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Lately, I have been thinking of an unusual type of relationship among humans: one of asexuality. Well, come to think of it, asexuality may be more common than we expect it to be. It was perhaps never openly discussed. We, in India, are so tight lipped when it comes to discussing sexuality, that several problems that arise due to lack of understanding/misunderstanding remain unspoken and unattended to. It is as if openly discussing the problems associated with sexual preferences and behavior is a sin. I wish to discuss it not as an expert – which I am not – but rather as one seeking answers. It is my request that it be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
Long ago when my marriage was just a few months old, I remember a neighbor with children aged 10 and 7 coming over to our place and discussing with my mother-in-law some matter of grave importance in a hushed tone. She was a newcomer to our town and not very well known to our family. I kept to myself since the woman in question seemed to prefer to exclude me from the discussion. However it was my mother in law’s reaction that drew my attention.
Don’t be silly , she had said in a sharp tone. If your husband was indifferent and uncaring how did you have children by him? Hush up now and never repeat what you have just told me. The world will laugh at you.
And so it did. In the months that followed, it was an open secret that her husband was not sexually inclined and she had to plead with him to have children.
My children are God’s gift to me, She would often say. People would laugh behind her back and even call her Kunti Devi, referring to the character in the Mahabharat who apparently conceived the Pandava princes by invoking the Gods and natural elements.
Years rolled on and after my mother-in-law’s death, I distanced myself from the woman, unable to listen to the same story repeated over and over again. I had almost concluded that she was crazy and felt that the point raised by my mother-in-law was a valid one. She finally moved out of Jamshedpur and I got on with my life.
Recently it was whispered that a young mother known to me was contemplating divorce. The reason quoted was the same as the lady mentioned above. It set me thinking. Was procreation a purely biological phenomenon? Weren’t there any emotions involved? I wondered if the man in question was perhaps impotent. The couple in question seemed happy enough. I wondered what might have gone wrong? I wondered if there was any way to save the marriage?
I immediately explored the Internet and stumbled upon a possible answer. Like homosexual, heterosexual and ambi-sexuals, there are people who are asexual. They are not impotent nor do they practice celibacy. They are simply not interested in physical intimacy and prefer a platonic level of emotional interaction. That they may be coaxed or coerced into a sexual relationship on rare occasions, explains how they manage to have children but their married life can be frustrating and dissatisfying – if not to them at least to their partners. I remembered the lady who I had known earlier and wondered if it was due to frustration that she gave vent to her feelings and if we were wrong in deciding that she was crazy.
I am not a doctor or psychologist but I certainly would like to know if there is a way that enables one understand that their (a)sexual preference would adversely affect their married life and therefore clarify the situation to their future partners before tying the knot. Alternatively they may perhaps seek out others like themselves and enjoy a purely platonic relationship. I don’t see any point in coaxing such a person into marriage and complaining later.
Parents assume that all is well with their children and children never feel comfortable talking to them on such sensitive issues and when it does crop up, counseling is never a preferred option. I for one feel that we as a society ought to change and learn to be more open to discussing what we consider unusual or abnormal. For all we know the condition may be more prevalent but less known.
The Hip Grandma lives in a small industrial town called Jamshedpur and despite all its
Excellent post. It is true that there is so little discussion of sexuality even in an educated milieu; not only would something like asexuality never be revealed, the person himself/herself may not know that something is ‘different’ about themselves. After marriage, the mismatch with the partner’s expectations naturally becomes a big problem.
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