Women in sexless marriages and the struggle to legitimise pleasure: Sex in India comes at a hefty cost for most adults. The cost of having to endure a lifelong bond with a person, largely handpicked by your family.
Amused? Don’t be. Most adults are lured into marriages in India because that is your legit licence to have sex. We still are a society that looks down upon premarital and extramarital sex. But is marital sex all that satisfactory? What must a woman do if her husband stops desiring her after marriage? Must she sacrifice her desire for pleasure then?
Men in India are not raised to love sex, they are conditioned to love the idea of sex and virility. They want to be seen as studs and casanovas, thus the focus is mostly on getting the deed done. But what next? Once the initial thrill of exploring sex is done and dusted with where does that leave a person and their partner?
For women though the story is different. We are conditioned to believe that sex is a duty that we need to perform in order to keep our partner happy. At most a good sex life is touted to be a key to a happy marriage. What about female pleasure? Most women are discouraged from going down that road by society, using labels like slut, shameless, characterless for any woman so much as even says the word out loud, let alone demand it.
Such conditioning also implies that a married woman should sacrifice pleasure for the sake of her marriage. But no woman should have live in a relationship where seeking pleasure deems her selfish, inconsiderate or promiscuous.
Desire is not a switch that you can flick off at your convenience or depending on your partner’s libido. It exists in that space between you and your partner on your marital bed. It can grow into a lifelong resentment of being denied intimacy without explanation. It can sow seeds of hatred, mistrust, self-esteem issues and even mental health issues.
But what happens when the spark is gone from marriage is seldom discussed in families, even couples. Since society expects women to not enjoy sex in the first place, it is not prepared to handle a conversation on a married women unfulfilled sexual desire. Any desire she has that isn’t fulfilled by her husband is illegitimate. She has not right to demand what her husband cannot or would not provide- financially, sentimentally or sexually. After all, sacrifice is a virtue ingrained in our conscious. how difficult could it be for a “virtuous” woman/ sati-savitri to give up on sexual desire then?
Guess what, women are tired of being sati-savitris. It is ludicrous to expect women to meekly oblige and gleefully sacrifice sexual pleasure and wait for the sweet release of death from a sexless marriage. While forcing your desires on your partner is certainly not the way forward, what women can do is to establish a clear channel of communication with their partner to make it clear that they are not okay with the situation. That’s the first step- to say it out loud and to make your needs clear. While there is no sure shot solution for sexless marriages, women shouldn’t have to endure in silence.