Some 20 percent of men believe that a woman who uses contraception may become promiscuous, says the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). As a nation where sex remains a taboo topic, it isn’t surprising how misunderstood female sexuality is among Indian men. Any measure women take, even if it is to prevent unwanted pregnancies, is seen as an act of promiscuity. Will it be unfair then, to say that any display of agency on our part, when it comes to our bodies and sex lives, tends to intimidate the society.

SOME TAKEAWAYS:

  • 20 percent of men think that women who use contraceptives may become promiscuous, says NFH survey.
  • The misconceptions regarding contraception stem from our association of sex with an act meant only for procreation.
  • The onus of this norm falls mostly on women. Society opines that it is natural for men to have sexual desires, but not for women.
  • Also, such men may see the use of contraceptives by their partners as reluctance to embrace motherhood.

As a nation where sex remains a taboo topic, it isn’t surprising how misunderstood female sexuality is among Indian men.

Such intense is the orthodox conditioning in our society that nearly 20 percent of men see use of contraceptive as a threat to their ownership of women’s wombs. Another reason for this mind-set may be that the society still sees motherhood as women’s biggest duty towards it and their families. It expects us to embrace motherhood as and when it comes our way, and that is what men are taught about women as well. A woman wanting to be a mother is pious, dedicated, family-oriented and also a faithful wife.

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So using contraception may be seen by some as a rejection of motherhood, and eventually, lack of desire to bear your husband’s child, and thus not being devoted to him. In our male-centric society, a big chunk of the dominant gender still doesn’t have any regards to women’s agency or their gaze. The world revolves around a man’s demands, needs, and perspective for them. Which means the use of contraception is a lack of commitment on their wife’s part.

Secondly, the taboo around the use of contraceptives is also a tell-tale sign of our inhibitions when it comes to women’s sexuality, and sex in general. With a population of 1.3 billion one can safely say sex in our country translates into procreation for most. While everyone desires sexual pleasure our social and moral upbringing strong arms us into seeing is as a ‘dirty’ and ‘immoral’ act if not performed with the purpose of bringing a child into this world. But the burden of these norms rests on women more than men. It is a bigger taboo for women to have sexual desires, while it is largely accepted among men. Infact many are of the opinion that is natural for men to have sexual desires, while we continue to think women to be asexual beings, devoid of any inclination for carnal pleasure. So, even the slightest interest in your sex life, even from a precautionary point of view, makes you ‘promiscuous’.

There is a serious gap in understanding, when it comes to sex and sexuality, not just among two genders, but in various age groups and strata of our society. The only way to normalise the use of contraceptives and squash sex-related taboos is to have more frank conversations. Let’s not shy away from speaking on sex and making men realise that using contraceptives is responsible behaviour and not a promiscuous one. Family planning is the need of the hour in our country and with the cost of living going up by the hour, it makes sense to think about the size of the family in advance for a better future.

Picture credits: Captain Mums

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are author’s own.

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