A True Hero

« July 2014 »

Memo to Dr. Mahinda Watsa: YOU ARE A HERO.

It's rare that I turn this space over to honest, sincere praise, but every once in a while, I come across the story of someone fighting stupidity in a way I could only dream of, against mind-staggering odds. Dr. Mahinda Watsa is one such man. Dr. Watsa is a goddamned hero.

Dr. Watsa is a sex education columnist in India. Now, being a sex ed columnist anywhere is some fairly noble work, because way too many people are still way too fucked up about sex. But as much as I love Dan Savage, I think he'd agree that he has it pretty easy. He self-selects for an audience that, while not entirely clueful, usually has a problem that's far enough outside the mainstream that you can sort of understand how they might need to ask someone for help.

Dr. Watsa, on the other hand, has an audience of people who missed out on not only the basic sex education most of us are used to, but also the backup sex ed of "the streets" and "the Internet". His audience includes lots of people whose first sexual relationship is an arranged marriage, and comes from a culture whose attitudes toward female virginity would seem harsh even in a Liberty University women's dorm.

And he's 90. And has been doing it for FIFTY YEARS. And he hasn't given up out of disgust with the human race.

This is not to say he takes shit from anybody. Here, via the BBC, is his recent answer to yet another query from a man asking how he can be sure any bride he ends up with is a virgin. ACTUAL SUBCONTINENTAL MOTHERFUCKING SMACKDOWN TIME!

"I suggest you don't get married. Unless you appoint detectives, there is no way to find out. Spare any poor girl of your suspicious mind."

On the off chance Hindu doesn't have a word for "pwnage" yet, I believe "watsa" is available. Why should American sex columnists be the only ones who get to turn proper names into words?

Over his career, he's written for anyone who would publish him, from women's magazines to soft-core porn mags. His current newspaper has been accused of obscenity and threatened with lawsuits. And he gets letters from people asking for second opinions on penis enlargement, having gotten their first opinion - yank on it while praying - from an astrologer. HERO.

I don't know how he does it, but the BBC interview does reveal why. One of his inspirations was attending an international Planned Parenthood conference in 1957, where he met a Japanese doctor who saved women's lives by giving them abortions - because otherwise they would have committed suicide.

If Planned Parenthood had done nothing else, helping give the world Dr. Mahinda Watsa would still make them worthy of our unrelenting support. Kudos to you, Dr. Watsa, for 50 years of pushing back against the darkness.