Expecting A Sati Savitri In A Woman? Who Are You To Judge Her Sexual Needs?

Women’s Web is bringing the popular #BreakingBarriers event to Pune, Panjim, Hyderabad, Kolkata & Coimbatore. Register

Stop judging women who own their sexual needs – who are you to decide for them? The recent debates over Veere di Wedding and Lipstick Under My Burkha are a sign that mindsets need changing.

The recent “grandmother unfriendly” movie Veere di Wedding, and the “lady oriented” Lipstick under my Burkha have raised a new debate:

Why has feminism become about sexual liberation?

Is having one night stands the benchmark of being progressive?

Is masturbation empowerment?

Honestly, I have not even watched Veere di Wedding. The trailer did not appeal to me. Do these movies look crass to us? Maybe. Is it uncomfortable to watch them with family? Probably. As an audience, we have every right to reject a movie. But does that mean we start attacking feminism and how immoral the society has become because of it?

The ‘mohalle ki aunty’ syndrome

Actress Sandhya Mridul recently shared her experience of being a single woman, judged by friends and strangers alike, for the number of men she has ‘apparently’ slept with, as they are never sure of the number.

This is a very common judgment done by women for other women, even for the ones they call their friends. Friends who have been married for years, or committed to the same guy for years do not know what it is like to NOT have a regular, legal partner whom you can sleep with. Not everybody gets married at 25, and stays married to the same person till death do them apart!

Most human beings want romance and love, in addition to sex. But some of them don’t find someone with whom they want to share their whole life. Some may not even want to get married. Some get divorced. Some get widowed. Some have boyfriends who do not want to marry them. For some, any relationship does not last more than three months.

Does that mean that they should live their whole life in celibacy? Will society gain any benefit by ensuring that two consenting, single adults abstain from sex? Are these consenting adults causing any harm to anyone else by indulging in a private activity?

Who gets to decide what is moral and what is not? For someone a one-night stand may be unthinkable. For another person, having pre-marital sex with a fiancé may also be wrong! Some may be okay with casual relationships. Others may want commitment first.

Who cares!! Grow up!

Gandi Baat, Gandi Gandi Gandi Baat!

When I was young, there was a TV serial that used to come on television called ‘Aurat’ starring Mandira Bedi. I was very little and did not understand the mature content of the show. But I did listen to the dialogues intently. Once some guests had come over to my place, and somebody brought up the show. I wanted to add value to the conversation. I said, ‘Woh serial aurat aur mard ke rishte ke baare mein!’ My family was completely shocked and embarrassed by my statement! I was scolded and it was decided I should not be watching adult serials!

Even when the Monica Lewinsky–Clinton controversy came up I would read in the newspapers about their ‘Yaun sambandh’. When I would ask any adult what it meant, I was asked to stop saying dirty things!

Why am I talking about this? Dirty! Wrong! Bad! Don’t! These words stay with you. I continued to grow up with the mindset that sex is something totally immoral and one should wait till marriage.

Ladki Ganga ki tarah pavitra hai – the many perils of this mentality

This kind of mindset also leads to the belief or rather stems from the belief that virginity is a gift to be unwrapped by the husband on the wedding night.  It is a destructive thought which reeks from male entitlement.

It has multiple ramifications that are problematic:

Rape victims’ identity is kept anonymous. Because – ‘honour’.

My body belongs to my future husband. If my body is violated, it is a dishonor to the future husband who is the beneficiary of this body and also a dishonor to my family that was supposed to protect my honour and hand it over to my husband so ceremoniously!

Sex is something women give and men take!

No wonder! The ‘O word’ for women used to be a myth.

Marital rape struggles to find a place in the legal ambit!

Rape by husband? What is that?! The woman should not refuse him! Where is the poor guy supposed to go!

The other end of the spectrum

A friend of mine turned 42 last year. She has never been married. Her family has been searching for a match for her for a long time. She was in a relationship some 15-20 years back but that did not work out. She is still a virgin. She told me that at that age she used to feel that there is no need to ‘take a risk’ before marriage. It was too much effort to take the step. She had thought that once she is married she has her whole life to have sex.

She says at least in the previous generation people got married early. I think the concept of waiting until marriage made sense for the generation that got married at 21. Getting married in the 30’s and 40’s is now so common. Isn’t it better to choose whether to marry or not, and when to marry rather than getting married to have sex! And should these women who marry late be deprived of sex just because they do not have a ‘certificate’ that ‘permits’ them to morally have sex?

Do women have no right to sexual pleasure?

I remember talking to a male friend on how I admire Sushmita Sen a lot and the choices she has made in life. His reply:

Oh yeah! Not get married and screw a 100 men!

This conversation had happened at least 7 years ago. “Well, I am am sure she does not ‘screw’ a 100 men!” I had replied.  But today, I would like to say:

So what if she does?!

Is the idea of a single woman enjoying sex so preposterous for us? Should we women be apologetic about having natural, human needs? Do we deserve to get shamed for it?

Never say never

I would like to appeal to everyone (women too!) to be non-judgmental. Please respect other women. Please do not ask if sexual liberation is a ‘symbol of progress’ for women because it is! We cannot support a movement like feminism to enjoy its benefits when it is convenient, and condemn it when others exercise the same rights. The  choice to the most intimate and fundamental needs as human beings is not a matter of debate. It is or it is not!

What would you choose?

This liberation means that people date, break up, marry, divorce, remarry etc with nobody’s life getting ruined because they “lost” their virginity. It means that we do not see the term ‘used’ when it comes to women. It means that ‘No means No’ even if the man is your husband. It means that there is no “honour” in killing because your so-called honour does not reside in your body and it is not owned by anybody else.

Yes. It is progress.

And if you still feel it is okay to discuss and dissect what is going on in another woman’s bedroom I would say just watch the movie Dor. In a very powerful scene, Ayesha Takia’s husband’s grandmother tells her own daughter-in-law to not be so arrogant about her marital status and bully widows.

You never know when you would be on the other side, she says.

Author’s Note: The term ‘slut’ is used as a reference to highlight how easily we like to brand others. The author does not support the usage of this term.

Header image is a still from the movie Astitva

Liked this post?

Register at Women's Web to get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads!

Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, you can request to be a Women's Web contributor too!

I like to write about the problems that have plagued the Indian society. I feel

Learn More

VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Comments

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

Feminist Book Picks

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Language cannot be the barrier.