By Anithya Balachandran
Illustration by Yogee Chandrasekaran
My relationship with my sexuality has been like a wildlife documentary. There are times when I am the prey, ensnared in the clutches of brawny toxic men. There are times when I am the calculative predator. And my loved ones watch from afar, providing commentary calmly, like our beloved David Attenborough, on the disaster that is about to unfold. How did I get here and why? Truth be told I am still seeking the answers in sloppy kisses under the tungsten light of my balcony and bar-stool footsie games.
I have spent many a morning-after just face-palming myself and muttering under my breath “Anithya, why are you like this?”. My pensive, guilty state is only broken by my Uber driver telling me that I have reached my destination- home. My inability to say no has contributed to this guilt and often landed me in significant trouble. By trouble I mean solo trips to the chemist to purchase an i-Pill. I am what you would call a “people pleaser” and sadly the pleasure is seldom returned.
I have sat with many metaphorical microscopes and real friends to examine the nature of my sexuality. And the only question I truly want to resolve is: Why do I feel guilty about satiating my physical desires? As endless as these desires seem sometimes, the truth is, they are natural. Our desire to make love, fuck or copulate (choose a term, I believe in democracy) is natural (editor : as is a desire to not). So, why do we face guilt when we freely act on these desires?
My formative sexual experiences were based around solely pleasuring the man. It was only 2 years into this journey that I discovered I am allowed to orgasm too. What I initially thought of as a single player game, it turns out, has multiplayer options too and this led to a liberation which allowed me to finally focus on what I desired. These desires allowed me to explore, experiment within the confines of a dimly lit room until I realised I was getting pleasured but not respected. I was still walking the tightrope; my feet weren’t firmly on the ground and I am not referring to the blissful lightheadedness you experience post a mind-altering orgasm.
The more respect my sexual experiences lacked, the less respect I gave to myself hence, the guilt monster resurfaced frequently. I would call myself names and subject myself to a monologue in the shower that would be somewhere along the lines of convincing myself to abstain from sex entirely and treat it as a pleasure I didn’t deserve. I desperately wanted to change the state of my bedroom affairs because I couldn’t become that person who I was when younger, who only indulged in sexual experiences for the pleasure of another. I have an equal or possibly larger stake over my pleasure than the person I am sleeping with, so I had to be the one that changed things. The reins to my clitoris’ satisfaction and my sanity lay predominantly in my hands.
A large part of the answer to my guilt I discovered is our social conditioning. Especially when you were raised by a mother who strictly said “No boyfriends till you are 25” but your adolescent self is fed up with making out with her pillow and is desperate to go out there and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. But apart from that I have noticed that the guilt is borne out of unclear boundaries. In not setting clear boundaries I set myself up for an unavoidable crash. Most of us refuse to look in the mirror and acknowledge our desires. I tiptoed around them until I was presented with the opportunity to unleash them. And when our desires are not acknowledged, the act of succumbing to them becomes sinful and that aura of disrespect starts to surround it somehow.
I am the person that falls in love with a summer holiday fling and I am also that person who has jumped into bed with another after a few hours of conversation. In my head, that is enough time to decipher a person but the truth is I am laying out my vulnerabilities in front of someone I have only discussed superficial things like favorite colors and films. I never seem to be able to muster enough courage to lay out what I am comfortable in wanting. And when you act according to the whims of another person’s desire, you often feel disrespected, then hollow and guilty for wanting to be satiated and after you are satiated, the hollowness and guilt plays out in full force.
From all these trials and error-based experiences I have concluded that if we acknowledge and recognize our needs, then and only then will we stop going to war with ourselves. You are neither the prey nor a predator. You are merely a being responding and satiating your basic needs.
Anithya Balachandran. 22. A writer still trying to figure out the cogs and wheels of adulthood sustained by the love of her puppy.