconcile these dichotomous images of woman in one person.

    So their sexuality has to come out in some way or form, and often when it does, it is not pleasant, like in the photo above.

  9. The angles of the phones do speak a million words..but mostly about how sad it is that these men need to strain so desperately to capture this and worse, that the woman needs to smile and, at least, pretend to enjoy the moment.

    A couple of years ago I was at a club hosted by a 5-star hotel..and the crowd was dressed to kill, “chic”, etc. Except for 4 or 5 girls standing near the bar in dark coloured shalwars, long plaits, flowers stuck in the plaits – so rural they would have stood out in most ‘modern’ villages. Upon some subtle, inquiry I learnt they were prostitutes. The hotel management claimed they had not idea who they were..but frequenters to the club have seen the same girls there most weekends. As I watched a couple of those girls taken out by foreigners, the only question running through my mind was what was the thought running through their heads?

    Is this what they had expected? Is this what they had accepted? 😦 And what does THAT say about Sri Lankan society?

  10. While I agree with the issues in SL society due to the misappropriation of Victorian values as our own, I don’t think repression of young males is a purely Sri Lankan thing…people in the West don’t really get laid that much….just google collegefuckfest…the people in those videos behave pretty much as the guys in this pic

  11. Good point, N. I’ve never been to the spring-break scene (where a lot of that “Girls Gone Wild” stuff is filmed), but I’m sure you could see pretty much this image in the crowds over there — face powder, chains, cleavage and all.

    Recently came across a very interesting list of “human universals” by Donald E. Brown (science fella) — combed from behavioral and ethnographic studies, both intercultural and those focused on the researcher’s own peeps. Things like, apparently every culture has baby talk, has tabooed words or references, distinguishes true and false. “Dance” is on there too, as is “interpreting behavior”.

    Not sure what my point is — I guess just adding a neat bit of info from academia about this.

    Leesers, gracefully said!

    And Ravana, really nice description of what’s goin on at the psychological intersection of Buddhist & Victorian.

  12. Yep just the level of frustration is somewhat higher over here I guess…although from what I’ve heard thats not the state in the village regions, just in the towns…if someone could back up that piece of innuendo that would be much appreciated. Interesting stuff that from Donald E. Brown.

    Slightly off topic Liz, where on earth is this place near Police Park on Havelock Road that has awesome hoppers, I live right there and I’ve been sadly unaware of the place all this time!

  13. N, googled college fuck fest as you recommended and came across a porn site (surprise, surprise). Can’t really access browse it from where I am at the moment, but do the guys in those videos get THIS excited at SO little – a bit of bra and cleavage? That would surprise me.

    I should clarify that I have nothing against hostess bars, and even prostitution, if regulated properly. My concern is not guys having many to one orgies, or going out for a night of stagnight fun. My concern is that they get off on so little.

  14. whoops, sorry mate…my bad I should have added that disclaimer :)…well yeah they get of on so little because you just don’t see that on the road here…I mean I see more cleavage and more leg at work in the US than at nightclubs here…so I’m used to it. I was just saying the behaviour is pretty much universal….the degree yes is very, very different..

  15. it is rather silly to draw lessons about repressed sexuality of sri lankans from such a pic from such a place.
    that there are lot of sri lankan men with frustrated repressed sexual lives is a fact. the strange mix of ‘moral values’ that govern the so called ‘middle classses’ (defined as ppl dependent on a white collar salary) in is probably the main reason ( some one should properly study this). however if you examine other classes esp blue collar and village level you will not see such a repression.

  16. The middle class in most societies are the most sexually conservative anyway. If you want to compare like with like, you have to compare the middle class in Sri Lanka with the middle class in other countries.

  17. contextualizing the photo not just in the class or locality that it represents but also in situating the crowd with the ongoing hype and atmosphere may help in understanding what these guys are actually trying to achieve. I’m not justifying their behavior in any way, but some times people just do things because everyone else around them is. I mean, ‘the view’ caught on some of those phones could be obtained at an adults only cinema, or through widely available porn. In a way the photo shows us that Sri Lankans aren’t very different, in that collective hooliganism exists whereever, people have different ways of showing it.

  18. I’d like to know why the woman’s face is covered while the others faces are fully displayed. What is the thinking behind discriminating between these two types of faces for censorship? This was to me the most striking part of the picture.

  19. I think this has a lot to do with opportunity and the school structure. Most urban youth and I am sure 99% of the chaps in this picture attended single sex schools, where interaction with the opposite sex is considered taboo. (specially if its a Christian school) while there maybe lots of positives in this system, you have literally thousands of youth graduating every year with great academic skills but very poor social skills.

    This is why you would see lots of guys hanging out in small groups and making wise cracks at passing girls or even a quick grope in a crowded bus. They feel safe in being seemingly inconspicuous. If these jack asses are confronted on a one on one basis you will find them actually being very timid and at a complete loss for words.

    This sort of behaviour has become a culture, and so become the accepted thing to do. You have to wonder if there is any degree of success for generations to keep adopting the same crappy tactic. This is probably why chaps would seem to be satisfied with such ‘cheap thrills’. It’s quite sad that in our quest to be a ‘just’ society we are in fact breading, quite literally, a nation of wankers.

