It could be a lot of things. Commitment. A bribe. A power game. Love? Not necessarily.
And there are things that have got nothing to do with sex. Like good looks. Religion. Rebellion. Daddy issues. Mommy issues. Alcohol.
Everybody has a problem with sex. This is because everybody has problems. We spend our lives trying to figure out how to journey through the madness that is each other. How could those not show up in our sex?
It will hurt. Physically, maybe. Emotionally, definitely. There is so much that will surprise you & continue to surprise you every minute you breathe & move around other people. The sight of someone’s forearm. The musk of a stranger as they pass. The back of a head you used to know really well. Surprises aren’t always good, even if the sex is. You’ll never realise how much your life is based on assumptions about sex, until they’re broken.
I’ve heard people describe themselves as ‘very sexual’ and mean promiscuous. I don’t like the term promiscuous because it has a whiff of judgement about it. One might say “I’m a sexual person” because there are other people who are asexual beings. And there are people who have sex but it doesn’t form a big part of their identity. I say it to mean that sex is an integral part of how I relate to another person. It doesn’t mean I have sex with a lot of people or even a lot of sex with some people. It just means that sexual awareness is an intrinsic of my identity & my connections with others.
Sex isn’t a mechanical act that can be boiled down to a precise contract or formula. It’s the very act of living & being who we are. Only living creatures have sex. How can we bring objectification into it?
I hide when we make love
I hide the way refugees hide in their own country
I hide inside my body
It’s a nice body
It has the right curves, the perfect inches
It gets a part in every male fantasy that auditions it
But it leaves no room for me
He kisses me hard on the mouth
His hand reaches between my legs
This body responds on cue
It opens at the perfect angle
Makes the right sounds
All the while
I’m making space for him
Because a man
As a guest or an intruder
Is still an outsider to this body
He moves in at will
Overpowers my inside & my outside
I’m pushed into corners
Making things easier, softer,
more comfortable for him
When he finishes, I think it’s my turn
To recolonize my body
I start to reclaim my sensations
But his hand reaches for my breast
Once again the body obeys his command
So I tell myself
I will find my being in words
I’m a writer after all
But he rolls over & breathes peppermint-and-sex laced words
into my face
BABY YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL
BABY I LOVE YOU
This question rises like a bubble to my brain
Explodes like a 100 firecrackers, bombs
It poisons my endorphin high
DO YOU KNOW ME? DO YOU SEE ME?
But he doesn’t answer because he’s asleep
He didn’t hear it because I didn’t say it
The last time he said I love you, I said why
And he said
Baby, you are wise, you are wonderful
You’re Superwoman with your red lipstick, your angry words
You’re my baby
These are his words
They leave when he does
My red lipstick smeared all over his body
What happens when he takes a bath?
Does this Superwoman run in the wash?
And this body that’s programmed to answer to his command
That responds on cue to his comments
Is just a colour-by-dots mass of cells
In his answer, in his words
I’m not me within my own body
But his hand reaches around this waist
And I’m scurrying to the crevices of my knees
Because those are places he never goes
This beautiful fantasy of his is pushing me into dark corners
And I’m a refugee, I’m hiding
Sometimes I bleed salt from my eyes
He pats my back, decides it’s PMS
And tells me it’ll be alright, baby.
That’s who I am
Hiding in the bylanes of my body
When he says
BABY I LOVE YOU
Do you remember your last kiss? Everyone remembers their first, like we remember our landmark birthdays. But kisses lose their significance as we get older and more experienced in matters of touch.
As our social rituals morph, we find our notions of personal space shifting. Once we gingerly raised clasped hands for a rendition of We Are The World. Now we find ourselves gripping strangers hands as ritual hellos. We shared tiffin boxes, school benches, computers and a football with the opposite sex so long as it followed the rules of ‘healthy not filthy contact’. Growing up in a Catholic school, I went to Christmas dinners & Easter feasts where I was routinely pecked on the cheek by babies, friends and adults of all genders. Touch was a confusing world to navigate.
