Archu From The Archive, General, Social

Sex and Sensuality

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This post is one of my very dare attempts. An Attempt to challenge principles and practices that pose problems to today’s practicality. Culture is a cumulative collection of practices by people over a period of time. As time ticks, period progresses, and changes happen, good and bad, forming and deforming culture as it goes. Today’s working generation is exposed to globalization and have a bird’s eye view on cultures across countries. How do we discriminate the right and wrong when different people have different perspective on it? Who made us the judge of character or the moral police of the human society? What was practical a generation ago has either become a blind custom today or at times obsolete. What to carry forward and what to leave behind is a debate that has to get addressed in time for the progress of people and nation as a whole.

As discussing culture is too vast a topic for a single post and can get boring enough to encourage my readers to leave this page, I take up to talk about dating and sex which is still a taboo topic for discussion, especially by poised Indian women folks, but interesting to secretly read or hear from someone else. Sex is largely seen to be associated with Indian culture, sometimes synonymous even and yet we have a significant number of sexual crimes in our country. I myself agree and disagree to some of the points of my post and decide to do both the sides of the argument in this debate. My only intention is to leave open ended questions to various viewpoints, to ponder inside one’s own head, not to assume any supporting or defending status. If talking sex is blasphemy to you, this is not your post, skip it. If you can read it from a neutral, rational mind, uninfluenced by culture, religion, beliefs or teachings, there you go.

With no further delay, let’s get bang on the topic, DATING and CASUAL SEX. When you say that you are going out for dinner with the opposite sex, it’s not so offensive to hear but the moment you say that you are on a date with someone, critics pour in to point fingers at your morality. What is dating really? Isn’t it not going out for dinner with the opposite sex, or precisely just going out to someplace nice where you can spend time with a person and try to get to know them? Agreed, arranged marriages are still predominant in India and it’s sad that there are families which issue curfew on dating with even the fiancé on the pretext of culture. When friendship itself happens only when people share interests and have a basic level of compatibility, how do we decide to spend our lifetime with a person without having the slightest clue about him or her? If a person’s qualification, earnings, caste and family background is supposed to make marriages, where is the place for love which is the foundation for a solid marriage? Post marriage love is most often compelled love, when it doesn’t work out, a pretentious love. Is there really an option? True love is only for fables and fairy tales, is it? Why not for us?

An argument from the older generation – it worked for us and it will work for you. Years back, life was simple. Women had domestic duties and men were the bread winners. There was a pre-defined template for every role and everyone fit into one or the other with minimum expectations. When a match was made between the right templates, it clicks. Simple, isn’t it? Are we still in the same place now? With feminism on the rising ebb, communication bringing world at your doorstep and expectations in manifolds, templates have blurred, mixing a little of here and little of there and ending up with confused individuals who find it difficult to adhere themselves to any tampered template for the society’s sake but persue stealth interests for their own sake, eroding the grounds which formed the basis for arranged marriages that worked in the previous generations.

An argument from the younger generation – We do it for our parents’ wishes. I would simply have to say that if you are old enough to get married and lead your life with a co-aged partner, you are old enough to come out of your parents’ wings, make decisions of your own and be responsible for it. While Westerners arrange their marriage ceremony with their own earnings, here we are still counting on our parents’ bank balance or even worse, dowries from in-laws. Shame! Shame! All parents want their children to be happy. By choosing your own happy life, you will be happy, thereby making them happy in the long run even though they sulk in the beginning. On the other hand, you choose a blind marriage and get messed with conflicts, you end up sad, making them sad and guilty, even though it had a happy beginning. Which do you want, a grand start or a happy ever after?

Do all love marriages succeed? No, that is because we fail to identify love in the real sense. I am not going to go into stories stating differences between love and infatuation for those have been told for ages and ages now. I am just saying that a special category called lust marriages disguise themselves as love marriages and I have to blame that on our culture. We can get attracted to a person, or infatuated to a person or fall in love with a person. All may or may not happen with the same person. Homo sapiens are polygamists by biology and animal attraction because of hormones is inevitable. Casual safe sex with the attracted person would bring the hormone levels to balance and clear it out. Since casual sex is not accepted in India, some chose to quench it with deviated sexual behaviour, sexual crimes or by getting married to the attracted person. When that attraction fades after mating, marriage breaks. Come on, you can have sex with the person you love but you cannot love a person just because you had sex with him or her. Marriage should be built upon love for that makes the essential bonding between the couples and the off-springs they produce.

