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Women’s sexuality belongs to them, and no one has a right to dictate, no matter what society or popular culture tells you. A look at the top 10 posts of #ADecadeOfWomensWeb
Sex. One of the primal human urges. A need almost every person feels. The closest you can get to another person in physical ways, and if you’re one of the lucky ones, in mental and spiritual ways at the same time.
When I dug into our archives yesterday to pick the top 10 articles on this topic, I realised that we have done a ton of them, covering almost every aspect of women’s sexuality – right from sex education and talking to daughters about their sexuality and making them comfortable in it, to talking about consent and what is and what isn’t consent, to the violence women are subject to through denying them agency over their body, through objectifying them, through slut shaming them for their sexual choices, through the emotional violence visited upon them that makes them no more than a body.
It was a churn, the experience of just reading through these posts to pick. I’m in a rage today, as some of these were really triggering. But the conversation is important, and has to be done. You, my readers, will have the benefit of picking what you want to read, by reading through the excerpts I have included.
The experience could also be enriching. Because sexuality is not a compartment that has to be kept separate from who you are. It is a part of you that meshes with everything else that makes you, you.
So without any more foreplay, here you are – the top 10 posts on Women & Sexuality in #ADecadeOfWomen’sWeb
Expecting A Sati Savitri In A Woman? Who Are You To Judge Her Sexual Needs?
Many recent films caused debate over some “cultured” questions: Why has feminism become about sexual liberation? Is having one night stands the benchmark of being progressive? Is masturbation empowerment?
Excuse me? Stop judging women who own their sexual needs – who are you to decide for them?
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!
No Such Thing As A Slut – Just A Woman Who’s Truly Positive About Sex!
What is sex positivity? How does being sex positive affect your words, attitude, body language, and relationships?
For starters, why are people curious about someone’s virginity? Is that a yardstick to measure a woman’s sluttiness?
Secondly, when asked an intruding question, a sex positive individual would tell them to shut up because it is none of their business?
This is what we have grown up with, and continue to face in our day-to-day life. I can count on my fingertips the number of times men have dared to ask me: how many men have I slept with? What do you answer to that? Do you play coy and say ‘just one’ or ‘none’? Do you take offence? Or do you go tongue in cheek and tell them that you slept with 365 men, just last year, one for every day of the year?
Someone who is sex positive, irrespective of the gender, wouldn’t ask such invasive questions? So, the fact that a man chooses to ask you that, itself means you call for the check, end the date, and tell him to keep guessing.
Looking For A Spicier Sex Life? You Need To Check This Handy Guide To Lubes In India!
Here’s the good doctor with help to not only overcome any difficulty or pain while having sex due to dryness of the vagina for any reason, but also with tips on how to ‘spice it up’!
How exactly to lube it up?
Lubes are to be used the same way that you would use a body lotion or a massage oil. Start by pouring a small amount into your hand. This also warms up the lubricant (especially in winters or cold areas of the globe, when you’re trying to heat things up) As for water-based lubes, you would need larger amounts in comparison to the oil or silicone based ones/
It should preferably be applied to the penis or finger or sex toy, the inner and outer lips of your vagina and clitoris as well. This will heighten the arousal and increase pleasure during all sexual activities. The lubes themselves come with applicators. These will help you apply lubricant exactly where you want to.
Using A Vibrator Has Made Me Feel Sexually Empowered, Free To Enjoy My Body
Here’s some essential gyaan that is a must read. The writer wanted to be anonymous because duh – those reading will be from the sanskaari Indian society – we saw which way the conversation went in the post by VJ above.
And while you’re at it, look for a link to where you can pick up sex toys in India, at the end of this post.
Of course a machine can never replace a man’s touch (or tongue!). Apart from the occasional lukewarm encounters and draughts experienced thanks to distance, cold wars or general exhaustion, we do have some pretty amazing sex. And before you think, “Damn, she’s so lucky!”, let me tell you that it’s taken a decade for us to get to this stage. From going through “can’t keep my hands off you” premarital sex to hitting rock-bottom in the intimacy ocean after having a child together, we’ve had our fair share of struggles in the bedroom. Now I can safely say that our sex-life has evolved into a comfortable, rapturous and honest one and a lot of the credit goes to the considerate yet kinky fellow I married.
There’s a reason I’m pulling all the stops and baring these somewhat explicit details and it is to tell you this – Seeking alternative ways to find ecstasy on your own does not mean you are not sexually satisfied with your partner. This may sound obvious, but when I look back at the pangs of shame that came reflexively when I enjoyed my body without my husband, I’ve realized how problematic it is that we don’t truly feel entitled to physical pleasure.
Durex Starts Online Conversation On Female Orgasms; Indian Men Respond With Characteristic Misogyny
But hey, what use any men if they don’t come up with more misogyny than they’re worth? Check out how a discussion on female orgasms on a condom brand twitter page deteriorated into a ‘maa-behen comments’ outraged sanskaari men scene. (Though, psst – never be caught without a handy condom. Best tip I can give you.)
The stories that started coming out from women were a testimony to the discomfort that women have been made to internalize with respect to their own bodies and sexuality.
For some Indian men and their fragile egos however, it was a bit too much to handle, and #BoycottDurex started to trend on Twitter.
Needless to say, it was perceived as an insult to Indian men, their sexual prowess, and to Indian culture as a whole. Some men, of course, decided that this would be a good forum to boast about how good they were at sex, while others questioned the validity of the data.
There was mansplaining galore about how this campaign was unfair to men, and whataboutery, and laments about the “lows that feminism has reached!”
The “outraged on behalf of Indian women” maa-behen comments weren’t far off either.
And the misogyny wouldn’t be complete if one did not blame women themselves for not having orgasms, or using some twisted logic to link the statistic to adultery!
