Talking about sex in India: Why is it so damned hard?

Okay, I’ll admit that heading isn’t entirely accurate. Talking about sex isn’t hard in India – at least it isn’t if you’re youngish and male. What I really wanted to discuss here isn’t why we can’t talk about sex. Like I said, we can (if you’re surprised, read on). What I wanted to discuss is why we can’t talk meaningfully about sex, without the haa haa hee hee, without the nudging and gesturing and without the general immaturity.

See, there’s a big difference between talking about sex and talking about sex like a frigging adult. I’ve been to high school in India. I’ve gone to engineering college in India. I’ve worked closely with young engineers in India. I know Indian guys talk about sex. They (that is to say, the uninitiated ones) talk about it like it’s some kind of shiny object in the sky that they want as soon as possible. They talk about it like it’s something they need to grab, grasp, enjoy for themselves. They talk about it like it’s just another toy they want, like a car they’d like to buy. And at that point, I tend to ask myself – aren’t they missing a little something here?

I’m not about to brag about the extent of my sexual experience here, but you see, I do have a little, and as far as I know, the act takes TWO people. You can’t just have sexual intercourse on your own, you need someone to have it with. And notice – I said someone not something. 

The typical Indian guy’s view of sex seems a bit like this – Sex is like this awesome fruit. I need that fruit. I can’t get it on my own, so I have to get a tool to grab it. That tool is a woman. Ergo, I need a woman.

The woman is incidental, little more than an enabler. She’s not the point, the sex is. She doesn’t count, the physical act does. She’s like a keyboard on a computer – vitally important to what you’re trying to do, but not something you really think about or even want to have to think about.

To be fair, this is not something that’s uniquely Indian. I have a number of American and Canadian acquaintances who think similarly, and I’m sure the Europeans aren’t immune either. BUT, in India, unlike America, Canada and Europe, this seems to be pretty much the only point of view that exists. Not the dominant point of view. The ONLY point of view. It is accepted, completely and utterly, without any challenge whatsoever. Accepted in the same way that you might accept the sun rising in the east. If you try to question this notion, people look at you like you’re speaking Swahili.

Why is it accepted? Because we’re a sexually repressed nation.

Indians don’t need this sex ed thingy. We were the ones who wrote the flippin’ Kamasutra, goddamn it!

Sex is dirty, wrong and thirty six different kinds of evil, so just brush it under the carpet. Send your son to grab a glass of water when there’s a condom ad on television. Protect your daughter’s innocence by protesting against sex education. You know the drill.  Save Indian culture while you’re at it too. That’s how it works with ‘respectable’ folk in mainland India.

‘Respectable folk’ fail to understand that sexual repression, like most kinds of repression, doesn’t work. You can’t really effectively repress something as fundamental as sexuality. All sorts of people have tried it for thousands of years and haven’t succeeded.

See, kids are going to find out about sex sooner or later. This shit isn’t hard to figure out -it’s not meant to be hard. It’s arguably our only real purpose on earth.

What we can do, is deny people exposure to the modern, civilized way of thinking about sex. Leave them to caveman instincts, then rave about moral bankruptcy when it doesn’t work. Become an apologist for that repression. In other words, become a member of the ‘respectable’ clan.

It’s time we lifted the covers off this topic as well and let people know the realities of their own biology. The link between letting your teen attend sex ed and seeing a fall in sexual harassment (“eve-teasing”) may sound tenuous but is very real. Let’s cut those giggles and reserve them for inappropriate farts. Let’s wipe those stupid smirks off and bring some maturity here. Consensual sex is something that most of us want and enjoy – let’s acknowledge that as a fact instead of some kind of dirty secret.

The less we talk about it, the unhealthier and more ill-informed our actions get.

Let’s stop being ill-informed. Ignorance may be bliss for a while, but it is never a virtue and it catches up with you at some point in life. You don’t want to be at that point; let’s make sure none of us are.



21 thoughts on “Talking about sex in India: Why is it so damned hard?

  1. I suspect nobody is against the boys getting sex-ed so much as the girls getting it too. The idea is that if you teach teenagers that sex is not a dirty thing and everyone has it and needs to have it, it might lead to large numbers of them becoming sexually active –and of course some of these teenagers will be female, so can you imagine what havoc that will wreak on our Great Indian Culture! Girls will not remain virgins until they get married. Hell, they might even insist on having ‘choice-marriages’ and refuse to have arranged-marriages. What will happen to our society if things come to such a pass!! Heh.

    • Yeah, I dunno.

      In my experience, a lot of parents don’t really want sons venturing that way either. Of course, the reasons tend to be a bit different; they don’t want guys to be ‘distracted’ (as if most of them aren’t already).

      If you ask me, Great Indian Culture is an epic fail when it comes to leading a healthy, wholesome life.

      • I back up that statement. Indian traditions and parents might not be as oppressive and controlling on their sons, but when it comes to sex and sexuality, the same attitude applies to both men and women. Unmarried men in India are as much shamed for their sexuality as women are. I think people like scribblehappy lack this perspective, because they are women and without the kind of exposure to what Indian men go through, conflate western ‘boys will be boys’ phenomena to Indian men as well.

  2. Much of the problem remains THIS. What you have written. I had a mate in school getting prego at the age of 12, and claiming she had no idea what she was doing would lead to pregnancy. To add to it, she was beaten up by her parents, while the guy who was seven years older than her (technically making it rape) got away scot free. And by that, I mean he never even got a tongue lashing for being so careless. Epic parenting fail, if you ask me!

  3. Welcome back! 🙂

    I’d say most things in Asian countries fall under the “respectable clan” category, where all modern education, technology or even a trend may (quote) “bring shame to the family name” Sex ed maybe be one of the those things, just like you mentioned, that are being shunned. If you are harassed, its your fault. If you are walking neck-to-neck with men and killing sexism, then you are outcast and slutty. When the bigger stories come out of the box, harassment, barbarism, rape- then everybody wonders where the psychopaths are coming into being, when they fail to realise that lack of education are demeaning the society. The so called “protection” are preventing the generation from advancing. Pathetic.

  4. Pingback: Indian Bloggers blog on Mythology, The Dark Knight Rises & more

    • (hit submit by mistake)… Or below.
      Virginity too is seen like a fruit. You give it to someone you marry. Even those who have an active sex life without marriage cannot just talk about things in an adult, matter of fact way.

      My friend says the younger teens out there are getting better. One can only hope!

      • Lol.

        I had no idea about the lingerie part.

        Guys tend to lower their voices only when there are women or ‘respectable’ people, like parents and bosses, around. There’s a lot of talk about sex, but it’s incredibly crude; the emotional maturity is non-existent.

        Dunno about the younger teens. Maybe in the metros, yeah.

  5. As long as there are people like the author and those who commented, there is some hope. Oh yes one more point, guys brag about ‘scoring’ with their girlfriends and expect to marry a virgin.

  6. Good to see you back. We were taught sexology by a lady doctor in our Parsi Girls’ School in Bombay. The doc tried to make it as pc as possible and we girls used to get the giggles. I do believe the younger generation is handling it more maturely.

      • I guess, giggles or not, at least the lines of communication, however retarded, are open. It is the ones who stifle the conversation, especially of female sexuality, in the name of “tradition” who, I think, are the ones you’ve written about.(?)

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