My friend who grew up in the “motherland” was explaining a story in which she was at a bridal shower/bachelorettte party. When it came to playing games or making the sexual jokes that we are so used to in such a setting, the girls (including the bride) could not stop laughing or acting like sex and men were gross
This mid-20s bride was going to have sex – ew just seems like such a strange reaction.
If she was an extremely young teenage bride – “ew” makes sense. Had she not masturbated? Had she not watched some sex scenes alone (presuming she is exposed to some media or the internet)? Did she not know what her body would feel like? Was she not told how to negotiate the way the man she was marrying was going to “break her virginity” (physically and emotionally)? The sad thing is that she probably did not. She probably saw sex as something the male “did to her” (hence the term “breaking” or “taking”). How can that ever be pleasurable? Sure, there are the being rough fantasies and wanting to be dominated in bed, but that pleasure comes with some bit of empowerment in a woman, doesn’t it?
Sometimes as a Desi woman I wonder what my life would have been like if I remained that “innocent” girl who only held onto these ideas of sexuality. Would I have been curious what sex would have been like outside of one person – the person I marry? I spent most of my life telling myself that I would never do anything before marriage. I grew up believing that women who just “opened their legs” before marriage were just weak. I grew up a hypocrite, judging other women for being confident in their sexuality.
Somehow, the tables have turned.
If I was at that party, I could not relate to those women. Although I do not believe I am any more educated and better off by any means, I would find myself in a warped universe if that was my mindset. I was told to be a “good girl” just like these women and that it would get me the “right guy”. Yet those “right guys” still only cared if I was pretty. They were the same “right guys” who were ready to talk about what was and was not “right” in sexuality, rather than about trying to figure out how to see pleasure as something deeply mutual.
I realized I grew up as a woman with some pretty twisted and narrow views of what sex needs to be. I first saw it as something that was just not negotiable before marriage. Anything outside of it was source of complete shame and a dark platform that left one vulnerable to judgment, scorn, and pity. Then I saw it as something not negotiable unless I am in love with someone that I see a highly probable future with. Finally, it became something I separate from love altogether.
In a matter of six years, my ideas/preconceptions of my sexuality were challenged, deconstructed, and at some points, completely shattered. My level and quality of sex mattered, and I suppose I embraced the beauty of passionate sex, but found myself confused between how much it was a making or breaking factor in a relationship – much less a marriage. I realized the difference between “a man selfish in bed” and a “man who cared about my pleasure”.
I always thought that only men distinguished between “sex” and “love” (there are certainly those who do not). I realized how untrue it was as I grew up. I heard from my conservative male and female counterparts that women who had sex before marriage were filled with “emotional baggage”. This was on their laundry list of reasons to wait until marriage. I cannot speak for women who are perfectly happy with that decision, but not all of us just have it that perfect. I would not call it emotional baggage, but rather that I just cannot see every sexual act as an act of love.
Now, I sit here jaded.
I am jaded not because I did not end up marrying the person I gave my body and heart to the most. What I am jaded about is how I have come to a point where I can simply turn off the concept of love and emotions right now in physical interactions. It seems to be a space mostly dominated by male images. I promise this is no competition with men – just some insight into the ability for the female to experience something similar. I also am not implicating myself or him as a victim when I talk about being jaded. I made my consensual decisions fully aware of the situations and we both made mistakes.
While this cliche conflict is all around the interwebs, I do wonder if love exists and if it is what should dictate our decision to marry or spend (presumably) our lives with someone. Is there just a special connection we go through with the person we spend the rest of our lives with, regardless of how passionate the sex is? Many girlfriends of mine mentioned that it takes real effort to maintain good sex in anything long term.
But it scares me more to lay in bed, bored, while he just “finishes” than to be alone.
I am supposed to remain ashamed of even thinking this as a Desi woman. How many of us have these experiences? How many of us were not lucky enough to be happy in “one go” (i.e. only sleeping with the people we marry and enjoy it)? And how many of us, after we believed we would have a “one go” sex life, simply are at the point of just wanting the physical pleasure? We are seen as emotional train wrecks when we ask these questions, while our male counterparts are generally viewed as “living the bachelor life” if they go through something similar. Yeah, yeah, people will say they judge guys who do that too, but society really does not. Stop pretending. I suppose that is not something to concern myself with anymore, anyway.
In all of this, there is always an emptiness. The answer to emptiness is generally proceeded with some sort of magical notion of love to fill that void. I just do not know if that is what will fill the void. Being in our mid-20s and close to our 30s, the truth is that we all come with some emotional baggage. We are not broken and somehow with each year passing we become resilient. It really is easier to be “broken” than it is to own up to the choices we have made and the experiences we have had in our sex and love lives. We should not have to look for validation or agreement from others about our choices, but just very simply, some level of empathy and understanding.
We are not incapable of falling back into the cycle of wanting to feel special, needed, and at the center of someone else’s world. We are not incapable of somehow believing there is someone who can understand all of this and help us believe that love really does exist.
But somehow, we have come to a point where we cannot help but play devil’s advocates with ourselves…