That makes me ask the next question, why is casual consensual safe pre-marital sex prohibited in our culture? Mind you, I stress on ‘PRE-MARITAL’ because I still believe that post marriage, one that was made out of love and understanding, infidelity is a moral offense. Why is losing virginity before marriage an unforgiveable crime? Human beings are not fruits or vegetables to go bad at one fling. Even so, people go bad all the time by nurturing wrongful thoughts in their minds, by bad-mouthing others, by being envious. Being a virgin makes no one any better if they store trash in their heart and mind. Purity of a person to me means purity of thoughts and soul, not the body. Oh man, you remain a virgin and don’t take bath for 10 days, you will still stink. Paid sex is prostitution. Is pleasure sex too? If casual consensual sex was an open option, people wouldn’t get married for lust sake or commit crimes to satisfy their over-powering needs.

In those days, our culture prohibited casual sex because there were not much measures or awareness for safe sex. Casual sex would cause unwanted pregnancy, affecting the mother and the child’s future. Today, we come to know over-the-counter safety measures before we are even 18, don’t we? Women’s active sex life is from her puberty to her menopause that is roughly between the ages 12 to 45. Earlier days, women were married within months they reached puberty to contribute their role to the ecosystem in procreating. That’s not the case today. Women want to soar to heights and achieve results before they tie the knot in their later twenties or even later. Just because they postpone marriage, isn’t our culture limiting their sex life as well which is already limited by nature? Love should be packaged with marriage, why should sex?

Casual sex is so much better than the traditional arranged married sex where the bride and groom would have hardly seen each other before their wedding and would be expected to consummate their marriage by the end of the day. Crude! Let us see it this way. In an arranged marriage with everything matching with everyone, all background checks done and clear, how does the bride or groom come to know that their partner is gay or a lesbian until the wedding night? What if one of them is a sexual sadist and derives pleasure in unacceptable, intolerable fore-plays? Which background check reveals that? What is the fate of the person who had got entangled in such a marriage with a sadist that he or she didn’t even love in the first place? Tolerate and stay put as that is what our culture teaches us or divorce and become an object of ridicule in the Indian society which still hasn’t come around the concept of divorce fully yet. Won’t casual sex give the answer to it before you say go?

Marriages are made to last. When love between the couples is lost, marriage becomes meaningless. Bold people go out and nullify their void marriage with a divorce while meek ones stay put, accepting their fate and preaching to the society that they had long lasting marriages. What’s the point really? I would say, fall in and out of relationships many times, burn your fingers and shed your tears. But when you marry, marry once, marry for the rightful reasons to a right compatible loving partner and stay married happily ever after.

When Indian constitution is subject to amendments from time to time, why not Indian culture too? Let’s be proud of our heritage, of our monuments, art and art crafts, of our diversified community, different life-styles, basically everything that also makes up our culture. Where we need to upgrade and progress, we need to. Change cannot be stopped but we can move on. Even though we were hard-wired from birth with beliefs that makes it difficult to agree and follow the change, we can at least accept it, can’t we? After all, we live this life just once, why not live fully and happily?

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37 thoughts on “Sex and Sensuality

  1. I totally agree with you. Life would be so much better when you do the right things and do it with the right person. As you said, when you are sharing your highs and lows with the person you love, you would be the most happiest person in this world. Certain changes happen on its own due to evolution and some of them have to be pushed upon. And the topic you have talked on is one among them.loved it!!!

