#Opinion

Dear Women, Premarital Sex Isn’t A Mistake. Get Over The Guilt

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Premarital sex guilt: Recently my friend opened up about her first sexual experience. But more than being expressive about the moment, she stressed on her guilt.

She was worried about the chances of pregnancy and about being shamed for indulging in premarital sex. She was overwhelmed by the guilt about “losing her virginity”. Fear about being excommunicated by her family as she was no more “pure” and “good” engulfed her. As she was sharing all this with me, I could see patriarchy sneer in the background reiterating that a woman has no freedom to choose. Just because a woman chose to have sex before marriage, is it fair to make her undergo so many tribulations? Why is a woman’s relevance measured in terms of marriage, hymen and virginity?

Why is premarital sex a taboo in India

Raising a voice against patriarchy is like moving in circles. You start, you elevate and then come back to where you started. It is 2021 why don’t women still have the freedom to own their sexuality and make independent choices about their sex life? Why does women’s sex life depend on patriarchal ideas of progeny and purity and not on consent and desire? Why is premarital sex taboo in India? Why should marriage get to decide if a sexual relationship is legitimate or not? If women do not have the freedom to own their body and sexual choices, will empowerment ever be wholesome?

In our society, sex is not even uttered openly. It is considered as something that a person learns on their own when the “right time” strikes. But, the “right time” is decided by patriarchy that defines sex only in terms of progeny and male dominance. This is why in India, the right age to have sex is when a person gets married, despite the fact that the Indian constitution has set an age limit after which any consensual sex is valid.

But women’s sexuality, choices and desire have no place in patriarchy’s definition of sex. It is glossed over as unimportant or subjected to male dominance. Then naturally, premarital sex which is based on a woman’s choice and desire and not on progeny is considered a sin or unimaginable reality.

Sexual Health Banner, premarital sex

Mind you that sex before marriage is considered as blasphemous for women more than men, although both face restrictions on sexual choices. If a man indulges in premarital sex, it is often forgiven as a “mistake” committed in the flow of youthfulness. But women don’t get the freedom or opportunity to indulge in this “mistake” because a woman’s and her family’s reputation lies in her hymen. No matter how successful and empowered a woman is when it comes to her sexuality, it becomes the ground to legitimise patriarchal ideologies and violence.

Get over premarital sex guilt

But dear women, don’t feel guilty about indulging in premarital sex. It is not a mistake but a choice that you made for yourself and your body. Stop defining the first sexual experience and orgasm as a “loss” of virginity. It is an experience as important as other events of life that you have gained to appreciate your body.

To some extent, premarital sex or awareness about sex is a necessity, especially for women. If an unmarried woman doesn’t know about sex, consent and orgasm, how can she understand them after marriage? Is it not the same reason why consent for sex after marriage is often assumed to be granted? As far as the fear of pregnancy is concerned, the focus should be on increasing awareness about protected sex and abortion (in case of unwanted pregnancy) and not on opposing premarital sex. We need sex education which will play a vital role in delinking sex from patriarchal ideologies.

And dear society, it is high time now to accept that sex and sexuality are an integral part of our lives as a human. Whether it is premarital or not, sex is not only a means of progeny but a space where people know about their bodies and desires. And knowing about one’s own body is imperative for self-love and owning the body and its choices. So stop shaming women who have premarital sex. Refrain from judging consensual sex on the parameters of marriage. Not marriage, but mutual consent, understanding and love make a sexual relationship legitimate.

Views expressed are the author’s own.