    Having said all of this, there has got to be more to that photograph? Liz are you sure the dancer was not bottomless? Or was she going to take her top off?

  20. Same-sex schools? that’s why they invented something called tuition classes. i cant vouch for the out-of-colombo situation, but within colombo those who’d normally get laid, do get laid.

    probably it does create a sort of a girls=flirt+askout+andmaybeevensex! element as opposed to being just oh. that b*tch..sorta attitude, but i think its overhyped..

    Also, contrary to uninformed observations there is no undue tabooness about opposite sex in the so called Christian schools. whatever tabooness that does exists is derived SL society (or subcontinent culture) in general. where opness about interaction with the opposite sex, or sex in general is taboo not necessarily the act .

  21. i think it says that she has no one idea about how to match make up with her skin tone – face is so pink (and i can tell ya it’s not just fron exertion!) and that the guy in the black t-shirt is probably her pimp. look how he’s holding some people back

  22. Why did you cover her face with some monster like picture? i mean you could have just put some plain circle or something to cover her face… why is that picture(the monster like thing…) been use? does it signifies that the women is evil?

    And i would really like to what other women feel when they look at those greedy men? do you feel jealous or something like that? 🙂

  23. Aadhavan – The request to cover the face of the woman came from Liz, who was concerned that the woman’s family may not know about her night job, and they might find out, and she’d get in trouble if it was posted online. I thought about what you said, even before you said it, and basically I think the reason that woman’s face is covered is that both Liz and I are concerned more about what happens to the woman than what happens to the guys.

    Dine – No, the monster mask doesn’t signify anything apart from the fact that it was the fastest thing I could find to cover the face up with.

  24. Thanks Ravana. I appreciate your honesty. I would like to register my mild dissent though. Some of these guys could find themselves in some very awkward positions to say the least as a result of being shown up like this. Your point about Sri Lankan society would have been well taken even without the faces in full view.

  25. I don’t think it’s frustration among men at all. They are just having fun. Simple as that.
    The more people read/study they try to find intelligent reasons for every situation in life. This has everything to do with our changing ways & also the fact that girls are (still) more modestly dressed outside the cmb suburbs. And our men would love to just get a glimpse of erotica.
    I can visualise them going away & showing the photos & talking animatedly about it to their mates. While laughing all the while.
    I wouldn’t read too much into it.

  26. That’s exactly the point, knowitall. Why do they get so excited for so little?

    Because they are starved. And that’s the pity: that in this country people are starved of opportunities for normal healthy sexual gratification.

  27. It could be the simple reason of seeing something that is usually ‘not put out there’ in our social norms, and the sheer joy of seeing something taboo, ravana.
    The words starved/frustration is debatable imo

    I think something like this is nice to see in this day & age. The simple pleasures of seeing a woman’s boobs & acting like school boys. 🙂
    Only in SL, perhaps India.

  28. They aren’t enjoying “the simple pleasures of seeing a woman’s boobs”. They are enjoying seeing a tiny bit of cleavage. And they are enjoying it so much that they are recording it for posterity on the camera phones.


    It tells me that they are deprived, not depraved. Surely, this level of cleavage exposure shouldn’t be unusual or taboo if they have healthy sex lives?

    I guess our disagreement on this comes down to what is normal, and what should be the norm and is therefore highly subjective. I would contend that what is natural and should be normal for any adult in possession of a a healthy libido is to use that, and not hide it. If these men were using it though, they wouldn’t get so excited at so little.

  29. Agree on this – “If these men were using it though, they wouldn’t get so excited at so little.” That is if you meant,— if they had an active sex life they wouldn’t get this excited about cleavage—-.
    Then again, have you seen how married men act at a topless bar?

    Still the claim of deprivation/frustration/starved does not hold water for me.
    There are so many hookers around & all you need is some $$ & a good condom in your pocket to release the frustration.
    If that does not turn you on, you could find so many ‘good’ girls who are willing participants in a little rendezvous.

    BTW that is no ‘bit’ of cleavage, that’s a whole acre of it.

  30. You say you agree with the statment, “If these men were using it though, they wouldn’t get so excited at so little” and then you also say, “Still the claim of deprivation/frustration/starved does not hold water for me.”

    If the men are not using their libido, they are by definition deprived, no? I don’t understand what you mean.

    Also, the reason why so many married Sri Lankan men frequent these places and also go to prostitutes is because they are deprived. I’m not saying that they aren’t having sex with their wives altogether, but from talking to a lot of them I think they don’t really get to let loose with their wives. Either they have too prudish an idea of how they should treat their wives and how their wives should behave, or the wives have ideas that “nice girls don’t do THOSE things.” I think most Sri Lankan men rarely get to live their fantasies out with their wives, and that is the very reason they look elsewhere for the satisfaction of this need.

  31. Are you talking self-deprivation? Surely, there is no need for that for ‘men’ is there?
    I assumed you meant (in a puritanical society like SL) men are starving for sex. Therefore, my argument was if you want it, there are avenues to get it, not necessarily from one’s GF. Hence, there is no need for sexual deprivation.

    It’s a double edge sword for men. They want sex before marriage, but when it comes to marriage, they don’t want to marry a girl who has lost their virginity.

