Why Do Women Stay In Sexless Marriages? Sex, in any relationship is just as important as other things. Many Indian women complain of being in sexless marriages for majority of their life.
Is it because women don’t prioritise pleasure? Or is it because women are raised to believe the man’s orgasm is all that matters? When we hosted Sisterhood with Shaili on our YouTube channel, we asked women from different walks of life about navigating complex relationships that are mostly one sided.
Pallavi Barnwal, author and entrepreneur has written a book on the importance of pleasure. Here are except with her interview with SheThePeople.
SheThePeople: In India, the word “sex” is around shame. People don’t like to talk about it. It’s almost taboo. And particularly, women would never be talking about it in sort of way of having a right to it. Why did you decide to write a book on the issue?
Pallavi Barnwal: In a country where people, I don’t know, I would not even say they think twice. it is complete ‘no no’, like talking about sex is a complete ‘no no’. When I remember my earliest memories, I remember the channel being flipped if a scene comes in or then the lights went off. I was like, “Okay what happens after the lights went off?” And at the same time, I was entering my adolescence and I had those crushed on my teachers, on my classmates and I did not know what to do. I know that it is not, you are not supposed to talk about it. And that led to a lot of problems in my own life where, you know, heartbreaks or even like broken relationships, casual sex, friendships gone awry. So there’s a lot of problems that I faced personally and when I looked around I saw the same thing was happening.
You know, there is this constant conversation about how ‘sex’ is a bad word. But it served pretty clearly proven that surveys after surveys that Indians are having a and lots of it. So then why this stigma attached to this conversation? What does your research show? I think we have linked with not pleasure but sex with morality. Even married couples, I get because I run this platform on the pleasure I get a lot of stories and they say you know, if you are staying with in-laws, they are always prying eyes on you. So you really can’t hold hands or you can’t hug as a married couple. I mean, when a sanctified sanctioned relationship is like you can’t express your physical affection. You know, most of the people when they think of the word ‘sex’, they think this, like this, is what sex is. But sex is more than this, sex is more than a penetration. Sex is about pleasure, sex is about persona, sex is about identity. We hardly talk about those terms. So this is a porn educated patriarchal country and porn tells that sex is this. No wonder that people get ashamed about it. But if we you know, a lot of my work involve bringing Kamasutra. And when you read Kamasutra, it is a completely elevated experience of sexuality. Like they talk about pleasure, they talk about desire, they talk about arousal, they talk about experience, refinement, grace. So if we are able to broaden our thinking, I don’t think that this shame will last for a long time.
SheThePeople: In India, are people using marriage as a licence for sex? Is that what it is?
Pallavi Barnwal: Yes, because you don’t even know are you sexually compatible with each other. Is there a difference between libidos? A lot of times, I get stories where men complain that their wives have stopped having an interest in sex after becoming a mother. Because again sex is associated to the only reason sex is being kind of accepted is because it is a procreative role. It is never seen as recreation. So now the baby-making is over, I think my only reason to have sex with my husband, I am done with. So I am not interested. Marriage is social convenient. Let’s not associate marriage with love because there are a lot of other reasons that get people to get married: social recognition, security, financial security or comfort. So not just linking marriage with sex and love. Yes, marriage gives you to stay in a society without someone poking you.
Watch more perspectives on the issue in the video below