A kiss is that absolute borderline between personal space and affectionate contact. It’s significant enough to remember the first time that was crossed. But is it no more than a gateway to more, a threshold that once crossed requires no further attention?
The 😘 passes easily between friends, flirting couples and all manner of non-professional conversations. Yet, those of us who remember all the things a kiss can mean are slower on the uptake. In reply to this emoji, I once sent a picture (like above but without dice). To my great dismay, there was no reply. To greater embarrassment, I discovered that the recipient had thought I was saying goodbye.
“Because that is a flying kiss.”
was the reply. FLYING KISS, that delightful gesture of ‘Goodbye but affectionately’ that we teach children. Why don’t we remember that a kiss can mean all these things but always, always affection?
Recently, a friend grabbed me in what was going to be a hug and laid a big SMACK. It reminded me of how lovely it is to be kissed. A kiss is a world of tangible more than smiling eye contact. It has the sweetness of “I LIKE YOU” before the politics of gender & relationship. Show your affection with a kiss (consensually, of course). Be sure to enjoy it because affection is good and so is a kiss.
Now that we’re all adult and modern and can talk about sex openly, let’s.
Only let’s not do that dialogue about repressed sexuality, about the male fear of women’s sexuality about all the cliches. Let’s talk about how women feel about their own sex, shall we? Wait, The Vagina Monologues already did that, didn’t they?
Okay fine, but let’s do more of it. Because this here is a blog and we love talking about ourselves and not enough of it gets done and it’s always about how we are in relation to men. I say enough, I want to talk about me, about how I am whether men exist or not (well, obviously they do because sex, right?). I want to know how other women feel about themselves.
So sex. One of my first and most deeply entrenched ideas has been (Note the use of ongoing present tense or whatever that thing is called) that all my body organs will fall out of my vagina. Think about it. Gravity. So much stuffed into one body. A hole right at the bottom. Yeah. Of course I worry when I cough or sneeze or well, shit too hard.
Then there’s the one about the man being an intrusion. Look at even the language of sex. Penetrate. Bang. Ram. Horny. Hitting that. At the other end of it is the too coy, the nauseatingly abstract. Making love. Becoming one. Barf.
I have learned that sex does not have to be, actually should never be painful. Well, not you, 50 Shades of Grey peeps. My body is wonderfully designed to stretch, to contract, to bend, to twist in all manner of ways. Not inefficiently did Mother Nature design a body that could sustain multiple orgasms. But it’s learning that has come over time, over much challenging and forcing my way through preconceived notions, over inhibitions and over censure. It’s been a mental as well as a physical journey.
How do I feel about having sex? Outside of love, outside of control, outside of social norms, outside of all of that. Ever ask yourself that? Do. It’s one of the most fundamental things your body can do, should do.
I like it. There’s no ‘with the right person’ because that’s too much like a romcom and life, I know has been nothing like that to me. I like it when it’s on my terms, when it is fun, when it carries respect but not reserve and when it goes through and ends with both of us feeling pleasant about it and each other. And there just isn’t enough of that going around.
Tinder, you suck. I don’t even want to meet the men on it, let alone do anything with them. Hookup, what a horrible word. It makes me think of Captain Hook and which sane woman would want that going into her?
I was a virgin for way longer than most people suspect. It’s hard to say why. Early in my life I met a man (boy?) who forced himself on me and tried every mindfucked trick in the book. (“If you don’t give me what I want, I’ll go elsewhere”, “When a guy doesn’t have sex for long, he falls sick”, “You are so ugly, nobody but me will want to have sex with you”). It scarred me for a long time, yes. Also, the only way I kept some vestige of self-respect and control over my own body was by telling him that I wanted to save myself up for marriage. I don’t know how much I believed it. I do know that that idea carried me through what could have been a much more damaging situation than it was. And an idea that saves you, deserves to have a prominent place in your life.
