Is it ok to talk about sex for a moment?
Because it seems Asians are not very good at talking about sex. I mean we’re very good at skirting around the issue (no pun of course). Bollywood films and Bhangra videos are full of highly sexualised content. And yet no one really talks openly about sex in the Asian community.
So let’s just deal with the elephant in the room first. Whether we’re talking about it or not, Asians are having sex. Outside of marriage. People need to deal with that. Teenagers are doing it without their parents knowing (their parents don’t even know they’re dating!) Couples who have no specific intention of getting married try each other out to see if they’re sexually compatible. Engaged couples do the sex-dependant- on- marriage- thing. And there are all the other permutations in between. Work colleagues. Marital affairs. University students. Holiday flings. Bar hook-ups. One night stands. And on and on…
Why is sex still such a taboo subject amongst the Asian community?
Writer Abhilasha Purwar claims that “our old Indian society is trapped in the shackles of its values and traditions, and often repeats to the new generation: “Sex is for procreation, not for recreation”.
In other words there are some who still equate sex with the duty of having good Asian sons children and not with pleasure. It’s those people who judge others who have sex for pleasure or intimacy. One Asian editor asked me not to mention sex in an article about dating, go figure, because she didn’t think it was ‘nice’.
Come on people! We need to give a language to this practise. Because it is a reality- people are having sex outside of the South Asian cultural, religious and traditional bounds. And at what point should I mention that it was Indians that gave the world the Kama Sutra?
Yes for some sections of the community, religion prohibits sex outside of marriage, so it’s a matter of sexual purity. I see nothing wrong with that at all. I’m not saying here I endorse sex outside of marriage; I’m not giving you my specific views on it. What I want is to allow those who choose to be sexually active outside of marriage to talk about it without causing shock and alarm and certainly without all the slut-shaming- which is rife.
I had wanted this article to be about whether British Asian women should have more sexual freedom. I wanted to ask whether it’s time to acknowledge that our culture is evolving and sexual freedom is one of the products of that evolution. But I realised that as a community, we are not there yet- we’re simply not ready to ask that yet.
But we do need to have a constructive and honest dialogue on the subject. It could enable us to deal with double standards, such as turning a blind eye to a man who “has his fun” before marriage, but insisting that women are virgins. We can teach our young people about the emotional realities of a sexual relationship, not to mention the health implications; and yes, talk about the benefits of waiting for a committed relationship or marriage.
We can attempt to deal with rape culture by teaching our sons to respect women, and that sex is a sacred and consensual act; not something they are entitled to and can simply take from a woman (or sadly, a child). This would enable us to deal better with domestic abuse and sexual violence in our culture.
Instead we pretend that Asians only have sex after we marry and maintain a façade that no one is doing it. It’s time we do away with the silence and the judgement and have a mature and realistic discussion.