    About married men— They could be going to topless bars purely for variety/cut the boredom of sameness.
    I have heard that some wives actually know that their partners frequent these places & they don’t mind, as they (husbands) come home for the action all heated up. After many years of marriage that may be one way to ‘turn on’
    Or, another aspect could be the non-existent mental connectedness of two people.

    I find it hard to believe that there are such prudish girls in our society in the 21st century that they can’t let loose in the marital bed.
    Have to be a massive iceberg surely.

  32. Sophist:
    I think colonisation uprooted the natural evolution of social norms and establishing of identities and substituted it with systems and values that the country just wasn’t ready for.

    If you end the sentence after “systems and values”, this makes a lot of sense to me. That is, colonial norms weren’t necessarily more advanced (no matter what the Brits et al were saying) or something to be “ready” for, but they were different than what had evolved here already. Besides sexual mores, is there perhaps a lingering higher status to lighter skin? That might help partially explain the dancer’s choice of face makeup:

    i think it says that she has no one idea about how to match make up with her skin tone – face is so pink (and i can tell ya it’s not just from exertion!)

    As a visible honky, I was treated differently in SL: encouraged to jump lines, for instance. Does lighter skin among actual Sri Lankans seem to correlate with higher status? And was that the case before the arrival of Europeans?

  33. I think fair skin has been considered desirable in South Asia from before colonialsim. I may be mistaken, but I seem to vaguely recall reading some pre-colonial literature that seemed to praise the fair skin of dancing girls or some such thing. Colonialism may have just given that perception a boost.

    Just because a Sri Lankan has fair skin, it doesn’t mean they get to jump lines; they’ll do that anyway. But society favours the fair skinned in the same way that any person considered beautiful will get a better deal… anywhere.

  34. The obsession with fairer skin is a result of the lingering belief in the superiority of the higher Brahmin caste, who were fairer than their ‘lesser’ counterparts. This feeds off Aryan-Dravidian divide, with the perception that Aryan superiority is linked in some way to their fairer skin. (sadly this myth together with the Arya Sinhala race myth have contributed to the ethnic divide in this country when every indication from scholars in the field of archaeology and anthropology in recent times has been that the Tamils and the Sinhalas are essentially of the same stock) These myths have in addition to the effects of colonialism generated the belief that white is beautiful. The problem is compounded because a lot of the high caste “pure bred” families actually bred very liberally with the colonisers and you have these faint traces of European blood lines running down the genes of these clans.


    Anyway My friend !If I am a moron, who are you???(I hope you’re not among those Boys)lol

    The truth is bitter and hard to swallow. Because this is a mirror image of the society you represented! lol

    But the initial fact and my point is still solid & static!

    “Sri Lankan boys do want the freedom for Wanking Gear!”

  36. This whole picture is fishy & of bad taste.
    The author took it upon himself/herself to cover the face of the dancer who by the way has no qualms about erotic dancing for a male dominated audience, also happily pose for the camera too. She is not masking her face is she?
    However, author didn’t think twice about plastering the faces of the men on the web. The men are paying customers, there to have a good time & not necessarily with their parents/partners’ knowledge. So let’s talk about the person who snapped together with the other guys & took the liberty upon themselves to plaster it on the web.
    How wicked is that?

  37. Hey Ravana! Y don’t u talk anything about ENGLISH culture! Are there no brothels, Lap dancing joints, peep shows, Group Sex parties, etc in LONDON????
    In that way these young boys are just taking pics of this horny girl, it is nothing to do with male dominated society concept.
    Sri Lanka is Pure Buddhist country, where equal rights are there for both men and woman. We no about this right for more than 2500 years since lord Buddha brought this matter to the society! Not the ENGLISH WANKERS!
    Hey Ravana,You are just slinging mud on Sri Lankans!

    We know that you have refugee status and living with the Doll!
    “Ravana kiyala sinha hamak porawagatha nariya!pada arinne nathuwa idapan!”

  38. Much of Sri Lanka’s current culture is based on Christian prudishness that was shoved down the island’s throat with the arrival of the colonials. Prior to this, Sri Lanka was quite sexually liberated (as was much of South Asia that was untouched by Islamic expansionism) but Christian influence ended all that. Christian influence also made it a crime for men and women to have same-sex relations, made it a crime for Muslims to practice polygamy, and consequently fostered bigotry and narrowmindedness among the island’s people. We need to return to the sexually liberated culture that characterised South Asia prior to the arrival of the colonials and their brand of Christianity.

  39. With the return to the sexually liberated culture or so claimed, do you plan to accept the modern day sexually transmitted diseases, & vouch to wear a condom every time?

  40. Sex isn’t a crime again nature “just me”, sex is a natural part of life. People in South Asia came up with the Kama Sutra, tantra and lingam and yoni as symbols of fertility and spirituality. Polygamy and polyandry were and are practised by various groups. Neither of these stood in the way of “civilization” or “spiritual upliftment” seeing as great religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism originated in this part of the world. It is the Christian paradigm introduced by the colonials that views sexual liberation as some sort of abomination. Funnily enough, while the west has moved away from Christian-inspired prudery, we continue to stick to paradigms that were shoved down our throats centuries ago.

