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There’s One Thing That Will Give You More Pleasure Than Dirty Talk Or Sexting, As I Have Realised!

Too little. Too much. Too boring. Too exciting. Too violent. Too tame. In all of the situations, sex was an issue, and sometimes that lack of it was a symptom of something else.

Too little. Too much. Too boring. Too exciting. Too violent. Too tame. In all of the situations, sex was an issue, and sometimes that lack of it was a symptom of something else.

I don’t remember exactly what I was watching, but I remember the scene on screen quite clearly. A young couple was sitting at a table, with sheets of paper open in front of them, and reviewing one another’s sexual performances for the past week, as well as sharing what else they would like incorporated into their sex life. The intention of the bit, I suppose, was to underscore how ‘weird’ these two characters were, and the person sitting beside me concurred.

“Seriously, who does that?” My friend asked the room at large.

I laughed, because everyone around me seemed to be laughing, but honestly, I do. I do that. It’s not a review, because it’s not quite a job, but I write a journal — a sexual journal — that I share with my partner as feedback, which we then discuss.

It’s not a scheduled weekly meeting, but since we are creatures of accidental routine, it seems to happen on a weekly basis by itself, and if it didn’t, I would schedule it, because of all the things to be ashamed of, being hyper-organised is not worth the shame when, as a result, my day ends up with more hours than yours.

Is it a little over the top? Maybe, but that’s because we are used to viewing sexual communication in a certain way. Either, we see it as dirty talk, or as something that is unnecessary to talk about, but before we address that, let’s scale back to reality for a moment.

The reality is that most people in India do not have premarital sex, they also have arranged marriages, and a majority of those arranged marriage happened without sexual contact or communication prior to the marriage. In that situation, the best case scenario is that you learn each other’s sexual rhythm and preferences, and proceed with respectful caution until you find the right approach.

The best case scenario is also a rare occurrence. Much more frequently, what happens is that if you are a woman, you are just given to understand that as soon as you are married, you must have sex with this man you barely know, on a bed that is creepily prepared by your siblings and friends (seriously, why do we do this?). This feeds into the idea that in heterosexual relationships, sex is an unpleasureable chore for women and a desperate desire for men.

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I talk about sex – because it is important

I’ll talk to anyone about sex, and as a result, I’ve spoken to women twice my age and half my age about it, and several things come out very strongly.

Very few women enjoy sex, and the ones that do or at least the ones who genuinely desire it for pleasure, are not having the kind of sex they would really enjoy. A large number of women also think about it as a task to get through, and mentally check out when they are performing it.

One older lady explained it to me as a barter system, wherein she gets a peaceful, financially beneficial matrimonial relationship, in exchange for several minutes of a sweaty man bouncing on top of her once a month. She thought that my youth confused me into believing that sex matters to love and marriage. Despite the fact that she herself stated that harmony in her relationship was based on her having sex with her husband once a month, she thought I was the one overstating the importance of sex in a relationship. However, I am sure we have all heard this, right?

“Sex is not the most important thing in a relationship.”

Okay, I’ll bite. It’s not the most important thing, no, I’ll say communication is the most important thing. But I will also say this (and this doesn’t really apply if you are asexual), I’ve been around for the death of many relationships, and for the vast majority, sex was part of the problem. Too little. Too much. Too boring. Too exciting. Too violent. Too tame. In all of the situations, sex was an issue, and sometimes that lack of it was a symptom of something else, like fundamental incompatibility or lack of attraction, and sometimes it was the result of something, like infidelity or boredom.

No matter what though, the conversation about the sex was vital to the discussion. That doesn’t happen to things that are ‘not so important’. I believe that our need, as a culture, to deny that sex matters in relationships is at the heart of our inability to discuss it with each other. The discussion is only worth it if we say it matters, no? Why would we talk about something that doesn’t matter?

A society bursting at the seams, but sex? Chhee chhee, we’re Indian!

It’s not like we’re the country of endless jibber jabber. We decreed that sex doesn’t matter, it doesn’t need to be talked about, it’s a chore for women, men have disgusting urges that makes them need it, it’s only for making babies, women who like it are whores, only young people do it, women can’t enjoy it.

For a long time it was okay to say and believe those things because that was the socio-sexual narrative of our country. A socio-sexual narrative is an amalgamation of the personal ideas of where a society is and how it feels with regard to sex, and it also includes the sexual trends that are slowly normalised in time. For instance, the socio-sexual narrative of India indicates that we are sex-negative and weirdly obsessed with coercive hidden-camera style sexual exposure, to the point where that was the normalised and acceptable form of pornography in our country for a while.