  2. Archu, well articulated thoughts! All this is already present in some sections of Indian society, don’t have to look to the West alone. However, it is my opinion that casual sex and multiple relationships only define a change in lifestyle for the society as a whole and do not guarantee good marriages. Again, the West is an example. And if casual sex were really casual, what would stop people from going for it post-marriage, if it were all about biology? That’s adding to the list of open-ended questions. May have more to say, but lazy to pen them… so that’s it for now 🙂

  3. @Sharepoint, SQL Server: Thats a techy screen name you’ve got.Techy as in the technology itself 🙂 Why bother about implementing in our parents generation? They are in a different phase of life now where sex and sensuality wouldn’t matter so much. Our bother is the current generation, our generation, or atleast in the generation where we are the parents. Like you said, maybe 30 years from now, give or take a few years.

    @su: Thats su. When there is time, thoughts go for a hiberation. When thoughts spring, time crosses its arms. I’m trying to co-ordinate both and whenever that clicks, you’ll seurely see a post, like today 🙂

    @VK: I’m sure this topic was and is in many minds. Some voice it aloud and some save it within. I just attempted to bell the cat. We cannot change today but at least its time to accept that change is happening.Thanks Vijay for the backup.

    @Meens: Thanks Meens…missed you on my blog for awhile 🙂 I never said casual sex guarentees good marriages. It would just filter out some of the reasons for bad marriages, not all, infact nothing can help good or bad marriages but for the couple concerned. And again, casual sex post marriages are still happening too. Only consolation is that love and understanding for your partner who satisfies you in every way might keep biology at bay for our partner is a choice of our own biology. Without even that, whats happening would happen many times more. I do not try to take West as an example. I’d like to blend the pre-marital lifestyle of the West with the post marriage one-for-one importance of ours, that one being the most important we person we chose from our hearts. Simply asking for a balance 🙂

  4. Awesome and bold blog Archana…!!! Happy to see you tearing the fake traditional/cultural mask. Keep it up. I wouldn’t completely blame our culture. I think we(as in asians) have never seen any alternative to arranged marriages. Due to expansion of the world economy, we are exposed to different culture. So now it is totally up to us to pick what suits us. Nobody is a better judge than yourself.

  5. @Shankar: Thank you. Agreed, a few years ago, we (as in Asians) never saw an alternative to arranged marriages but now we do and realize even. Still, many of us stick to old beliefs without questioning the reason behind it. Like u said, now it is totally up to us to pick what suits us and lets hope people make the right choices before it is too late to help.

  6. Nice post .. And the questions raised by Meens in her comments make a healthy sub plot too . Just like love, sex is a very misconceived concept and just like love again, it takes a bit of maturity to decide about one’s sex life. Immature people are at the risk of jumping on such notions and using it as a license. Freedom comes with responsibility ! That applies to a person’s sex life too…

  7. @Mathi (GS): Well said…so long as an individual is allowed to take responsibility and accountability for his/her own love and sex life without prejudiced notions forced from the society, life will progress the way it should.

  8. I disagree. Breaking the rules is inevitable, and this is going to happen some time but traditions are for human welfare. To avoid free sex and build a healthy soceity, without step fathers, step mothers, orphans or whatever, the rules and traditions are built. May be those are misused by people or moulded for selfish reasons. But though it is tough and problematic and individuals might be suffering, I feel the traditional soceity of India had good goals.

  9. @Anonymous: You said it. Traditional society of India HAD good goals (past tense). Are there still applicable in a society that has gone so much of transformation? I doubt it and I’ve tried to explain why in my blog as well. And come on, there are nearly 200 countries in the world and every country has its own tradition, one tradition cannot apply to human welfare as a whole and even if it does, being tough and problematic and leading individuals to suffer is not ‘welfare’ in my dictionary. Anyways, I was only talking about pre-marital safe casual sex which would rule of step parents, orphans or whatever. I mean, casual sex is still a taboo in India and we still have enough step parents and orphans stories than most countries….something to think about.

  10. @archu: good writing. I believe love and lust exist together. Have you seen ‘forgetting Sarah marshal’.. I believe in whats told in that movie. You don’t feel like sleeping with someone, when you don’t love them.

    Lust can just like that only in a mentally disturbed condition or for a pervert.

    When you really love a person, its good if you marry him/her. But, if you don’t you can fall in love with another person. Every moment you love new and different things. My love in my 5th standard was not it in 12th and that in 12th was not my love in college. It differs. Even every 15 minutes love changes. Contradictions is life. If you read this article after 20 years, you may not feel as you felt on the day you wrote it.