    I have no idea why you seem to equate sexual liberation with unsafe sexual practices. As you well know sexual education is almost non-existent in Sri Lanka – thanks to our colonial mentality. I doubt many young adults in Sri Lanka even know how AIDS is contracted, let alone
    hepatits and other STDs.

  41. Videshi, I never said sex is a crime of any sort. Sex is a natural evolution of humans.
    However, since every one is making parallels of our sexual behavioural society with the colonial past, & claiming, had it not for the invasion/rule we will be happily making babies willy-nilly, I wanted the people who so ‘want the freedom to wank’, see that it’s not the same society as it once was.
    I don’t know deeply about any religion, but the little I know, tells me,no one religion advocates promiscuity, so you can’t blame Christianity alone.
    Same with kama sutra, it’s nothing to do with willy-nilly sex, but how to get the maximum satisfaction/beautiful art of lovemaking.
    Polygamy/polyandry is different imo. The sexual activity circulates among few chosen people hence less chances of disease.

    You have to equate sexual liberation with unsafe sex=diseases.

    “”Funnily enough, while the west has moved away from Christian-inspired prudery “”
    What is funny is, when the west is moving back into being chaste, we want to be more like ‘them’ or our perception of ‘them’. There are 15, 16 year olds wanting to save themselves until they wed. (Of both sexes) I admit it’s a minute section of the population, nevertheless it is a reverse from the sexual liberation, which started in the ’70’s.
    Some countries in the west are battling with escalating aids cases, Hepatitis C etc & trying to educated (yet again) about safe sex practices & with no sex education in place in SL, as you said, we don’t want to encourage sexual liberation.

    Pardon me if you were not talking sex in the same context of one-night stands or wanting sex with your current partner, & then when that relationship breaks, hop into another relationship & another bed & so on & so forth.

  42. Just Me said, “You have to equate sexual liberation with unsafe sex=diseases.”

    Completely disagree. On the contrary, sexual liberation leads to less diseases.

    Sexual liberation = open society with no guilt about sex = sex education in schools and parents teaching their kids about it = responsible sex taught to kids = kids who practice safe sex = less diseases.

  43. ““Completely disagree. On the contrary, sexual liberation leads to less diseases.””

    Oh ya?
    Prove it then.

    West =open society =no guilt about sex =sex education starts in ‘primary school’.
    Yes, responsible sex is taught to kids. The key word here is “kid who practices safe sex”

    At age 18 when they can get their foot inside clubs…. go with mates, have a few drinks, loose the clear judgment, jump in the back seat of the car for a quickie. Do you think the majority use a condom?

    Is SL ready for the monster that will unleash with sexual liberation? Unwanted pregnancies etcetera

    I am all for sex education in SL. There is nothing to feel guilty about it. It’s good to know your body, how it works & how it reproduces. But it should be taught in the context of sexual characteristics, emphasising on sexually transmitted diseases with wanton sex. Otherwise it’s like giving a green light saying it’s ok to have sex as soon as you feel you are ready for it. Hey, most of the 14/15 year olds will think they are ready.
    The reason west have sex education at such an early age is because of the “sexual liberation” & there is nothing they can do to reverse it, so they educate the young mind of the importance of safe sex to prevent unwanted pregnancies, not to mention the inevitable disruption of the education with it & deceases.

    It’s ok to say ‘no’ OR it’s cool to say ‘no’. (for sex)
    Isn’t that the mantra of some of the western countries?

    So why do we have to say, it’s cool to say ‘yes’

  44. “Sexual liberation” demystifies and normalises the whole thing, which makes people lose interest in it. Ever heard of Asexuality?

    There’s a lot more than what meets the eye when it comes to sex in Sri Lanka. I think that’s what Deane’s trying to say as well. The lady in the photo certainly does not seem to be bothered, and if anything, she’s very happy with the attention. It’s unfair to think that Sri Lankans behave like this all the time. These karaoke bars are nothing but strip clubs and/or brothels, and surely it’s acceptable for people to behave like this with a stripper or a prostitute.

  45. Just me, I can understand your fears about an explosion in sex among youths, but in reality sex among youths even happened in our parent’s generation and it continues to happen today. We cannot afford to brush it under the carpet just because sexuality is a taboo subject in our country today. I certainly think Sri Lanka is more sexually liberated than any of her South Asian neighbours but we still live in a repressed society. Walk around any western country and you will not see groups of boys staring and salivating at every single girl that walks by like you do in Sri Lanka. Women seem to more safer on the streets, they do not get groped and harassed on buses, trains and public places. What I am trying to point out is that sex and sexuality was not a taboo subject in South Asia. It was something that was ‘celebrated’ accepted by society – until the colonials turned up. The damsels of Sigiriya, the temples of Khajuraho show that nudity and the natural human form were not regarded as scandalous. Not only that, ordinary people like you and me were writing poetry (Sigiri Graffiti) about the beauty of the frescoes. None of them wrote anything along the lines of “how disgraceful, they should be removed forewith!” like what would probably happen if someone had created them today. I agree with Ravana in that “sexual liberation” means an open society that has no guilt about sex. A person can be a virgin till their marriage and still be sexually liberated. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of someone’s personal choice. Personally, I like the idea of saving oneself up for the person one is going to spend the rest of one’s life with.

