A scene in the Karan Johar directed Lust Story on Netflix reminded me of what my son had said at the age of eight, when I explained to him what menstruation is and how babies are made.
“So you had sex before you gave birth to didi?”
“Yes, that’s right!”
“So after five years before I was born, you again had sex?”
“Yes, you are right!”
“My God! You had sex twice?”
So when the mother-in-law in the short film says “Bache paida karne se badi hasrat ek aurat ki kya ho sakti hai?” (What greater desire can a woman have beyond that for a child?), I realized that this 50-something year-old woman was talking at the same level as my eight-year-old son!
She (like many women) have lived believing that women are baby producing machines. That we have sex to procreate and not for pleasure.
A few years back at a premier Delhi school, before we conducted sexuality training with the students we made the teachers go through it. When I saw the heads hanging down at a certain point of the workshop (that means 21 female heads), I couldn’t help saying,
“Come to think of it, if our parents had not had sex we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
The heads raised, there were giggles as if they had suddenly got approval and validation from their parents. Now it was ‘legal’ to talk about it. It is beyond my comprehension that with evidence roaming all around us in the form of more than a billion population, we are still pretending that ‘sex’ doesn’t exist or happen.
Hypocrisy is at its brilliance in all the other three Lust Stories, but I am taking you again to the Karan Johar story and into the workshop at this Delhi school. Leave aside the ignorance of men that women need sex or enjoy orgasm, most of the teachers ranging in the age of 25-55 fumbled at the question of how many holes a woman’s body has. There was stammering, murmuring, and swallowing of saliva to say the word vagina. The worst was to see that those who were okay to talk about it, and wanted to understand more, were sitting with a stoic expression and mouths shut. To be curious about your body is a stigma, leave alone having sex.
Imagine the silence when we brought up masturbation. For some, it was a long unknown word just like the experience of orgasm; some didn’t understand the jargon but having ‘practical’ understanding knew what we were talking about. But did anyone admit to knowing or doing it? NO. Why? Because a sex deprived, victimised woman is put on the pedestal and a bold, unapologetic woman is looked down upon by society. So what do you do? You wrap a shawl of innocence and ignorance and hide who you are and what you want.
We are beginning to talk about sexuality, and gladly about female sexuality, but conversations are still in the domain of opinions and views. It is still not looked at as a fact. Before anyone else does, we women have to have to accept our needs as a fact. Like all areas, we have to stop seeking permission to claim our ‘biological’ rights. We don’t have to live the image of the woman the society has created for their convenience.
Like the actress Vidya Balan, we must not have any shame in declaring that “We like it, we want it and we need it”.
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Manmeet is a writer by passion and a facilitator by choice. She works primarily in
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