    Casual sex can be taken up. Good. But, there are a lot of people who only want casual sex! :-)… They can’t afford it or something.. Leave that. If it is so casual, why not after marriage.

    Burning fingers is not a solution for good married life. Adjustments and understanding can only help a relationship out.

    Pessimistic??? Ha ha! Ok. You have casual sex with him, before marriage. You reject.. How many will you reject like that??

    You ideas are good. But, i don’t think this must be implemented. Rapes are never going to come down because of this! And, regarding loving because i had sex – ‘Men love a girl who has physically given her to him’… I believe so.

    And, menopause is not the end of sexual life for woman. Its just the stop button giving birth to progenies. Ofcourse, there will be some problems then on, but again understanding can take it further.

    I after reading you, have been thinking of writing about this. Will surely share the link if i do so! Write more… :-)…

  11. @Joker: Thanks for an insightful comment…I both agree and disgaree with some of ur points.

    Burning fingers is not a solution for a good married life. Rapes are never going to come down because of casual sex – I totally agree. Thats y I said burn your fingers and shed your tears before you get married. Once you get married to someone you love, stay married without cheating, is my philosophy too. Casual sex can quench lust but cannot cure perverted psychopaths. So unfortunately, rapes would still exist.

    Menopause is not the end of sexual life for women – Agreed again. Maybe just the end of sexual interest for women.

    You dont feel like sleeping with someone who you dont love them? ‘Men love a girl who has physically given her to him’? – Disagreed. Prostitution wouldn’t be happening if these two points were true 🙂

    Thanks for paricipating in this debate with ineresting counter arguments 🙂 Do share the link when you write more and continue participating in my posts as well 🙂

  12. hmmm… 🙂 I do know that HAD is past tesnse..

    You said the soceity is transformed. from what to where? Since sex is sharper at both the ends, the past generation suggests a careful use. If casual sex is proposed what age it is going to begin?

    For that matter, plastic is very convenient for an individual to use, but aren’t we avoiding it since its going to afftect the globe?

    I know you or me not going to stop the changes that happend generation to generation. But i think atleast we can delay 🙂

    I am a regular reader of your blogs and infact a fan of your write ups. But couple of instances where you responded was not so encouraging for the people who are not possitive on your views. You are allowing anonymous comments, but pointing them regarding that, shows that.

  13. @Anonymous: Plastic and sex are wrong comparisons. Plastic is synthetic and is against nature while sex helps evolution and hence for nature. Infact it was nature that taught us sex in the first place Anyways, this discussion will go on. Why dont we just agree to disagree on this subject? 🙂

    I allow anonymous comments because I do respect views and counter-views, but when a visitor confidently leaves his identity in the comment, I respect it a tad more. I usually phrase my reply to comments in the same tone as the comment itself. It definitely has nothing to so with anonymity or opposiite arguments. I am really sorry if some of my replies had sounded so. That was really not my intention and going forward, I’ll try to be more watchful. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. A nice write up archana akka.

    The kind of situation you describe, like not happy with marriages and even the thought of considering pre marital casual sex exist a lot more in developed societies where its members are exposed to cultures worldwide. speaking of developed societies in india i guess it is confined to the metros. still india at large has developing traditional societies or undeveloped traditional societies to which what you speak of may not be applicable.

    Your views on relationships and casual sex will definitely apply for a him/her holding the strings of traditionalism and modernism on either sides to maintain a balance.

  15. @Muthu: Thanks Muthu. Sorry for a late reply.

    I have only question here. How long are we going to call ourselves a developing country without taking steps or acting on towards a developed a nation? Our country will not become a changed place tomorrow but little steps make a long way to reach the destination.

    I was only trying to emphasis that in personal matters like relationship and sex, every individual, be in from rural or urban must have the right to think and act as per his own decision without being pressurized by the society to adhere to a standard that he/she is not comfortable with (unless of course, his decisions are not a cause of hindrance to someone else). Who is anyone to say or judge how anyone else should live their personal life?