    I certainly do not want Sri Lanka to be another America with high rates of teenage pregancy and the rot that we see on the Jerry Springer Show. So I agree with you there. But don’t you think we certainly can afford to be less guarded about sexuality and male-female relationships (and male-male and female-female relationships). Our youth deserve to learn about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect themselves in case they do choose to engage in sexual intercourse. I don’t think this would lead to an increase in sex, but rather we would have better educated youth and less teenage pregnancies, STDs, abortions and the associated social stigma.

  46. Just Mal – you miss the point again. I’m not saying the behaviour is bad. I’m not making any judgement on that whatsover. I’m just saying the high level of excitement of these guys at so little reveals that they are starved of anything more. And that’s sad. Not bad. Sad.

  47. The point here is Sri Lankan society needs at least the RIGHT to WANK! That’s the shortest answer! And that’s the TRUTH!!!

    These are the consequences of buddhisum!!! There is no single Sex shop in Sri Lanka, Basically there are no FREELY AVAILABLE WANKING GEAR!

    “Lets open some adult stores and give the FREEDOM to WANK!

  48. Videshi,
    ““I agree with Ravana in that “sexual liberation” means an open society that has no guilt about sex. A person can be a virgin till their marriage and still be sexually liberated. I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of someone’s personal choice.””

    I can’t argue with that.

    ““I certainly do not want Sri Lanka to be another America with high rates of teenage pregancy and the rot that we see on the Jerry Springer Show. So I agree with you there. But don’t you think we certainly can afford to be less guarded about sexuality and male-female relationships (and male-male and female-female relationships). Our youth deserve to learn about safe sex and sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect themselves in case they do choose to engage in sexual intercourse.
    I don’t think this would lead to an increase in sex, but rather we would have better educated youth and less teenage pregnancies, STDs, abortions and the associated social stigma.””

    No argument here either. (at least for the first part of the para) But where do you draw the line? I will have a hard time believing it will not lead to an increase in sex among the youth. It will happen gradually. The need to explore is great.
    Your argument does not bear weight towards the end. When you look outside of SL, at countries where sex education is part of the curriculum, you don’t see a decrease in STD/ unwanted pregnancies etc. Education does not work with a sizeable proportion of the kids. Perhaps kids from a certain socio-economic group, I don’t know.

    Therefore my argument is, even though I am in favour of sex education in schools, where/how do you draw a line & say sex for sex sake is not right.
    How do you stop the natural instinct of wanting to explore something you know? Sure, at first the kids will want to protect themselves with the newfound knowledge. However, when they become more ‘experienced’ will they be as careful? What then?
    You can say there are many ‘ifs’ in my argument, but with data available to us from other countries we have to delve into those ifs. We have no social security structure to look after teens in crisis like in developed countries.

    PS I know many posters dig too deep into our past to show we were sexually more open. I am not arguing those nor touching those points as the world we live in today, is not the same . We cannot be blind to the realities of today.

  49. Ravana, I think I get your point matchang. Are you trying to say that you get laid every day so you can’t understand why these bloody uncultured frustrated Sri Lankans (who don’t have ten “heads” as you do) get so excited about a girl in a bra. Since you’re so sophisticated it takes more than a bra to make you feel aroused eh? Right….

    Personally I think it’s a good thing that they’ve got such a healthy interest in sex. Without the guilt and the taboos, sex would be terribly boring.


  50. “Without the guilt and the taboos, sex would be terribly boring.”

    JustMal has a good point here, except for the guilt part, which should only come if you are doing the guilty thing. You know, doing it with someone while in a relationship with someone else.
    Tell the above to the Slankan’s who so want to be liberated JUST like the west.
    I have read & seen on telly, stories about 20 something’s uninterested in sex (mostly girls & some guys) in their relationships, married/living together. Some said even once a month is too much. O_O
    My theory is they have copulated from their early teens with many people; it has now become a chore & a bore. Lol

    I bet if you compare statistics, SL couples will come thumbs up in copulation on a regular basis & wanting more.

  51. Just me, I think that sexual education is necessary because youth – at least some youth – will engage in sexual intercourse. In this day and age of STDs and unwanted pregnancies, wouldn’t it be in our interests to protect our youth, by explaining to them how exactly they are contracted and how to use protection so as not to contract these diseases? I’m not suggesting that this starts in say, grade 4, but at least after 0 levels, students should learn something about sexual issues. Our current practice is to let kids learn about sex “on their own.” I must say that for a relatively conservative society, I do not find that a very responsible position at all. Sexual education can take different forms and it is possible to mould it into our current cultural norms. For example, sexual education can take the position that sex among youths is normal, and thus concentrates on contraceptives and their proper use. Or, sexual education can take position that abstinence is the best way of preventing STDs and unwanted pregnancies. The latter position is something that is tenable and probably more appropriate for Sri Lanka. Personally, I have been brought up with the paradigm where sex is left until after marriage, and in my personal opinion (others may have different views) it is a healthy and sensible position, and I will be bringing up my children up in that paradigm as well.

    However, to have no sexual education at all would be short changing our youth, don’t you agree? So the solution is to strike a balance between our current cultural norms and sexual education which is pretty much nil at the moment.

