As a living example of growing up in a humble middle class home, I can most confidently vouch that no, I haven’t ever discussed sex with my parents. Once when certain twisted turn of events led to the surfacing of this issue making both my sibling and I shudder with awkwardness, we slyly brushed off the topic by rambling about more important things, like dinner.
When it came to the duty of education in enlightening us on the overtly derided subject, the picture wasn’t very comforting either. Most of us either bent our heads in embarrassment or failed at suppressing giggles at the slightest mention of the ‘s’ word.
And when the frustrated Biology teacher ever lifted their head from the book, they’d question us with professional adroitness, ‘What is there to laugh about?!’
If we take a step back, India was a sexually permissive society once. From religious epics like Mahabharata to carnally fascinating architecture on the Konark Temple in Orissa, all suggest that India of that era didn’t completely avoid the subject of sex like we do now.
So what happened? How did the laws of procreation and pleasure get so difficult to talk about? Why is sex still a taboo?
In 2005, the Supreme Court had said that sex education in schools could not be brought under the scope of fundamental rights by making it part of the right to education.
‘We cannot make it (sex education) a fundamental right,’ a bench comprising Justices Ruma Pal and A R Lakshmanan said while dealing with a PIL that had suggested making sex education in schools compulsory.
Regardless to say, we ended up still struggling with the burgeoning curiosity about sex among the youth and the lack of enough resources to satiate it. Young adults and teenagers depend on the precarious bounds of the internet to gather information. While that is theoretically helpful it doesn’t quite provide moral counselling.
Conceptual knowledge about sex can be gained through the internet, but psychologically indispensable prerequisites like consent, communication and connection, aren’t something you mug up from a web page. They are supposed to be understood and discussed- something that can either be done in a classroom or at home. And when both of these places treat sex as indecorous and degrading, it results in a breed of un/misinformed people, which ultimately becomes dangerous.
Harrowing incidents of rapes and other sexual crimes have become so disgustingly common, that they no more hold the element of surprise but rather guilt.
Awareness is the key. Making sure that our youth understand that sex is a normal, vital part of life is needed. There is nothing shameful, funny or criminal about it.
Famous American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, in his theory of psychology of needs put love and intimacy as the third most important factor in the hierarchy of life. He claimed that humans needed to love and be loved both sexually and non-sexually by others.