  16. hi archu,
    Wishes for your daring expression of thoughts.

    I somehow feel this is lot subjective to individual and family discipline and culture rather than a national heritage; because this kind of modernism in thoughts evolves with one’s educational background and community’s set up and societal connections. While this blended strategy might help a matured person to establish happily ever-after marriage this kind of relaxation can easily ruin a immature people’s life. I believe, Culture is synonymous to police; we need police to maintain a less crime rate, if we go and start justifying why does a kid steal or why does a psycho kill we cannot establish order in the society. Yes we need to address the roots of the problems but we should not stop applying rules and regulations; it will make the situation worse.
    Hope I make some sense…

  17. @Asmi: Thanks. I agree with you. Like you mentioned, this is a lot subjective to an individual. All I wanted to emphasis is that culture should highlight the pros n cons of any action and leave the decision to the concerned individual because it is his/her life at stake and the responsiblity of it should lie in his/her hands. Policing everyone with general norms would only invite as much rebellion as stoping to apply rules and regulations altogether. Culture itself is subject to change every day and evolution is good. What we need is balance and acceptance.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  18. Well Said, mixed thoughts n emotions after reading your POST sort of confused n unclear about the aspects of Arranged Marriage, should I have to settle with it or to Start looking for that Someonespecial….??????

  19. Awesome writeup. Just go and talk about this to your mum , she will tell you her thoughts. When there was a casual conversation between me and my mum on this topic, I was talking like a westerner ( My mum’s dialogue) She was also telling me that i would make a bad mum. 🙂 Atleast, i feel i would be in a position to talk about a tabooed stuff with my daughter with much more of an open mind than making her feel what-my-mum-will-think-about-me.

  20. Sorry for the late reply

    @Asmi: 🙂

    @Anon: My post can only help you get started on finding your right mate. Making it work and making it last is entirely in you hands. Wish you all the very best in your bride hunting 🙂

    @Gayathri: Ha ha no surprise there. The generation gap between us and our parents is so much more than what it was between our parents and grandparents and what it will be between us and our children. The present working generation is the one that has witnessed and has been undergoing drastic changes because of changing times and conditions. At the cross roads that we are now in, if we start thinking about what-my-mum-will-think-of-me, we might stop ourselves from being the mum that we want to be to our kids. Let our parents live their life according to their belief. Let our learnings help our kids in their future. Let uus make the transition smooth for both of them by gelling the wide gap between our former and latter generations 🙂

  21. Good discussion on a tabooed topic…Yeah! Vatsyayana and the Chandella kings did not mind sharing it with the public in a form that still stands proof to the truth that sex was never a taboo and yet we call it a tabooed topic! Ha! We got messed up somewhere in the middle and we are heading somewhere amidst the chaos and confusions that prevail on topics like relationship, marriage, love and lust. I just hope and wish the next gen is able to grow up with a clarity of thought and are able to take responsibility for their actions whatever it may be…and not live in guilt for making out or making love just because the society condemns the act…

  22. Hi Archu,
    I desperately wanted to comment on this. It’s such an awesome blog about culture and heritage that was there long back, which we still believe and follow like a child sticking to fairy tales. And you forgot one more issue, CASTE SYSTEM. You know one can do friendship with any caste and creed, one can play with any one and if one needs blood any one can donate it( if at all it matches their) but when their child wants to marry they need only a guy/girl from their own caste. I wonder sometimes what they will get from that!! Any how it’s good to see you taking a very brave step to comment on Indian society and portraying your perspectives on Sex and Marriages.

  23. @Nitin: I am glad you appreciate daring thoughts. Like I had mentioned in my blog and some of the comments above this one, Indian society and belief is changing and no one can stop that. As with any change, there is a resiting force as well. With the dawn of IT and globalization, we are in the middle of a fast paced change where people understand the reasoning behind the change but are not ready enough to accept it. We only have to wait longer….As for caste system, I can write long long posts about it…maybe someday I will. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Kudos! I was dumbfounded when I read this article! Now I have to delete my draft at blogspot! Or rather rephrase it and continue on a similar topic! 😉 So.. people are out there, who think as ‘crazy’ as as I do!

