Payal Shah Karwa on why we need to create a sex-positive society.

Back in 1991, when Kamasutra condoms released their first condom ad with Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson together in a steamy shower scene, it was outright banned by Doordarshan and other media channels. But, if I had to pay homage to the late advertising and theater genius, Alyque Padamsee, who created this ad commercial, I would use this to salute his bravado. He and his agency were probably the first people to bring in the ‘pleasure of lovemaking’ in condoms. This was just twenty years ago when ‘sex’ was all about family planning and not pleasure.

In the same era, the closest a teenager came to experiencing sex was the Mills and Boon novels or a half-baked kiss in a Bollywood film. For the boys, they had their ‘blue-films’ which they huddled up in a room and watched secretly. Topics of puberty, periods and penis were spoken about secretively. Rather than secretively, it was with a tad embarrassment and shame. In a nut’s shell, ‘sex’ was the ‘dirty’ word which nobody wanted to pronounce out loud. The society was indeed very sex-negative.

And it still is. Even 20 years later, in the post Internet era, the sexually repressive culture still prevails. However, a sort of a sexual revolution seems to have found a shore here in India. Maybe it has already docked. And it is a good thing, because it’s about time ‘sex’ found a positive approach in the lives and minds of us, Indian people, before the repression become a springboard of an uncontrollable revolution, like it happened in the US, where cults freaked out and where children and young adults, teens and tweens grew up in a mess. We sooo need a sex positive society, and we will soon see why:

WTF IS BEING SEX-POSITIVE?

Sex-positive’ is an all-encompassing statement which has various references and meanings like:

  • Being comfortable about talking and learning about sex and sexuality, without feeling ashamed or embarrassed
  • Enjoying sex as a natural, healthy and pleasurable expression of love without labeling it as ‘sinful’ and dirty
  • Respecting the idea of sex
  • Being comfortable with different sexual orientations of people, without being judgmental
  • Promoting sex-education for safe sexual health
  • Accepting one’s body and not body-shame
  • One word, umpteen references. I feel orgasmic just

WHY SHOULD WE MOVE TOWARDS BEING SEX POSITIVE?

Now why should we be liberating ourselves from the shackles of shame when it comes to sex? Here’s why:

Sex is highly important for mental and physical health. Making it secretive brings upon it an element of taboo. People, especially teenagers tend to learn about it the wrong way – either by watching the wrong kind of porn or asking the wrong people

Sex education or talking about sex in a matured way can help diminish sex abuse. The latest report by UNESCO on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) points out the urgent need for imparting this education to young people to help them lead healthy and sexually satisfying lives. Learning about sex in a cultured manner will instill a sense of respect for women, and not objectify them.

Sexual violence, rape, harassment can be kept in check to a large extent given that young adults can be sensitized towards the topic of sex and exploitation and help the recognize it. More #MeToo instances can be avoided.

HOW DO WE GET TO BE MORE SEX POSITIVE?

1) Undirty The Word ‘Sex’

The first thing we need to start doing is to ‘Undirty Sex’. Sex is an act of love or lust of which we are born of, so how can it be ‘dirty’? Sex is not dirty per se, but it’s because of our moral judgment that people perceive it as ‘sinful’. For instance sex without marriage is (or was) considered a sin, an act of shame. But sex within marriage, whether it’s a happy one or not, is blissful, desirable and a foundation for happy generations.

So what say we take sex out of all these contextual parameters as simply take it as a chemical reaction that can create an unsaid bond between two individuals. Why treat it with shame, silence, guilt or crass humour? It’s a positive emotion. So let’s be positive about the positive emotion.

2) Respect, respect, respect

The second step in being sex positive is to treat the idea of sex with ‘respect’ and not make it frivolous or seem less important. It’s an expression of love and commitment towards your partner, and towards your own physical needs.

3) Talk. Share. Discuss

Try talking to your friends about it by asking a casual question. Pose a related issue you have been facing (maybe fictitious). From my experience, people know would not mind talking freely. Of course, this does not mean ask the next person you meet on the train about their vaginal itches.

4) Sex sans vulgarity

There is a difference between dirty jokes and healthy humour on sex. Vulgar, crass humour should be shot down, but don’t forget to share a snicker when a friend cracks a decent double entendre.

So let’s undirty the word ‘sex’, encourage conversations around sex/ sexuality/ sexual health, promote sex ed, make society comfortable with the idea of sex.

Stay sexy, stay healthy, stay sex-positive!

This Article Was First Published In SheAndYou

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