As it turned out, my first time – and I will not call it ‘losing my virginity’, ugh what a horrible way to put it, so materialistic, so fear-ridden – was with someone I loved very much and who I believe loved me then. We were also going to get married. We didn’t and that’s a different thing.
Reconciling that fact took time because it also brought up other things that people don’t normally think are related. What if the reason I had not found the right man was that I should have been looking for the right woman? And what about children? Funny isn’t it, we never tend to think of how we feel about children in the same conversation on how we feel about sex. Oh wait, there are no conversations about how we as women feel about sex.
Two years ago, I reconnected with a childhood friend. Now all grown up, she leads the kind of single, sexed up life that is the stuff of crusty Indian politicians nightmares. She describes herself as ‘a bad girl’ and she does this with a laugh. Look how she has internalised the slut-shaming we are subjected to.
I want to believe that if I do something, it’s got to be worth doing. And if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And there is no shame in that, only pride. And fucking self-respect. Heh. Fucking self-respect about fucking. If you don’t got it, it ruins everything wonderful about sex.
Some days I think about what it must be to be a testosterone-fueled being and I think I’m better off. I want to believe that it’s a myth that male libidos are bigger than female libidos. I mean that doesn’t make sense. My gender is the one that can go on longer, have multiple orgasms and hell, has many hundreds of more nerve endings (thus pleasure points). Momma Nature would never have put all that in a body that just didn’t feel like it much. What nonsense.
I do think that testosterone makes creatures impatient, perhaps even foolish and one-minded. For most of my life I have not had sex. Sometimes it’s been when I did have somebody in my life; sometimes it has been when I didn’t. It sucks to not have sex when you are with someone. But when there isn’t, well, there just isn’t. And there I fall into the opposite trap from slut-shaming, the celibacy-shaming. Why is it such a big deal whether someone wants to have sex or not? What is burning need for it? There are 7 billion of us running around the planet and stepping on each other’s toes. We really don’t need to make more human beings. And as for pleasure – it’s only pleasurable when you’re not doing it under pressure.
Signing off now. No, not to go have sex but because I’m tired. Yes that happens too. There may be such a thing as enough sex.
Some home truths about sex.
It is open to a wide variety of interpretations. That completely depends on you and your partner. And each of you may have a different take on it, in which case, God help you. It could or could not be a lot of things.
Commitment. A bribe. A transfer of respect. A power game. Love.
Then there are things that have got nothing (or should not be allowed to have anything) to do with it. Whatsoever.
Good looks. Religion. Rebellion. Alcohol & drugs.
It hurts. A lot. Physically, sometimes. Emotionally too. But most of all, in what a surprise it is. There’s much that you never understood, no matter how many books you’ve read, how many conversations you’ve been a part of. There’s much that will surprise you, no matter how much you’ve already had before. And anybody, anytime has the potential to surprise you. That surprise is not always a good thing, even if the sex is. You never realize just how much of your belief system is founded on certain assumptions of sex and sexuality, until they’re broken.
Everybody has a problem with sex. This is because everyone has problems. And it boils down to this. It’s a fundamental need, for one. But it is also the most fundamental way in which we relate to each other. It’s practically the building block of civilization. We spend our lives trying to figure out how to deal with life and to journey through the madness that is each other. How could those problems not turn up in our sex?
These problems do not mean that sex will not be pleasurable. But there’s much that gets released other than key fluids during the most intimate act two human beings can share (apart from childbirth). Fears, repressed notions, hidden states of being – yes they’re all in there imprisoned inside you. And guess what, with sex, you’ve gone and peeped into the dungeons. You may even let one or two escape by mistake. And that’s problematic.
These problems don’t go away by having more sex. Or by having sex with a different person. Or sex in a different way. Or with having sex at all (if you haven’t before). Or for that matter, abstaining from sex. You’re going to have to figure out the best way to deal with those problems and not let your sex life become a problem as well.