For a long time, the secret that sex is important and fun, was well-kept because the socio-sexual narrative kept us all in line. However, in the past twenty years, the narrative has become confused. On the one hand, we have the international narrative that has permeated our thoughts through the internet and mass-media which tells us that it is okay to demand and expect pleasure as a woman, and maybe there’s nothing wrong with a little bondage and a vibrator, but on the other hand the vast majority of us still operate within a national narrative that is nowhere near that place.

The Indian reluctance to talk about sex can have far reaching consequences

I remember an incident that demonstrates this quite well. An older woman in my life was discussing her sex life with me, and she admitted that while she felt desire, she wasn’t able to naturally lubricate anymore, and that made sex very painful.

I suggested she use a water-based lubricant, and she asked me to buy it for her. I told her I would order it for her on Amazon, which she could also do, without going to a shop. But she insisted that I order from my Amazon account and not use hers because she worried about what Amazon would think of her. I ordered her the lube, and she was happy when she received it, but she didn’t know what to tell me when I asked why she couldn’t ask her husband to do the same thing for her. The problem was that while she wants to enjoy sex, asking her husband was an admittance to the fact that it mattered to her, and buying the lube herself made her feel like a sex-freak!

Ultimately all of it comes down to a lack of communication, and an environment that supports it. While I am happy that I am, and will always continue to be, the friend who procures sexual paraphernalia and pregnancy tests for the people in her life, I can also see the heart of the problem here, and it would be more beneficial to address that.

How our socio-sexual narrative affects us

It starts with understanding the socio-sexual narrative and how it impacts you.

The first thing I learnt from writing and discussing my sexual journal (and I started doing this with my first serious partner, and have continued to do it for fifteen years with a variety of people) was that awareness of the social context always increases awareness of your own sexuality.

For example, if you have fantasies of being forced or roughed up a little (and that’s strongly okay), they didn’t develop in a vacuum, and you won’t understand them completely in a vacuum either. Your sexuality does not end at the limits of your body, and without truly understanding your sexuality, you will not be able to enjoy it, and that is its primary purpose. The primary purpose of sex is pleasure, and that goal is best achieved by understanding who you are, what you like, why like it and which parts of it are social conditioning and which ones are authentically you.

The second thing I learnt was that you can have sex with one person, but all of your sexuality, and all of theirs is relevant to the experience. You know that pleasure of watching a movie and really understanding the subtext? That’s the pleasure of having sex with someone whose entire sexuality is as open to you as yours is to them, you see and understand more, and as a result there is more to relish.

How understanding your own desires heightens your pleasure

Over time, you develop a personal sexual narrative with a long-term partner, in terms of romance we often refer to this the lovers’ own language (and literature will tell you this is poetry, but I challenge that notion, I think it’s letters).

It’s challenging, I don’t deny, to be so openly vulnerable to a person and to expose not just the entirety of your physical sexuality, but the emotional as well. There is, for even the most ‘liberated’ of us, some shame in admitting to and sharing things about ourselves. There is some uncomfortable introspection during the process of reflection and there is, of course, the most challenging condition of having a partner who is open to sexual communication, especially to this level.

Most often it gets viewed as talking dirty, sexting, foreplay or something in that vein, but that’s because sex has been taboo and dirty for so long, that we cannot imagine using the words associated with it to discuss connection, emotion or ideas, but here it is – an excess, almost laughable, level of sexual communication has really helped me normalise sex. It has helped me experience it in a way that is alarmingly freeing, and so interesting that it’s almost liberating.

The truth is that sex warrants multiple discussions, you cannot talk today about everything you like, and feel, and leave it at that forever because you will change, the times will change around you, and you will become someone else. If you leave your sexual understanding in the past, your sexual present cannot be fulfilling.

And communication breeds fulfillment. It breeds searing honesty that seeps into all facets of interaction with your partner. It enables vulnerability and it teaches you that your pleasure matters.

Communication is the best sex toy you can buy. Well, buy and write in a journal to enable it anyway.

In September 2021, we began a new monthly sex column UnMissionary (all posts for this column can be read here) that is nuanced, real, and a deeply personal exploration of women’s sexuality and sexual experiences that steers clear of any stereotypes, and is informative, colourful, humorous, and very serious, all at the same time. This is in contrast with most sex columns that revolve around popular ideas of women’s sexuality are largely stereotypical unidimensional, and are mostly from the male POV and for the male gaze, and are often about the “how to” of sexual lives. 

Image source: a still from the film Tumhari Sulu

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About the Author

Aarushi Ahluwalia

Aarushi Ahluwalia is an author, journalist and columnist. She has been covering women's issues and rights for various news organisations throughout her career of almost a decade, and now runs a women's media read more...

6 Posts | 15,929 Views

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