Here’s a question we urge you to answer: What does sex mean to you? A question that requires us to introspect and look past our cultural upbringing and societal norms that have labelled this topic a taboo, but is vital to a satisfying survival on this planet.
For a subject so vast, it can mean different things to people and bring out a spectrum of emotions within us. While one way of looking at it is to see how our perspective about sex and our level of comfortability in talking and learning about it has been greatly influenced by our upbringing and the cultural values of our families, community and country to a larger extent. It is a very hushed and under the carpet topic which is not given its due importance in our education curriculum as well. On the other hand, for a great many people sex can mean expectations which require one to be comfortable enough in talking about it with their partners and more so in understanding about their own body first. While it is primarily seen as the means to an end, it’s about time that we recognise it as an act of pleasure and immense desire. According to sexologist Theresa Johanne Kirkby, the meaning we give to sexuality changes and evolves along with us.
Just like how food, water, shelter, air and sleep are integral to our existence, so is sex, as clearly stated in ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, a psychology theory on human needs. So then, why do we as a society shy away from talking about it openly and keep it hushed behind closed doors? For instance, if we had a problem regarding our eating lifestyle and want to improve it or learn more on how to have a healthy and holistic diet, we go to great lengths in talking to various specialists and professionals, in addition to friends, family and relatives. Why does this not apply when it comes to the subject of our sexual health and well being?
Scholars of history and ancient scriptures would agree on the degree of candidness evident in texts such as the Mahabharata and Puranas when it came to having dialogues around sexuality. It is contradictory how the land that is home to the Kama Sutra, a renowned literary work on human sexual behaviour, also considers this topic a taboo now. How did this happen? Years of social conditioning has resulted in a majority of the society finding some discomfort while talking about anything to do with their sex lives. It is seen as a private matter which ought not to be discussed in the open. This is seemingly astonishing for a nation whose population is 1.2 billion and is growing at a rate of 1.1% according to statistical surveys. With the median age in India being 28.4 years and also being home to the largest adolescent population in the world, we can’t choose to stay silent about our sexual health any further.
It is vital, now more than ever, that we begin dialogues surrounding our sexual well being which involves many aspects. Healthy conversations should be encouraged where one feels comfortable and confident rather than any shame or guilt or reservations. When it comes to relationships, physical intimacy is as important as the emotional connection, and talking about sex with your partner can help build a better road map to what intimacy means for each of you. Besides this, there are various sexual problems faced by individuals wherein admitting it and acknowledging the need for help is overly stigmatised. Research shows that sexual dysfunction (any problem that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from sexual activity) is prevalent among 43% of women and 31% of men. With the advancement of technology that is backed by the knowledge wealth of ancient systems like Ayurveda, many of these issues can be easily resolved. But for that, it is important to address it to yourself, your partner as well as your healthcare provider.
Through the course of our upcoming blogs, we seek to open the forum to healthy discussions regarding sexual health and wellbeing, explore unconventional topics, get expert insights from professionals in the field and most importantly get people accustomed to learning and loving their bodies, feeling comfortable in their skin and be open to talking about sex.