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Why Do Women Still Struggle For Sexual Liberty?

Simone de Beauvoir rightly said that a woman's independence includes her sexual liberty too. A woman must not have to lose her sexuality or femininity to be an independent human.  But is this true in our society?

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Rudrani Gupta
New Update
Image Credit: File Image

Image Credit: File Image

Lies, commonly condemned as morally reprehensible, have a significant impact on both the liar and the recipient. Deception leaves individuals feeling betrayed, manipulated, and bewildered. Yet, for women, lies often serve as a shield and a means of pursuing freedom. In order to fight for their autonomy, they find themselves relinquishing the fundamental principle of honesty, both with themselves and with others.

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The act of lying exerts an excessive toll on one's sense of identity, instilling doubt regarding one's values and nurturing a sense of guilt for deceiving loved ones. Women are confronted with these complex emotions as they strive to exercise their basic rights. The challenge escalates when the pursuit of sexual liberation enters the equation, as societal taboos compound the complexities surrounding this endeavor.

As  Simone de Beauvoir astutely observed, true independence for a woman encompasses not only political and financial autonomy but also sexual agency. To her, a woman achieves full independence when she can exercise her right to vote, secure her own financial stability, and freely express her sexuality without fear of losing her femininity or societal approval.

However, Indian women are often expected to accept the limited freedoms allotted to them without complaint. They are told to be grateful for what they have, even if it falls short of what they deserve as human beings. This so-called "privilege," which is nothing more than basic rights, is defined by patriarchal norms that dictate what women can and cannot do.This definition often includes access to a certain level of education and perhaps employment, but it comes with strings attached. Women are expected to conform to societal expectations, including marrying at the "right" time and to the "right" person as chosen by patriarchal standards.

Yet, within this framework of supposed privilege, one fundamental right is consistently denied to women: sexual freedom. Before marriage, women are effectively barred from expressing any sexual desires or being sexually active. They are treated as though they are incapable of experiencing or even discussing sex, as if it is an inappropriate or shameful topic.

Meanwhile, men are granted the freedom to explore their sexuality before marriage without facing the same level of scrutiny or judgment. This glaring double standard raises important questions: Why must women suppress their natural desires? Why should they forfeit their sexual autonomy? If it's acceptable for men to engage in premarital sex, why are women condemned for doing the same? Why must women sacrifice so much in order to preserve a fragile notion of so called  'izzat'? 

How women struggle to seek sexual liberty

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Modern women, in contrast to previous generations, are not ready to be the so-called 'sacrificial lamb'.They are asserting their independence and pursuing sexual freedom, even if it means resorting to tactics like deception, confrontation, or evasion.

For many women, maintaining this newfound autonomy involves deceiving their families. They fabricate stories or provide false information to justify leaving the house and meeting their partners. Often, they face strict time constraints, frequent check-ins, and even location tracking by their families. However, to reclaim their personal freedom, women find themselves compelled to manipulate their relatives, despite the emotional toll it may take.

To achieve this, they resort to manipulation, often deceiving loved ones to safeguard their personal choices. This can involve various tactics, such as enlisting the help of friends to cover for them, keeping their whereabouts hidden from family members by turning off their phones or disabling location services, or even asking partners to park their vehicles discreetly to avoid suspicion, assuming heterosexual relationships. Additionally, some may go to lengths like concealing their identity in public by wrapping their faces with a scarf, to avoid being recognized by people in their community.

Furthermore, concealing physical evidence of intimate encounters, like a hickey, poses another challenge. Women may feel compelled to wear clothing that covers the mark entirely. If spotted, they may resort to fabricating explanations, such as claiming it to be a bruise. Moreover, societal expectations surrounding virginity remain the same, particularly concerning marriage prospects for women. Faced with this pressure, women may feel obligated to misrepresent their sexual history to conform to societal norms. Unlike men, they cannot openly embrace their sexual freedom, fearing not only the dissolution of their marriage but also the tarnishing of their family's reputation. 

Time to break the rules and stigma

How long must women go to such lengths just to assert their fundamental rights? Is it not burdensome and risky to constantly deceive and fabricate stories? What happens if a woman slips up and her family discovers her actions? Should she face consequences for her lies and relationships?

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The issue here lies in the cultural expectation that women must uphold morality and maturity, especially in comparison to men. Families are deeply wounded by female deceit, yet they cannot bear to hear the truth. This double standard places women in an impossible situation. Whether they choose to lie or tell the truth, they are disadvantaged.

However, it's essential to recognize that independence, including sexual freedom, is a woman's inherent right. There is no shame in pursuing this freedom by any means necessary, whether through deception or unabashed honesty. Women should not be condemned for exercising their rights, regardless of their methods. The patriarchy is at fault for placing a family's izzat and a woman's purity in her vagina. If deception and advocacy for rights are deemed wrong, why does patriarchy perpetuate lies such as 'Ladki paraya dhan hoti hai'?  And if this isn't lie, then why restrict someone who isn't in your possession?

Views expressed are the author's own.  

   

 

Patriarchy sex sexual desires
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