They can laugh and shame me all they want, but it’s through sexual relationships that I learned how to build trust, seek consent, and stop judging.
By Arpit Chhikara
Illustrations by Sayalee Karkare
I had gone to his home to get some new software. He told me where the necessary material on his computer was located. He was my friend who was about a decade older than me. I copied the whole folder and ejected my pen drive. I came home and saw a “New Folder” among all the other folders. In that folder were some books in pdf format. One of them was “Kamasutra” illustrated and written by Anne Hooper. Later on, I found that the original “Kamasutra” by Vatsyayana was also in that folder. My fourteen-year-old hormone driven teenage desires got an outlet for release. What I didn’t know was that it would take me another half decade to make use of that sexual wisdom that I had begun imbibing at that age. That day marked a new beginning in my life as a sexual being and since then, there has been no looking back.
We are surrounded by a shame culture. Ask your parents where you came from and you’ll get an answer. That answer will be incorrect which you’ll obviously realize at some point in your life. The biggest trouble I had while growing up was not the lack of sex education by parents and teachers. That trouble was lack of sexual freedom. The freedom to be open and honest with your sexuality and desires with yourself and people around you without the fear of being humiliated or shamed, that to me is sexual freedom.
The first time I was judged as horny, was at the age of 12. A girl who used to show me her poems was my close friend. I wanted to kiss her plump lips. I didn’t know how to take things ahead, so I told her my intentions to see if she too felt the way I felt. Sitting here and writing this I still wish we had kissed each other rather than the girl getting her seat changed by informing the class teacher. Not responding to someone’s desires is totally your choice but shaming them for their actions leaves them scarred.
Ever since then, I’ve faced numerous accusations of being a pervert. For example, one girl told me you are only into physical stuff. If giving and receiving pleasure is vulgar and obscene, call me a creep. When my body was growing, hormones were flowing, and I was full of sexual energy, I had no safe outlets for my bodily urges. I had to confine my feelings to my thoughts and not speak about them or act on them.
There was a conflict between the messages I was receiving through my head and what my body was heading towards. Whenever there was a scene in a movie that involved undressing or kissing between a couple, it was fast forwarded by my parents. I wanted to sit with girls in school but teachers had strict rules to not indulge in inter-sex bonding. Then there was our Hindi teacher who was of the opinion that a girl and a guy can never be friends. They can be friends by creating a boundary of intimacy between them, I wish I could tell this to her.
While the guys around me were busy watching porn to learn about sex and human bodies, I had my focus on the books that I read and re-read for two years. Over time, a lot of my beliefs were shattered. I came to understand that the mere act of penetration and ejaculation by a male is not sex as they show in porn. To me, sex is a way people connect with each other by willingly coming together to give and receive gratification without feeling pressured to perform in a certain way.
My sexual experiences taught me that every person has their own pace to get comfortable enough to bare their bodies. I also learned what arouses me and felt secure in sharing with my partner. Having a biological sense of a vagina and a penis and intercourse is one thing and knowing when to stop, building trust, having consent and being non-judgmental are totally different things. I learned the former from my science teacher and understanding of the latter came through my sexual experiences. Books never told me that flavored condoms were suited only for oral sex and not for vaginal penetration. My parents didn’t tell me what was that sticky fluid that used to leave marks on my underwear whenever I read erotic magazines. I had no idea why I used to feel a tingle down my belly when a girl touched me. My questions eventually led me towards answers.
I had people around me in school and college who used to debate on pre-marital intercourse and virginity of a woman, oral sex, sodomy, homosexuality in guys and other topics that surrounded sex and body. Their world was very different than mine. My journey into sexuality had taught me things that were very different from what others believed. If a girl wants to have an abortion, that’s not disrespectful towards society, it is her personal decision. If I am sexually deprived and regularly masturbating, it is not something I should feel shame about. Eventually, I found my path towards sexual freedom and let go of the beliefs and ideas that did not match with my personal values around sex. Everybody has the choice to be sexual if they want to and how they express themselves is unto them.
My friend had unknowingly gifted me a book that largely contributed to my sexual wisdom. I wish he succeeds in practicing the art of lovemaking. I wish we all make love and let our bodies be open to give and receive pleasure. Irrespective of the surrounding hypocrisy, we have a choice and that rests with us. After all, we belong to the land of Khajuraho temples and Gita Govind and Sangam poetry and of course, the Kama Sutra. If we will not make love, who else will?
Arpit Chhikara wakes up every day to do something productive but ends up writing one crappy page of art to keep his writing muscles in shape. Having a life that is some parts boring and some parts interesting, he does storytelling and volunteering to make better use of his free time.