When Women Dare Not Speak Of Desire
Which brings us to this post. Women may not speak of their desires in a ‘sanskaari’ society that is focused more on the ‘virginal purity’ of a woman, and her ‘giving sex’ to a man, who of course, is entitled to it.
This lack of knowing what an orgasm feels like is probably the most telling statement of what is wrong with how the Indian woman experiences sex. She is rarely empowered enough to demand that her partner pleasures her in a manner that leads to her reaching an orgasm. For most Indian women, sex is primarily about satiating the male desire, towards achievement of the male orgasm. The female orgasm is a mythical concept much like the unicorn. Few men take the effort to pleasure their partners to orgasm – few women dare tell their partners what pleasures them enough to help them climax.
We don’t have the vocabulary to articulate desire, because we are taught never to speak of it, both men and women. When men talk of desire, it is with the self consciousness of speaking of something connected to a construct of machismo and masculinity and not a natural biological urge. When women speak of female sexual desire, it is with embarrassment, guilt and often concern that they are transgressing social boundaries. Add to this, the all pervading deification or vilification of women in two absolute extremes –the devi or the whore, leads to a fear of expressing one’s sexual needs.
That Terrible Dance Of Sexuality Where Women Don’t Play
Of course. The shaming begins very early. And completely messes up young minds and bodies. With girls growing up with no concept of ownership of their bodies, desires, and feelings, and boys growing up with entitlement coded into their every action and thought, because “boys will be boys”. And no openness, of course, about the terrible yet beautiful thing that sexuality can be. Which is where rape culture takes root and flowers.
The teacher got down from the bus to ask the boys about why they were throwing stones at our bus. A long argument ensued during which I was pointed at by my ‘filmstar’. I was thereafter marched to the Principal’s office as soon as we reached school and made to wait outside for a long time, during which time hard glares were thrown towards my direction. I sat there in a kind of mute stupor….a paralyses.
After that I was taken to the social worker, who spoke to me about inappropriate sexual behaviour and immorality and the need to behave in a manner that was responsible and safe and my parents were called to school, when I insisted that I had not done anything wrong, since all the girls flirted and even had boyfriends. I was forced to apologize to everyone. Endless rows ensued at home and my mother wept and did not have her dinner. My sexuality was such a terrible terrible problem.
Worse still, the principle in the morning assembly warned all the children of abstaining from risky behaviour in the future, making a public example of ‘one unfortunate student’. And so many of my friends, who were past masters at dancing the ‘dance’, decided to take the moral high ground in the future and finally boycotted me. Ah the beauties of sexual morality and the power of the moral high ground!
At the same time we all attended weddings, ‘arranged marriages’, wherein perfect strangers were expected to sleep with each other because their parents had so arranged it to take place respectably.
Let’s Talk About Sex And Sexuality With Our Daughters
So sex ed is a given. And while this article says “daughters”, let’s talk with our sons too, so that they don’t grow up to be entitled assholes instead of respectful young men.
Women’s sexuality is a tightly-controlled and rigidly-managed system in India. One of the core reasons for this expectation from women to abstain from sex and sexual desires, often comes down from the matriarch of the family whose value system is a direct reflection of her husband’s beliefs or stems from societal constructs that the matriarch believes in. Then of course pre teens, teens and young adults are left to fend for themselves and either hide their desires in embarrassment or act upon them in secrecy. Young girls have been told to shy away from sex and sexual conversations to such an extent that they grow up embarrassed and ashamed of their bodies and sexual urges. They learn from an early age that their body is going to be policed, and they begin to accept it. First mothers police their daughters’ bodies, and then the society.
Today, however, it’s imperative that families, mothers especially, talk to and educate their daughters about sex, sexuality and what that entails. Young girls and boys have all the information available at their finger tips, and often none of that news is good news. Young girls must be taught that their body is theirs alone, that no one has a say on their body, that no matter where she is, what she’s wearing, what she isn’t wearing, what she chooses to do with her body is her right alone, and no one has the right to police her body.
It’s Time We Stopped Looking At Older People As ‘Sexless’ – They Have Desires Too?
Is sexuality only something for the younger generation? Don’t older people feel the desire to have sex or be aroused?
Young adults generally view their fathers and mothers as being devoid of any sexual desire after their birth and this perception increases as they age.
There is no form of privacy for the elderly at their own homes as they are mostly not provided separate rooms. What’s more is that, such desires are often looked upon with disgust.
Love that stands the test of time and elderly love is always cherished. Couples who have been together for the years are always looked at with awe. But intimacy or sex among the same couples or among any elderly is shunned and looked upon with shame.
The Importance Of Listening For “Yes” In Sex
No article on sexuality is complete without talking about consent. Consent has to be a resounding, unequivocal Yes!
The idea is let women take charge of their own bodies, as well as encourage sexual partners to work a little bit harder to understand the other’s needs by getting them to express explicit consent. To sum it up, because somebody is not saying no, it doesn’t mean they are saying yes. So, ideally, you should not strive for not listening to no, but for hearing a yes.
…because somebody is not saying no, it doesn’t mean they are saying yes. So, ideally, you should not strive for not listening to no, but for hearing a yes.
Rape is about power relations, not sex drives, but it takes form in a sexual way and it’s allowed to be perpetuated because we live in a society that values the sexual pleasure of men while objectifying the bodies of women. Women are hardly portrayed as agents of their own sexual desires and when that happens, there is usually a negative connotation attached to it.
And while you are here, other than more information on sex toys and where you can pick these up, let me recommend these 9 Excellent Erotic Books By Women From The Indian Subcontinent That You Could Explore.
Happy reading & exploring!
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In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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