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Life Mantra
Anu Goel
Love, sex and the Indian teenager 14 August, 2016
At eighteen, Shanaya (not her real name) has a vibrant and happening sex life that her parents would never have imagined for themselves at that age. In the course of her teenage life, this Delhi University student has dabbled in a number of relationships and casual affairs which have involved some form of sexual intimacy.

In the past few years, Shanaya has been intimate with a woman, uploaded her naked selfies on the Internet, masturbated on camera for a bunch of strangers, had an affair with a married man and exchanged sexually explicit text messages with innumerable men. She is currently in a ‘Master/slave relationship’ with an older man whom she refers to as ‘Daddy’.

Shanaya talks to me about her sexual escapades. She expresses particular interest in BDSM (an overlapping acronym for ‘Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission and Sadism and Masochism’), a sexual subculture centered around power dynamics and fetishes.

BDSM relationships typically involve a dominant partner (Dom) who makes all the decisions, orchestrates all activity and exerts control, and a submissive partner (sub) who obeys all decisions of the Dom and upon whom control is exerted.

Shanaya herself identifies as a sub and tells me excitedly of all the times she has been given tasks, orders and assignments by Doms online.

This is not the only instance of a teenager being involved in sexual activity. The 10th Annual India Today-Nielsen Survey in 2012 revealed that around 34% of Indian women had lost their virginity during early puberty. The Indian Association of Pediatricians reports that 25 out of a hundred girls in a Delhi school are sexually active. 1 in 5 teenagers have admitted to watching pornography before the age of 13 and a staggering 90% of teenagers have no problem with premarital and casual sex, as long as precaution is being taken. Indeed, Shanaya’s own friends have had their fair share of boyfriends and girlfriends, sexual partners and crushes.

Born and brought up in a sexually repressive environment where TV channels are changed the moment a kissing scene comes on, talking to a member of the opposite sex can get tongues wagging, porn sites are banned by the government and relationships are seen as something ‘inappropriate for your age’, the teens of today want to break free from the shackles of a rigid, orthodox and narrow minded social structure and explore and understand their own thoughts, feelings and fantasies.

Suppression leads to rebellion and teenagers are indulging in sexual encounters despite the government and moral brigade’s best efforts to curtail such behaviour.

“I think sexual desire is a very central part of my life. Though it is something we don’t acknowledge, it flows all around us like this sort of an invisible energy, no matter how much we try to avoid it. The drives of love are not always congruent with ideas of objectivity and rationality, ” says Tathagata* (19).

He adds that there is no point of a Porn Ban as pornographic material has existed for as long as civilization has, in some form or the other and there is no running away from it.

For Bipasha* (19), sex is an important aspect of life as is everything else that elicits positive emotional reactions. Gaining pleasure and happiness out of life is all that is needed and sex plays an integral part. She finds free emotional expression and a sense of equality with her partner in sexual activity and would find it unwise to ignore and neglect her carnal desires for being an ‘unnecessary distraction’.

“Masturbation is okay,” she says “But it is not a substitute for the real thing.” An advocate of premarital and promiscuous sex, she believes that sexuality is something the government or society should never have control over.

Jasveer* (17), though emotionally unprepared for sexual activity of any kind, staunchly supports the right of individuals to freely express their sexuality as they please.

“To each their own” is the motto she stands by. On being asked for opinions on masturbation, homosexuality and premarital sex she says, “I would never indulge in any of these but I don’t see what is wrong with them.”

The world is becoming smaller, less complex and much more accessible at the click of a button. For those youngsters whose parents and guardians hold off from talking to them about sex, the Internet is a wealth of information about everything ranging from basic biological drives to the innumerable ways in which gratification can be obtained.

Television shows contain sexually explicit speech and suggestive jokes and forwards are circulated through phones and social media all the time. It is naive to believe that the child will be kept ignorant of these issues for as long as you choose to keep them that way.

Haider* (16) receives sexual gratification from what he sees on TV and the Internet. A die-hard fan of Scarlett Johansson, he often finds himself fantasizing about her and wanting to marry her. He enjoys viewing pornography and is okay with premarital sex as long as protection is used. “It is a normal thing,” he says. “No one should care about who is getting involved with whom. People should mind their own business.”

The way women are depicted in mass media invites criticism from some teens. Joshua* (18) complains, “Pornographic films depict the woman as a mere instrument for sexual satisfaction, which is creepy. I believe in equality even in the bedroom and am therefore very much disturbed by the content in pornography.” Lydia* (19) is not comfortable with viewing such material either. “I find the idea of watching other people fornicate to be repulsive,” she says.

For Pooja*(19), a healthy balance between work and pleasure, coupled with awareness and knowledge, is the key to a successful sexual life.

“Sexual activity is almost a necessity for a healthy adult life,” she believes. “It is not just desire. It is a sign of a healthy mind and body too.”

Committed to a man she met on an online forum for three years, Pooja juggles her relationship, social life and academic responsibilities wonderfully.

“I keep my relationship limited to my personal free time. As long as my significant other doesn’t affect my goals and dreams and vice versa, I think it is a healthy relationship.” Pooja openly advocates all forms of sexual expression in which no physical or emotional abuse is involved and all parties consent.

All these young people from diverse backgrounds and different walks of life have one thing in common- desire for liberation and freedom of expression, the will to smash oppressive social constructs and to do away with archaic notions of morality and dignity, of good and evil.

 “Sexuality is something very personal and no one has the right to question you about it,” quips Samaira* (17). She is joined by Anirrudh* (19) and Varun* (18) who add that nothing is truly immoral unless it is proving to be harmful and damaging to people and that it is important to change the definition of ‘normal’ and start accepting people for who they are.

This new generation does away with the misconceptions about youngsters that adults usually have. “Most parents believe that sex and relationships distract young minds from more important things at hand such as studies and career goals,” Shanaya says.

“However this is not necessarily true. I have friends whose personal lives do not have any tangible affect whatsoever on their grades and class performance. In fact, romantic relationships can be immensely enriching, rewarding and fulfilling in an emotional, intellectual and spiritual sense and can contribute a lot to one’s happiness.”

“Sometimes, negative feelings such as shame, guilt and fear are associated with sex,” says Rupali* (17). “However, this is solely due to the stigmatization of sexual desires and feelings and faulty learning patterns which lead to perceiving sex as something morally wrong and sinful. In a free, open and permissive society, shame and guilt associated with sex have no place.”

The attitudes and beliefs of the new generation make one thing clear. It is time to discard archaic and dogmatic notions and ideologies for more liberal, inclusive and broadminded ones. It is time to start accepting people for who they are in order to build an open and accommodative society. Are you ready for the revolution?

*The names have been changed 

The article is jointly written by Anu Goel (Counselling Psychologist) and intern Eesha Roy Chowdhury

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Mrs. ANU GOEL is a Counselling Psychologist. She has practiced in Mumbai for 5 years, and is currently practicing in Delhi since the last 7 years. Goel, who can be contacted at 9313320146 and anugoel75@gmail.com, is a member of the Counsellor's Association of India, and has been a guest speaker on several occasions.
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