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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.
Our population figures tell us that Indians are having at least as much sex as the rest of the world. Not all extramarital pregnancies are the result of rape. And from a purely scientific point of view, if there are so many conceptions, the number of sexual intercourse occasions has to be at least the same, if not higher. Let’s just face the fact that India has sex and needs to deal with all the issues and questions that come up with it.
I’ve generally steered away from getting too close into the bedroom in my writing and so sue me, I’m Indian, it’s ingrained in me to never publicly acknowledge sex. But we are in the utterly ridiculous state of gangrapes, burgeoning population rates, teenage pregnancies and child abuse so I think it’s time I stopped being coy. I’m talking about this.
I recently read a post on TheFrisky by a guy who was left confused by an almost-hookup with a girl who didn’t say no but didn’t exactly seem amenable either.
Flashing as flirty a smile as I could muster, I asked,
“Is everything okay? Are you cool with this?”
Her response wasn’t quite what I expected:
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just do what you need to do.”
This particular statement wasn’t spoken with annoyance or frustration or impatience. It also wasn’t spoken with any enthusiasm whatsoever. It was the most matter-of-fact, emotionless comment I had ever heard from someone I was in the midst of undress with.
Awhile ago, I also heard about an incident between two people I know. There was alcohol consumed and some hooking-up done. Later though, the accounts varied. The girl says that she was taken advantage of. The guy says that she was perfectly conscious and never once stopped him or said no. The girl says a combination of inebriation and shock worked against her.
And a few years ago, I was in a steady relationship with someone who wanted to go much farther and faster than I was comfortable. It caused a lot of problems for us. From the outside, it’s easy to say, “He was a jerk. You should have left him then.” But what makes it so difficult is that these moments don’t occur all the time. In a relationship, there are good moments of shared intimacy, laughter, fun and even love. And bedroom conflicts tend to get categorized with all other things that couples argue about. In this case, I gave in a lot of the times just to keep the peace. Those were the times when my Okays were really Nos.
In a more recent relationship, I was shocked to hear my partner tell me, that he felt he couldn’t always say No to me. It was a conversation that changed our relationship. I never felt comfortable around him again, always worrying that I might be unknowingly transgressing into predatory behavior that men are usually accused of. It opened a whole new dimension to an already complex issue. What about those times when a guy wants to say No? Is this solely a female prerogative?
Interestingly, the same morning that I read TheFrisky article that got me thinking, also brought me this other study by PsychCentral that talks about how people routinely keep up small deceptions in relationships. Ordinarily, much of these gets written off as compromises that one makes in a relationship. When there’s tension and bad blood, you can bet it infects everything in the relationship. Routine adjustments that we make everyday suddenly seem like severe compromises. And since sex isn’t something you can separate from the rest of the relationship, the murky depths suddenly fall into focus. The already grey area of relationship interactions is further complicated by the extreme intimacy and thus awkwardness, shyness and silence that couples and individuals maintain over sex.
And finally, as Indians I think we’re already experiencing the consequences of being caught between the devil and the deep sea. On one side, a repressive social structure that doesn’t allow us to even think about these things. On the other, an increasingly bigger-better-faster-more global village where we’ve access to ideas, actions, social systems and behaviors that require us to be prepared with these notions.
I carried a fair bit of guilt for a long time simply over being physically intimate, a fact that I think the guy used against me when he told me that this was road of no return. Even today, a lot of Indians believe in virginity, rape victim blame and condemning the sexually active as ‘promiscuous’.
All the above mentioned relationships ended and on sour notes, ranging from acrimonious break-ups to a loss of job in one case. It’s serious enough for us to need to talk about this. I don’t really have an answer. Realistically, how do we protect ourselves, first from unwelcome encounters and second from falling victim to misunderstood intentions?
Yesterday I heard a true story straight out of school. A pair of lovebirds coochie-cooing in the back benches of the classroom had everyone else hot and bothered. Eighth standard does seem rather young to be making out. But the hormonal teenage years are different for each of us so different strokes for different folks I guess (pun entirely unintended!).
A bunch of their classmates got together to ‘end this behaviour as it was making them uncomfortable’. The gossip doing the rounds was that guy would french-kiss the girl and slide his hand up to places that other people didn’t feel comfortable talking about. What’s funny is that these obviously took place in secluded places. The classmates had no qualms snooping onto the couple and watching them do things that suddenly, curiously they were uncomfortable discussing.
More curiously, their idea to end this went so far to approach the girl to tell her that her behaviour was not right. Correct me if I’m wrong but it takes two to make out (and several other things), doesn’t it?
It turned out that the girl took a dignified stance that it was no one else’s business (such self-containedness at that age!) but that if bothered people so much, she and her boyfriend would consider toning it down. She was not apologetic but rather proud of the fact that she had something special with another human being. Quite tragically, they broke up a year later when the guy cheated on her.
I wonder what how her classmates must have reacted. Given their self-righteous (not to mention chauvinistic) stance earlier, might they not have thought it served her right? Something else that struck me were the girl’s belief that her heart and her body belonged to the love of her life. Adolescence brings out the worst the dramatic in each of us. Yet, curiously enough, we never really hear a guy say those words, do we?
Our bodies seem like nothing more than property for men to have territory disputes over. And the invasions start pretty damn early.
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!