Stuff happens when you have sex. Something shifts within. Some things get released and other things take their place. You feel better for awhile. Scientists tell us that’s endorphins. You may go through the gamut of guilt, shame, fear, wonder, awe, affection, confusion. If you don’t feel anything at all, then you’ve got the MOTHER of all problems. Please see a doctor and sort it out. This problem may be the worst STD of all.
If you’ve ever had the misfortune of a bad experience relating to sex (peer pressure, abuse, rape), then that experience is going to stay with you. It would be comforting to hear that everything will get sorted out and you’ll never remember it again. That’s a lie. The truth of violation or violence or both will never be erased. It will be there with you, right in your bed with the blankets and sheets and the other person. But, as with every other fear, you can learn to live with it and not be stopped by it. Yes, this is possible but don’t make the mistake of expecting that life will deliver that justice to you on a platter. It won’t. As unjust as the past may have been, it will still, unfortunately, be up to you to get past it and build a better world for you to live in.
Never let somebody else’s judgement, morality or ideas cloud your ideas of sex. It’s just not worth it. Taking on someone else’s notions is like throwing a little carbon monoxide into an already foggy, smoky place. Also remember that as a member of this society, certain things are defined as legal, ethical and decent. Be aware of those boundaries and for your own sake, respect them. But inside your mind, run free because if you don’t, you’ll inevitably lapse outside and that’ll be a lot worse.
It’s not really that different from life. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not worth the price. You pretty much won’t know for sure till it’s all over so try to relax and enjoy it.
Time for another XXFactored post already! So much has been happening this woman’s own life that I’m afraid I’ve been lagging behind in the spectator stakes. Maybe what I’m reading mirrors what I’ve been thinking. Here’s what was up with March 2011:
- A basket of goodies from the queen of confessions who lists the different kinds of sex (via TheCompulsiveConfessor)
- Daughterly guilt and who’s fighting it – Google, Infosys! (via EconomicTimes)
- A personal account of bust enhancement surgery and its aftermath. Forget sniggering, this really makes me want to say “No judgement” (via DailyMail)
- Is this the truth behind all those annoying ‘happily ever after’ couples? Meet a woman who wants Facebook to know that she’s married and ‘It’s complicated’! (via YourTango)
- Do some of the phrases that gain popularity, make you cringe? Dating terminology that we need to ditch (via YourTango)
- Couples fight more than 300 times a year! I don’t know about you but that certainly makes me feel better! (via Glamour)
- How ironic that we talk about the emotional/moral/social aspects of virginity and totally neglect the physical? 7 things you didn’t know about the hymen (via YourTango)
- Lalita Iyer of HT Cafe’s Chickwit column presents her take on a chauvinistic comedian’s act (via Chickwit)
- And finally a bit of a self-plug (I think I’ve earned it!): Do check out some of my top-of-the-line posts at Yahoo! Real Beauty. A few of them are sparking off a storm in the teacup there!
The recent India Today poll looks at the importance of financial independence, sexual satisfaction, romance and emotional security in a relationship. I’m most intrigued by inference that about half of urban India links sex & earning capacity while the other seems indifferent. That’s a neat but disturbing split right down the middle of this generation.
Most people now accept that it is important, almost necessary to be a double-income family in order to be able to even consider having all the benefits that urban life has to offer. We’re still struggling with the emotional upheavals caused by the changes in societal order but the need of the hour is to bring in the bucks and fast. So we’re all getting into the workplace as soon as we can and racing ahead at our best pace. But we haven’t quite figured out how that makes us feel about each other, have we? Does the average man feel emasculated by the equal or better earning power of his partner? Does the woman feel like the man is falling short of the deep-rooted standards of male superiority? And how does the relationship endure the burden of these frustrated expectations? I think the jury is still out on that one and where else would the confusion make its presence felt but in the bedroom?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.