Thursday, February 23, 2012

Repression reflux

We Indians have a really screwed up view about sex and sexuality. We’ve always had. Whether it is film censoring or day to day taboos, sex seems much more horrific and sweep-under-the-carpet worthy to us than violence, unethical behavior, and a hundred other awful things that happen everyday. It’s quite amazing really that gory, super violent films like the new Agneepath -- and a lot of others – pass muster, while any film with the slightest hint of handling sex or sexuality in any way immediately gets the chop.

About 80% of 20-30 yr olds that I interact with on a daily basis have little or no real information about not just human sexuality and its myriad facets in general but their own bodies and how they function, or how basic man-woman (which is the only form they can imagine) sexual activity functions. They think they know… at least some of them … but the knowledge is either half baked or totally wrong. Not surprising given the fact that they have never even seen their parents hold hands, have never heard a single honest conversation about sex, never been given a clear idea of what it is, and never been encouraged or given the tools to help them to find out for themselves.

Over the years, ever since I was about 16 or so, I have ended up counseling not just people younger than me, but my peers as well, in matters carnal – simply because I have always been better informed than any of them about these things thanks to my brilliant family and their frank and honest upbringing. Sadly, the trend continues, and I still find I am better informed than a lot of people my age, and younger, in spite of them having a WAY better access to information than we had in our formative years, and in spite of most of them being sexually active.

Of wait! Indians don’t have sex before marriage, right? Well, that’s what most Indians believe anyway, even as they themselves indulge in casual sex, premarital and extramarital sex, chat sex, phone sex, sexting, and what not. The section that doesn’t indulge – its not for a want of trying. Their escapades are limited merely by the segregated nature of most of semi urban and non urban India, their own fear and horror of sex (what if someone found out, what if she got pregnant, what if her family killed them both, etc etc), and their lack of access to willing partners and spaces to experiment in.

And it is this very repressed latter category of chatters who mainly populate that prime example of the results of repression in Indian society – the chat room! I am more and more a misfit in this chat world, despite being a veteran and a regular (see chat masala), simply because I am still here looking for CLEAN chat, for normal, decent, hopefully interesting, conversation, while 99% of the others seem to be here solely for something called HOTCHAT. What being might that be? Well, its funny really, from what I have been able to make out as an outsider, this hotchat or sexchat seems to be some form of make believe playacting, sort of like a fantasy roleplay, but with faceless strangers.

Now, that makes absolutely no sense to me at all. Why on earth would I want to pretend to have sex with a faceless stranger? Or wish to discuss the intimate details of my sex life, sexual fantasies, preferences, etc with one? The only explanation I can think of for the almost complete prevalence of this kind of chat in the various rooms is that these people just don’t get enough in their lives! I can imagine the odd roleplay situation (with my partner), or the desire to fulfill the odd fantasy or two (also with my partner), but cannot under any circumstances imagine wanting to do either compulsively, all the time, and with every stranger I meet in a chat room!

Yes, I can imagine that some people do find this kind of anonymity a turn on, and sure, I know many who would probably not be averse to a bit of fake fun once in a while, but when it becomes as compulsive and as constant as it is with these chatters, one has to wonder what the problem is. Why this constant need to talk about sex sex sex 24/7? To the extent that I actually get insulted for asking for clean chat? To the extent that I an abused, called names, or worse, pestered and irritated to within an inch of my life for not indulging in this overwhelming obsession of the online Indian?

The reasons are not far to seek. You are talking about a culture where you cannot and I mean CANNOT talk about sex across generations. Where talking about sex within your peer group is this massively taboo, deliciously forbidden, goose-bump-raisingly whisper-only subject. Where even partners engaging in sex DARE not tell each other what they desire or what feels good for fear of being seen as promiscuous or being accused of knowing too much (more applicable in the case of women, especially since being INNOCENT and VIRGINAL is so much of a premium still, and the reason why a huge chunk of Indian women have never had an orgasm in their lives). Not surprising, given this atmosphere, that any chance to talk about it would be like a heaven sent. When something is so firmly and single mindedly swept under the carpet, it is more likely to explode into uncontrollable yearning. And that’s a fact of life.

While more and more people, and younger and younger ones, are engaging in sexual activity, (an India Today Survey some years ago put the number of 10 to 12 year olds engaging in sexual experimentation at about 60%) most people with 10 year old marriages have no clue what they are doing beyond the basic insert, thrust, and go to sleep. Concepts such as foreplay, experimentation, and alternative preferences r dismally abysmal, yet the chat rooms are full of people looking for incest and BDSM chat. (of course you soon realize that to a large number of people there seems to be no difference between the words incest and intercourse). Like all anonymous platforms, the internet, specifically the chat rooms, gives most of the people who feel “different” the freedom to try to find like minded people…. And that’s a good thing. It’s the thrusting of your preferences down my throat regardless of whether I am interested or not that I have a problem with, and that comes from the bang of reflux caused by the insane pressure of sexual repression.   

Hence, we live in a country where, when I chat, and also in day to day life, I am no better than a prostitute because I don’t see any problem with sleeping with someone I love, regardless of whether I am married to them, but I am a prude and a narrow minded person because I do not wish to engage in MATURE chat with someone I do not know from Adam. Where I am a popular go-to person for people online and off, looking for some knowledge and some counseling on matters of sexual health, but they will still try to engage me in sexchat, or to ask me personal questions which I will never answer, in spite of knowing full well that it will make me delete them from my list of knowable people and hence cut off their access to their only source of accurate information.

Well, that’s what happens when you don’t have a free and healthy mindset and a reasonable attitude to something that is just another part of a healthy life. Then it becomes, as sex is in India, your single minded obsession, something that you want all the time, from everyone, but something you will denigrate others for having or doing. It becomes the thing that twists your entire mind and life into intricate, unnecessary and unsolvable knots that will skewer every aspect of your life.

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