Friday, 23 December 2011

Being Indian: Sexuality

It's a three letter word. It has so much do with life and yet we choose not to talk about it. It's use is abundant in adjective form. In the movies, in the tabloids, on the streets. India is a country with a raging population of over a billion people. The way things are going I wonder how these people got here. Since nobody's ever talking about sex.

My experiences with this word have been many. Right from my teens, there was that aunt who didn't let me watch a Toni Braxton video on MTV. Or that time she told me Friends was a bad tv show. Of course, there is the awkward experience of reading an illustrated book that explained the act of sex when I was 11. I had just hit puberty. And of all the ways to educate me on the subject, I was given a book. A dirty book.

I remember clearly stumbling upon my mother's lingerie when I was a child and she would hurriedly put it away saying I wasn't the right age. I never remember asking my parents where I came from. I guess even as a child I knew that here and now wasn't the time to ask questions. That I think is the biggest problem with the current society.

Today, 26 years old, I understand everything there is to know about sex. And I believe that the road to now could have been a lot smoother. I wish that my mother had sat me down and told me everything about sex. Approaching the subject objectively, warning me that if sex must be practised, it should be practised safely. I wish she had told me that I was going to start growing breasts so when they came I wouldn't be ashamed of them but embrace them. I wish she had told me that one day I was going to start bleeding, so I didn't think I was dying.

Nobody's ever talking about sex here. I visited a gynaecologist early 2011 and in my appointment, I asked her what kind of birth control I should use.

She very confidently said “Once you get married, sex will be safe.”

How does a legal written document or a ceremonial procedure make sex safe? A perfect case of moral policing, this doctor thought it was better to advice me on what is right and wrong morally rather than look out for my physical well-being. Pre-marital sex is often frowned upon in this country. The ironic thing is that it is so rampant that the frequency of abortions is very high. I know many women who have had abortions, some in their early weeks and some very painfully past their trimester.

In fact, I have had an abortion. When I think of pain, I think the most that I have gone through is minutes after inserting that tablet up my vagina. I went through it with my mom on my side who thought it was a mere heat stroke. I never told her because I was ashamed. I thought that despite being so aware of the dangers of having unprotected sex, I had made such a stupid mistake. Months after the dreadful life changing procedure, I started talking. I discovered that many women around me went through the same thing. They were all ashamed for the same reason. I realized I wasn't alone.

At that point I realized this country has got to start talking about sex. Yes, the i-pill advertisements are quite the progress. But any open-minded gynaecologist will tell you that taking an i-pill Is asking for disaster. I myself have had migraines and 14 day long periods just because I took an I pill. Where are the PSAs about birth control? About condoms? Where are the instances of abortions and safe pre-marital sex in our Indian soaps? Why is it that I'm a large part of a majority and still portrayed as a minority?

I am no longer ashamed. I was 24 when I had to get an abortion. I was not financially or emotionally stable enough to raise a child. I made the right choice. And many people would agree with that. Why bring a child into this world if you don't have the responsibility to raise him/her? Think about it.

I recently had the most interesting online conversation with a writer from Mumbai about sexuality. I asked him what he thought of homosexuality and his response was quick. He said that when people are unable to find partners of the opposite sex, they just turn to their own sex. As a bi-curious person, I gasped and wondered how somebody who was a writer, a person with an inspirational role could say something so ignorant. When I told him that I myself might be bisexual, he started questioning me. If I had kissed a woman, if I had licked a cunt. Soon into the conversation I realized that on the other end of this network was a man with his dick in his hand. I stopped discussing my sexual life with him. He said he needed research for his book because he wanted to add a few sexual chapters and hadn't had sex.

I went on to give him links to erotic stories that I had written when I was experimenting with the genre. I had found that writing erotica was challenging. A little too challenging. I didn't know if it was my lack of knowledge in the kinky areas of life or that my metaphors had run out, I had only 2 stories to my credit. I shared it with him and told him that if I found any kind of plagiarism I would sue his sorry ass. He insisted that I tell him in conversation how my love making sessions went. I refused. Minutes later he turned around and said “This is not Indian culture” He compared me to Silk Smitha and said I would deserve a similar death. I went on to ask “What the fuck is Indian Culture?” to which he responded by saying I had abused his country and that I was a bitch.