  52. Just Me – You seem to assume that Sri Lanka is somehow sexually more moral than the West, or at least, that people are practising safe sex in Sri Lanka now. That is not the case. Much of the sex that IS happening is unsafe, and perhaps even sick. The prevalence of incest and pedophilia in our society is high. Also, the majority of men seem to cheat on their wives with prostitutes. This is unlike the situation in many countries in the West. And it is because we have a low tolerance for normal healthy sex and have such a shame complex about it. But the repressed drive has to go somewhere and often it comes out in all sorts of unpleasant ways.

    Just Mal – You still don’t get it. It’s not the lack of a healthy interest in sex. It’s the inability to do anything healthy about it.

  53. Ahh… but you have the ability to do something healthy about it, hence your superiority over the rest of the lankans. I see matchang. 😛

    Well I think they are doing something healthy as well. They are taking pictures of a stripper. What’s so unhealthy about it?

    Most ppl in Sri Lanka practice safe sex. I’ve never met a Lankan girl (except muslim chicks) who wouldn’t insist on condoms. Just because casual sex isn’t acknowledged in public, that doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent. There must be a reason for Sri lanka to have one of the world’s lowest STD/HIV figures and such a low birth rate.

    How old is videshi? Sex ed is a part of the health and fitness subject from grade 9 onwards. Lankan kids are quite well informed about sex, stds and other stuff. It’s just the ngots who say otherwise so that they could get funds for “awareness campaigns”.

  54. Are we going in circles here? I think we are! Videshi are you pulling a fast one on me?
    Videshi & ravana,
    *Yes, I agree, sex education is a good thing (I am not talking about the ‘ifs’, then we will go in circles again)
    *Yes I do believe we are (still) sexually more moral than the west, (per capita ratio) except for the minority of people, either blindly emulating the fashionable thing to do or whatever.
    *Incest is homegrown & due to lack of education, intoxication among other vices. Again, you hear about every single incident due to the size of the place.
    -Paedophilia is our incentive to lure fat ugly white men & their $$$$. No amount of sex education is going to stop those kids, unless their parents are saved from the cycle of poverty.
    *cheating on one’s partner is universal. You can’t attach the ‘lack of sexual freedom’ label on that.
    *No, I do not believe that people in SL practise safe sex. On the contrary, if stats on STD are anything to go by.

    ““This is unlike the situation in many countries in the West.””
    Here you go again,
    You make it out as if the west is sparkling (than us) in this regard. Sure people have more freedom in the west, YET there is incest, adultery, sex with animals, paedophilia……… The difference would be the price one has to pay for being caught a paedophile in those countries.
    In Sweden for eg: some parents encourage the siblings to have sex with each other to practice as well as for safety reasons. How sick is that?
    Repressed drive theory does not hold much ground does it.

  55. Justmal – That’s incorrect. Sex ed in SL is limited to one fo the last chapters of the Year 11 Science textbook, and is often skipped, because it is hardly ever examined in the OL exam, and the teachers are too embarassed.

    Also, it’s not my ability or disability I’m talking about. It’s the condition of society that allows it, or suppresses it. Clearly, these men are behaving like this because society has made them that way. It’s not just their values and beliefs that have restricted them in this way, it’s those of their wives, mothers, girlfriends and teachers, as well. I feel sad about this aspect of our society, but yes, I feel thankful that I have access to a in a sub-section of the Sri Lankan social environment that does not always subscribe to these values, but is influenced by it, nevertheless.

    Does this make me feel superior to these chaps? Well, I don’t think that’s really relevant, but yes. And I think anybody in their right mind should. Even people who are clearly NOT in their right mind, like Indrajith (i-Monk), feel superior to these chaps, and this is why he has reposted this photo on another forum. He loses all credibility when he agrees with my point on another site and disses me for it here. He says on the site linked below, “Lajjai!! ath aththai!! Mewage Gorakayo Americawata giyanam kohoma photo ganeeda??? Me gadha Gonek dakala mehemanam???”

    This is similar to the game you play, Just Mal, of trying to protect what you are ashamed of about our country, even when you know is true. You know very well, that Indrajith is not a peacenik, but you are ashamed of what the existence of a person like him reveals about our country, so you accuse him of being a peacenik troll trying to give the Sinhalese a bad name. You have no credibility, when you do that, don’t you see that, especially after you say you even hope he sticks to writing in Sinhala because then only we can understand it.

    This mentality of covering up is only going make society worse, not better.


  56. Just Me- where did you get that stuff about Sweden? I doubt that very much. if at all, those are isolated incidents.

    I don’t agree that we hear about all the incidents here. We only hear about the tip of the iceberg. The shame culture keeps incidents from being reported. There is a lot more sexual immorality in Sri Lanka than in the West.

    You can’t count things like sex with animals, homosexuality, and promiscuity as sexaul immorality because these don’t hurt other people. Sri Lanka’s problems hurt other people. I’m sure a lot of rape cases also go unreported. And the pedophilia ain’t restricted to the beaches. Even in schools and homes you get it.

