Having grown up watching Bollywood movies and item numbers, I used to be appalled by the over-sexualisation of girls and young women, which used to paint woman as mere objects and depict their desires as inappropriate, creating moral boundaries restraining equality between the two! The assumption has always been set that young men have strong desires and since they are the head of the family, it’s their moral right to demand for it, from their less desiring wives/partners. Societal norms also suggest that women who are open about their desires, are taken in the wrong way and are instead open to sexual exploitation from men.
This disturbing trend is also echoed in a similar fashion in TV commercials. Condom Brands showcasing sex, and making it all about a man, ‘his’ timing, climax, ‘his’ performance, ‘his’ size! Companies are also innovating by coming out with performance enhancing drugs specially created for men suffering from low performance in the bedroom. On the other hand, have you ever came across an ad promoting a women’s Viagra? Very unlikely! Conversations among college-goers pertaining to sex ranges from ‘’Hey macha, how long did you last’’? Did you climax? while a girl’s standard question after her female friend got laid is “was he good in bed?‘’ It’s always about the man and his high libido, and how he satisfies his lady. Women are just supposed to enjoy it as it comes.
Does this mean a woman doesn’t have desires? I’m sure all the women in the room will disagree to that. The common sentiment which every woman will agree to and has always felt that way is that they do have desires just like men. Innate, sweet, wild, dreamy, passionate, crazy, term it under any category. It’s just that society expects her not to voice it out! Lest, she be branded as ‘’slut’’, ‘’easy’’ or ‘’characterless’’.
Heck, it’s not about her being slutty, it’s just the way her body functions, just like a man’s. Men need it because he is the lustiest out of the two. However, sexual desire is equal in both, it’s just that more importance is given to men because of patriarchy and the need to keep a man satisfied at all times to make your marriage last, and never to disobey him. While a woman’s role is to just produce offspring and in return be cared for. But we disagree! A woman’s desire should not be overlooked in any case! During pregnancy, many women experience an increased libido in the first and second trimester. Along with the increased sex drive, comes vaginal lubrication and hypersensitive clitoris, due to the sudden blood flow around your genitals, making you crave sex. They may find themselves always in the mood, even if their partners may not. This spike in sex drive may come and go until the D-day, but as a woman, especially in the indian society, her desires may be left unfulfilled as she is expected to play the role of a dutiful wife and would-be mother.
Society has a rigid system of specific roles for every gender which is still being followed, no matter how outdated. Talking about sex openly, or even on social media has dire consequences. Parents fear talking about it means they are indulging in unprotected sex, hence a list of scary scenarios pop up in their heads ranging from teen pregnancy, molestation, bad company, etc. Women are just expected to stay virgin until her marriage, and have her first experience with her husband that too for procreation, not when she desires. Her partner might be liberal in this aspect but society and parents don’t want their daughter-in-law indulging in frequent sexual activities, what if the neighbours hear it and their ‘izzat’ gets tainted?
On the other hand, western societies have also gone through tremendous cultural and social transformations. Even if there ever was an age-old tradition, it was done away with time. In terms of sexuality, western societies are dominant with hookup culture and casual flings. The need to get to know a man first by being compatible not just personality wise, but sexually, does good in the long run as both partners are aware of each other’s strengths. If a woman goes out late at night with friends, she is not termed promiscuous unlike the Indian society. Women who come late at night from work, are in fact looked at with pride, as she is a hardworking lady, looking after herself. Similarly, if a woman starts coming home late at night, she is told to quit her job or look for another job where she can come on time and look after her family.
However, after every dark day comes a ray of sunshine. Society is gradually evolving and the Indian society has started becoming more accepting towards woman taking charge of their own lives. Be it sexually or career wise, women are encouraged to lead and innovate and be on the same league like her masculine counterparts. Kudos, to wonderful husbands and supportive families who are encouraging woman and making their voices heard. There has been a rise in female entrepreneurs in the health and sexual hygiene industry. For instance, Komal Baldwa, Founder of Bleu condoms, and Meika Hollender of Sustain natural. Both of these ladies, have come from strong backgrounds with supportive families, and even though they might have faced a few challenges in business, but their indomitable spirit has never bogged them down. Let’s aim to create more such women in our society by being their support system, and pay heed to their desires and ambitions as well.