When the female protagonist in the film Piku said dismissively “it’s a need”, referring to sex and her non-virgin status, she set aflame passionate rebuttals, assertions and opinions on the subject. Her sentiment is not as uncommon as it once used to be. Independent women make their own decisions today, and are no longer fixated on a coy, virginal path to the altar. A woman being matter of fact about it is a sign of changing times.
However, the presumed self-empowerment in such decisions can be fraught with many pitfalls unscrupulous partners can sour or even damage lives, and it is always the women who get the raw deal. For me, one factor stands out as a constant through the ages and across cultures men set the rules, or at least the rules in physical relationships bend in the man’s favour. When the chips are down, the woman has it worse than the man, termed “loose” or “fast” for being sexually liberated. What’s even worse is that many women endorse the said impression too.
Even when it comes to rape, there are people who hold the opinion that the woman asked for it with her skimpy attire. But rape happens even with children, doesn’t it? Indeed, whether seen as a biological need as basic as food or as a carnal indulgence to be ashamed of, the fact of the matter is that the subject is inexhaustible, because there are no absolute conclusions. When it is perceived as right, it is so within certain social parameters that give it a social sanction. When it is perceived as wrong, it is attributed to bestial, impulsive irresponsibility without a care for consequences, outside of socio-cultural norm.
Scientifically, it has been established that a woman is as much a human being as a man, with biological needs of her own. She seeks companionship as naturally as a man does. The moment she expresses this aspect of herself, however, she transforms into a slut! The epithet for a man doing the same would be “Casanova”, positive to the point of being heroic.
The urban scenario is admittedly a little more liberal and Western society less constrictive, but it’s really a matter of varying degrees. One wonders if there is some genetic or even divine coding at work. Why does the woman have to run harder and harder only to find herself on a treadmill? Even in the “liberal” West, some mothers advise their daughters to keep their legs together before marriage, while the boy may merrily sow wild oats!
I do believe that the answer lies in a relationship with balance, where there is sexual liberation and friendship without taking it all too far, because society is still attempting to negotiate a woman’s sexual liberation. Times are changing, fortunately, and a woman must also be self-assured so that these small steps can translate into larger, sustainable change.
The author is a luxury consultant. Mail her at nishajamvwal@-gmail.com...