Now, here's what I find absolutely disgusting about this experience. The minute I told him I could be bisexual he started to hit on me. I have had similar experiences before. Sharing my erotic writings with fellow writers have turned into misinterpreted invitations for sex. When men say they like big boobs, do you see me putting on a padded bra and asking them out? No. What is so wrong with a woman being open about her sexuality? And the worst is that this writer from Mumbai thought that writing erotica was wrong. We all know that a majority of people indulge in visual pornography if not written. Why the sudden hypocrisy?

At the end of this rant, I very plainly ask. What is so wrong about talking about sex? Isn't that how you and me got here? Isn't it a natural urge in life? There are a number of crimes in this country that arise from lack of sex education. When are we going to wake up? We have a serious problem with the lack of family planning and birth control. Our resources are limited. All I can say if there's no better time, it's now that we've got to start talking about sex, baby!


  1. I can imagine all the crap you have to face when you try to explore your natural body processes. This is precisely what people do not get. Sex is NATURAL!
    There should be a stronger push from the government and society in general to educate themselves, Ignorance is unacceptable.

    And I'm not really surprised about your episode with the writer, after all, he was a virgin, bet you were the only one who ever shared any intimate content with him. =P

    Anyway, great write up
    Cheers =)'

    PS: Erotica is easy, best way to start is get the right stage, imagining the setting is the best way to set the story in the mood. It's not so much about the kinky as it is about the mood of their surroundings.

  2. being in control is so hyped in men's mind that we have made a world where women have to control themselves for us. I personally think a free women is more beautiful and a challenge for a man to grow. Sex is a big taboo and we Indians do like to hide it in deep closets of our lives. Being hypocritical is so in fashion because as a community we had a spiritual past. But what we don't accept is that spiritual past was also an open accepting past. Hope we do the same again...

  3. I love the tone of this post. So well phrased and so direct. You are well addressing issues I wish we ask each other everyday.

    Your experience makes me question some things. Why is it that its okay for him to put some sex scenes in his "novel" but wrong for you to write erotica? Exactly who is he having sex with?

    About contraception, totally such a taboo topic. A gynaec once told a friend of mine, "Why have sex before marriage then?"

    So does this notion mean after marriage we don't use protection anymore.

    Love the post. Keep them coming. :)

  4. The phallic dominance metamorphoses in different ways, one such way is to suppress the female sexuality to establish his own. You have brilliantly put in words the irrationality of the social sphere we are a part of. The part about homosexuality in your essay caught my attention, and I would like to comment that the whole social-political dynamics of the society is structured on the male homosexuality, where women are the objects( gifts) used for establishing intense relationships between them, and yet it is the men who deny it the most. Maybe because the patriarchal society will fall apart if the pretense were gone( Refr. Irigaray).

    And please tell the 'writer' of Mumbai, that a writer of New Delhi told him that as long as he uses his dick as his pen, the chances are he will never be read by the intellectual mass.

  5. "No sex please! We are Indians!!". yup true we don't talk about sex we just have lots of it! What else could explain our population???
    We are hypocritical when it comes to the topic of sex! We don't want to address it, talk about it leave alone even say the word!! But we are quick to take credit for the fact that we are from the land where Kamasutra was born.

    I am very lucky to have studied in a school which believed that sex education was important. While i admit that the classes then were a little uncomfortable to sit through, I learnt quiet a bit. Yes I could have learnt so much more. For instance they did not broach the subject of homosexuality. It was years later when I learned that it was not a choice but how we were born. Most schools and teachers probably shy away from sex education thinking that it will encourage students to indulge in the act. Little do they realize that their students are probably already experimenting.

    I admit we as a nation, race have a long way to go. The first step is to accept that sex is natural, we would all not be here without it(unless some of you think you were born through divine intervention.

  6. Sex is made the scapegoat for people who are not fully capable of understanding it themselves. It is neither as corrupting as it is made out to be nor as all-consuming. It is not merely confined to the body but people love to think that so that they do not have to think about it in any other light.
    I completely agree with the fact that hypocrisy rules its perception and this is not merely limited to India but is a worldwide phenomenon.Even the western countries which show so much of it, tend to degrade it more than anything else.
    I'm just beginning to understand these things for myself, and I've written a book on the same called Skid Marks of Logic. Its coming out in March. I hope you will support me in fighting for this cause, especially as concerns women.
    The facebook group for the same is