  57. “There is a lot more sexual immorality in Sri Lanka than in the West.”
    Where do you get this kind of statistic?
    This is a universal phenomena. But “civilized” guys who hate Sri lankan society for some reason overlook the sexual immorality in western societies. THe worst thing you try to shrug off the offensive behaviour if those come from western societies as isolated incidents.

  58. In some ways Lankan “values” are better than the so called “West”, but in some ways they are worse. Yes, true that the “officially held values” of sexual morality are better in our country… but let’s face it, things that go on behind everyone’s back, things that are suppressed and hidden, are probably far worse… e.g., victims of incest or rape or pedophilia have far greater difficulty in getting justice here, than in the “West”. I’m simply pointing out that the issue is not a simple matter of Lankans (whether men or women) being more pathetic or more sick (or whatever we want to call it) than the West, *nor* vice versa.

    So rather than pointing fingers and comparing and so forth, what is more pertinent and useful is this:

    * recognize and admit the fact that the men in this picture ARE sick and perverted – to some extent only. But then, DO also follow up with an admission that those of us men who ogle women in our daily walks of life, are also sick. Don’t just single out the men who frequent incidents like the above; that’s unfair!

    * And equally fairly, one must recognize and admit that the strippers, hostess bar workers, porn stars, and so on are also sick: after all, providing “sick entertainment” to anyone (even to sick men – or women) is also, by itself, “sick”. The woman in the picture knew darned well that she is titillating these men; if she knew, then why do it? She is equally well to blame.

    The whole darned problem is that almost everyone has a very one sided view (often gender based, but that’s not particularly relevant right now). Of course most readers would crucify me for saying things like this this: but the fact is, sexual activity and titillation and so forth belongs only in a certain place and nowhere else – namely within a proper marriage; societies are and have been sexually perverse because most societies have allowed violations of the proper place of sex. (Just one error in the value system can lead to lots of problems – e.g., some of these guys may have formed wrong expectations, based on being engrossed in porn as teenagers, and now as married men who don’t get what they (wrongly) expect from their wives perhaps they are “starved” (starved of what they shouldn’t expect) and hence get overly excited by this woman. My point is NOT that these men are justified (they are not) but simply to show how a seemingly “trivial” moral violation can have far reaching long term consequences upon them and society.)

    And yes I know most readers will say I’m making extremist comments; most will claim that “sex is for marriage” is “old fashioned”! However, it seems extremist only because a large subset of our society is already too far gone in moral degradation and feels “everyone else does it, therefore it must be alright”; as a wise lady once told me, the problem with that aspect of our society, is that we behave like: “if you’re hungry, grab the nearest food and eat; if you’re thirsty, drink; and equally well, if you’re horny, … ” I.e., most of us fail to see that the need (and starvation) for food or drink is at a very different level from sexual needs; most of us feel sex is just another need which can be met at any time or place with anyone (or at best, fail to see the very limited (but worthy) place in which it ought to be met). I gather that this wrong value system is called “utilitarianism”. Wrong values are now so strongly embedded in us that most of us cannot see that my comment and by stand above is not extremist but is very true.

    * Someone points out “why is the woman’s face hidden?” I agree – why give special treatment, it shows this wrong one-sided attitude which I already mentioned. But in fairness, perhaps I should concede this: perhaps she is in dire financial need and therefore her unacceptable career choice is “understandable” although (morally) it remains unjustifiable. But why should J and L be more concerned about the woman than about the men: what about the men – perhaps some come from a very unhappy family and an awful nagging wife? Certainly that would not *justify* their doing things like this but might it not be *understandable*? Have concern for them too; so why not hide the men’s faces too? Play fair: both parties are doing something that’s wrong in the circumstances; so either hide both’s identities, or reveal both’s identities!

    * For all of us (and I am among them) who claim that one or both parties of the picture are sick or pathetic or whatever – let’s ALSO look at the dirt within ourselves too? So, do we men claim that we don’t lewdly ogle girls when clubbing or on the road or wherever, never use a camera phone even “just for fun”, never passed loud comments to a strange girl which make her uncomfortable or nervous (even if she was “just asking for it”), even if she was (accidentally or intentionally) showing loads of cleavage or other parts of the anatomy or whatever? Us men haven’t played the game of having to “show off our masculinity to each other” by trying to out-do each other in our lewd comments in such situations? And when have any of us men told each other “I say machang, don’t ogle her so much, she is standing there alone and it’s late night and she might feel uncomfortable or scared”? Over boys’ night drinks when our colleague tells us about his latest affair or when clubbing without our wives and we see him making out with someone when his wife is not around, then did I hypocritically laugh along with the rest of the “boys” [sarcasm intended] and congratulate my colleague on his latest 1st/2nd/3rd/home-base scoring, or did I decently say, “Machang, why are you boasting about having cheated on your poor wife (or playing around with a married woman, or whatever it was), I am shocked, where are your values?” Well? I bet most of us men would have either laughed, or at best would have said nothing in fear of being laughed at; very few of us would have had the guts to to say the “morally right” thing while knowing that every other man there would disagree or belittle us.

    But no, if we want to lament and open our mouths about the sickness of the people in the photo, then we also need to clearly and unambiguously lament and open our mouths about whatever else goes wrong among our known circle of friends and so forth.

