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She might marry later in life, but does that mean the Indian woman should ignore her sexual needs? For what? Societal judgement and parental disapproval?
When I was a kid, there was a blockbuster movie called Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. It was a about a certain good girl called Simran who lived in London. She fell madly in love with a boy called Raj. Simran was a “Hindustani ladki” whose “izzat” was very important to her, something Raj understood and respected. He could not even dream of taking away this precious “izzat” even after a drunken night.
As an eight year old audience, this became my idea of true love. A man who loves you would wait till marriage. But what about Simran? Did she want sex? The thought never struck me. Women don’t want sex! It is something boys want from girls. Something girls gave to worthy men who became their husbands.
Twenty-one years later, I watched a movie Piku. Piku was a regular, working, single woman who lived with her father. Marriage has not yet happened for her, probably because she had an aged parent to look after. When asked about her sex life she would say, “It is a need!” Her father made a reference to some of her “casual” relationships as a better alternative than getting married and taking care of a grown man.
Simran was 18. Piku was 28. Two decades have passed. Piku represents the modern Indian woman. She does not marry at 18. She marries in her late twenties or much later, or never. Maybe she has not found the one. Sometimes there may be a desire to get married but there may be a limitation such as focus on career or some personal responsibility. Sometimes she just does not want to get married at all. She does not owe us any explanation because we consider ourselves modern. We have conditioned our minds to accept that marriage is not the ultimate goal of life for a woman.
But this woman is still a human being. Human beings have needs. Where does the single, Indian woman fit in this scheme of managing her sexual needs with societal judgment, parental disapproval, and emotional consequences?
Until a generation ago, women waited for a commitment from a man. They withheld sex until marriage. Then came the millennials. Terms such as clitoris and female orgasm came into prominence. Vibrators became popular. Women realized that they wanted and enjoyed sex too. Our understanding of equality meant that we could have sex for ourselves. Not to please a man. Not to procreate. It also meant that we had more freedom to choose a partner for ourselves. We need not marry a stranger. We could marry someone we like. We could meet, date, and mate, making a conscious choice.
Of course it is okay to wait until marriage. It is a personal choice. But is it sensible to put marriage as a precondition for sex? What if there is no marriage on the cards? Women are now taking their time to get married and may postpone the step well into their 30s or 40s. Should we also expect them to be virgins till then? Being a virgin benefits who exactly? The woman? The non-existent / future husband?
“I think I will meet that Tinder guy I have been chatting with. I have not been with a man in so long!”
“Again and again you fall for the wrong guys! You go out with guys who want just a fling, hoping that it will turn into a relationship! Then you become sad! Find a stable relationship!”
“I am trying to find a guy for marriage. But none of these guys want to commit. But you know how it is… No one has touched me in ages!”.
“Well why is sex so important for you?”
“Yes! So many women manage without sex. Even after marriage. Like if your husband works in Dubai, you live in India! They don’t go sleeping around!”
“I am not saying I am sleeping around! Just said I miss sex, and want to have it.”
“Well someone who wants to have a lot of sex is a sex addict!”
“What!! Last time I checked they were just called humans!”
The above conversation happened between two progressive, working women living in India. The girl who was looking for someone was single, around 30. She may have been involved in a couple of brief relationships. The one advising her was 40 with two kids, who got married when she was 23 and had a decent sex life with her husband for seventeen years. Who has had more sex? The older one. Yet, the older one shamed the younger one because the sex she had was within marriage and therefore sacred. According to her, the younger one was looking for pure lust and oh so sinful!
Oxytocin is a chemical released in both men and women after we have sex, just in very different doses. A higher dose is released among women. It is also called the “attachment molecule,” or “cuddle hormone”.
“These hormones activate the brain circuits for nurturing behavior while switching off the caution and aversion circuits. In other words, when high levels of oxytocin and dopamine are circulating, your judgment is toast.”
Dr. Sara Celik, a professional speaker and licensed naturopathic doctor says,
“Ladies, you’re bonded hormonally during sex and unfortunately, your male partner usually isn’t – at least not in the same way. Healthy? I don’t think so. This is often the basis for unhealthy relationships that women create for themselves. Before you’re intimate with the guy that you’re dating, confirm that he wants to bond with you emotionally as well as physically.”
This is probably why some women may end up ‘falling for’ men even when they started out knowing that it may not be a serious relationship. However, this may not be true for all women. I have friends who may not have got emotionally attached, and enjoyed the brief encounters for what they were.
If I were to conclude this topic, I would like to tell the ladies that I am as confused as they are. There is no right or wrong in this. There is no judgment either. It is your life and it is meant to be lived. But if at all I could give my personal opinion, I would say don’t worry about society, or hold yourself back because of any other regressive ideas that were ingrained is our minds during our rather conservative upbringing.
What is more important is to protect yourself emotionally and physically (Take care that you are not signing up for STDs and unwanted pregnancy)! Do not feel ‘used’ if the man ends up leaving you. You made a choice. Accept it. You are not a pair of shoes that will get used and worn out for the next ‘user’. It does not matter if the man promised to marry you. As an adult, you are in charge of your body. You do not need to justify your choice.
There may be a conflict between your brain, heart and body. It is okay. You may be a Simran, a Piku or a Minal (Pink) or a combination of all of them in a lifetime. It is okay. Please remember that your sexual choices do not define you. You are much more that all of those.
Author’s Note: The views expressed in this article are personal. I am no relationship expert. Just a regular, confused Indian woman figuring out my life.
Image source: are screen grabs from the movies DDLJ and Piku