  25. @padfOOt: Thanks. We are not crazy. In a naked world, the clothed are crazy. We are only as crazy as that 🙂

    @ash: Thanks a lot 🙂

  26. I had landed up in this page while searching for something else a few months back. I have to congratulate you for your intrepid foray into this touchy issue.
    let me lay down some facts.
    * Menopause does not mean the end of libido. A woman can engage and enjoy a coital act as long as she is physically fit for it
    * To the best of my knowledge no contraceptive available over the counter is a hundred percent effective.
    I only hope the people are also educated on dealing with a contraceptive failure if such an event arises.

    Everyone’s mind is conditioned by the society and the environment in which they are brought up.
    How casual is ‘casual-sex’. Will your mind treat it as casually as what you ate for dinner a couple of days back and forgot about? in my perspective if you are in such a frame of mind you can go ahead and indulge yourself else you are bound to encounter a heartbreak.
    Why should a person seek the society’s endorsement for an act which is meant to be in his or her private domain.The most probable reason is they feel insecure themselves and they need approval from the society or atleast from a few members of it.
    human beings are not hardwired to remember physical pain or pleasure in the future. For instance childbirth is a painful experience for a mother but she never thinks twice when she has to bear a child the second time.The same way the momentary gratification will be forgotten over time but it is the emotions and thoughts associated with it which will determine whether it was a pleasant or unpleasant experience for you in the future. You can choose the lifestyle you want to adopt , though it might be considered heresy by the society, and still be at peace if your mind can handle the emotional baggage which comes with it.If not you are bound to be in a state of turmoil.

    you consider fidelity in marriage to be sine qua non for a healthy relationship .I was also of the same opinion till I realised that we have been brought up in an environment which makes us think so, and we are comfortable and secure in that ideology. There are people in ‘open- relationships’ where the ‘purity of your soul’ as mentioned by you is maintained as the emotional attachment is only with one’s spouse while there are no restraints with regards to physical intimacy. Should such a person in an open relationship consider people like you and me with condescension as ‘yet to evolve’ in the social calender? Imho we are nobody to set boundaries for morality its each person for himself.
    In my limited professional and personal experience divorce does not necessarily mean a better life for both the individuals concerned. Though exercising divorce as a legal option has helped many a women escape the cruelties of life it cannot be considered an yardstick for a women coming into their own.

    Our country is steeped in tradition , people consult their astrologers for fixing a date for surgery or c-section according to their horoscope’s. They cremate the mortal remains of their relative rather than let a doctor harvest their organs to help another person who is alive.This is because their thought process has been schackled by either the religion or the society. Something revolutionary as suggested by you will not bring about a solution but it may polarise the society further. This issue cannot be considered on par with female foeticide or child marriage against which ‘politically correct’ awareness campaigns can be run. It should be the duty of the government to protect the rights of a person in exercising his free will and not be persecuted by fascist and radicals, and in due course of time there will be a transformation in the society after all there was an edwardian and victorian era before what the west is now. We can only hope and pray things change for the better.

  27. Firstly let me tell you you are an excellent writer! This is the first article that I read from your blog and I really liked it. I have not yet read the rest but I went straight ahead to post this comment.

    Throughout my reading I couldn’t find one line that I didn’t agree to. I so totally agree with your views.
    I think we have been taught to associate sex so closely with marriage that even the very idea of pre-marital consensual safe sex is a sin! To osmose this whole idea of sexual urges being a biological phenomenon and a mere play of hormones is something very tough to achieve in our culture. But its not yet late. We can bring in a change by introducing these thoughts in the current and the generations to come to achieve a safer, less violent society that is free of perversion and carnal crimes.

  28. @GMV: First of all, thanks Gayu for letting me know GMV is you than keeping me wondering and more thanks for the compliments 🙂

    There were times in our own Indian society when talking about sex was taboo. With education and exposure, people have come to accept it and even volunteering views like how me and all the commentators have done here. There were even times when sending a girl to school was considered wrong. Can we even imagine such views now? Likewise, change will come to our culture’s sex discipline too. It’ll come much slowly but surely 🙂

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