    * Which leads to the next “be fair” point: how about the ladies out there who know perfectly well you’re putting out and being ogled and so forth… and yet go on doing the same? I recall a highly religious friend who got caught out once: she was conversing about clothing for an upcoming hen party and a man asked her “so are you gonna wear one of your revealing outfits” and she quite seriously replied “don’t be silly, this is a HEN party, there’ll be no men there”, and didn’t have a word to say when she realized her Freudian slip! Yet her justification for dressing in ways that some consider highly unsuitable, had always been “I dress to please myself” – clearly not the case in that situation!

    So if women (rightly) think men are desperate or frustrated to be getting excited at such trivial things as this woman, then the question also needs be asked, why do many (not all) women intentionally use revealing clothes to get men to ogle them! And even if the intention is not that, at a event where you know perfectly 90% of the men are gonna be thinking “dirtily” of you, then why continue to dress in that particular manner? Both parties are then at fault. And even if you’re a woman who does take great care, do you also open your moth and (gently!) tell off your girlfriends when they are making this mistake, or do you just gush over how they are dressed and thus inadvertently support them in their mistake?

    So let’s face it, lots of us “decent” men and women are also almost as bad as everyone in that photo, and are blind to this fact.

    * And to those (few?!) who may actually agree with me, well I think we must also recognize the other danger of going too much towards the other end of the extremism spectrum. That is, the real Victorian attitude towards sex is also wrong. We need to recognize that sex is not bad, our sexuality is a good noble and valued thing – but only in its proper place – and ought not to be treated as a taboo subject, but something that can be maturely talked about. Similarly, “revealing” clothes are not by themselves bad: but until both genders can treat the body with the correct respect that it deserves, certain sacrifices may need to be made about being careful about how one dresses. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that skimpy clothes (especially in a hot climate!) are NOT bad by themselves.
    Yet, too many people have a wrong notion (not always religiously based) that sex is bad and shameful and so forth; this can cause the dearth of sexual education (in the family, in schools, and even among young people themselves); the dearth about which some of you quite rightfully lamented. Nevertheless, sexual education which our country does so badly need, must go hand in hand with correct moral and ethical values – and here again one major problem is that people are too one-sided: either they are too much in the direction of thinking sex education means teaching kids to have “safe” sex and if you wanna have sex then “just do it” and no one has the right to say say sex belong to marriage… OR they’re at the other extreme and think the word sex should not even be mentioned. Sorry, but I firmly say both are wrong. Do teach sexuality to teens upwards, but also teach them family values, teach them about real marriage, teach them about the real place of sex, and also teach them how to be confident to speak out and behave correctly even in a society that has lost sight of these right values.

    * someone said “sex with animals, homosexuality, and promiscuity as sexaul immorality” don’t harm anyone. Well, that is only somewhat true, if comparing with pedophilia or rape for example. But the former do harm the fabric of society, because they bring a certain depravity to the whole concept of “real” sex. It unlikely that these things would result in any harm which is directly visible, no direct cause-and-effect, but in the long run these things too will harm society. Lack of recognition of the correct place of sexuality, is the root to all these problems.

  59. Oh gosh. My apologies (especially to the ladies). I’ve inadvertently misused a slang phrase in my previous comment.

    “…who know perfectly well you’re putting out and being ogled and so forth…”
    That’s not what I meant, what I meant was:
    “…who know perfectly well you’re putting out SIGNALS and being ogled and so forth..”

    I guess I simply meant, “giving out signals”.

    “Putting out” is quite ambiguous, my aplogies for my careless choice of words.

  60. Hi Gentleman,

    After see this image, you are hated the Sri Lankan boyes. But when it is in USA, UK, Paris – what are you doing there ? The answer, we know. You must rape this girl !

    I do not support the activities of images, but think the situation of your country also !

  61. this us girl must be thinking she’s from saturn or from somewher else!!!
    90 perc ent of porn sites are featured through american servers, and i have seen so many desperate american men stare gaping at nude dancers, and seen many american orgy parties on the net,,… feel pitty about the first commentator. she or he must be born yesterday in US

  62. American strip clubs makes fully naked, Sri Lanken Karaoke clubs does it to half naked. Secondly some times allow to take photos. Those are the reasons which made the difference.
    Sri Lanka does not allow thousands of Strip joints like America. As well as does not have thousands of porn stars, porn sites, live sex cams while America has all of them in millions.
    I just wondering he or she belongs to which century.May be one of the members of the first group who discover America

  63. Dear Ravana,

    A string of 78 comments, written on serious note, is quite a noticeable matter. Quite restrained pieces of writing .

    You must have reason of deleting the photo which is @ the centre of the discussion. REtain the string or copy it…. will be interest to a serious person with a bias towards sociology.

    Best wishes.

  64. I tend not to leave many remarks, but i did a few searching and wound up here What does this
    photograph reveal about Sri Lankan society? | ravana.
    wordpress.com. And I do have a few questions for you if it’s allright. Is it simply me or does it give the impression like a few of these comments appear like they are written by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional sites, I’d like to keep up with
    everything new you have to post. Could you make a list
    of the complete urls of all your community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or
    linkedin profile?

  65. So why seemed to get very good results by sticking almost 100% to the workouts.
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