Graphics by Debasmita Das
A note from us
Over the last few months, we’ve been discussing the violence that happens as sex, the violence that happens in sex. If we want to change the interactions inside sex, especially heterosexual sex, we believe we have to talk more about sex actually – not only the concepts around sex. We have to be able to say what works for us and what doesn’t and make that a normal part of the world. Diverse women’s diverse experience of sex and their diverse interpretations and responses of their sexual experience should inform discussions and understandings about sex.
This is why we started the campaign Sex Actually in collaboration with The Ladies Finger – to get that conversation started. We asked people to contribute a story about a sexual experience they couldn’t forget – awful or awesome or ho-hum – in this anonymous form.
This is the second edition of the stories that we received. Half the stories are here – half are here at The Ladies Finger. These stories are published under pseudonyms. We will publish more as they come (all puns are intended because like the clitoris they have no purpose except fun), as you send us more.
The Stories So Far
I froze when the shopkeeper asked me what size. How was I supposed to know my boyfriend’s condom size?
AGE THEN: 18
AGE NOW: 22
My first (and as of today, the only) boyfriend and I have been together for four years. And it has been a wild ride from confusion to contentment. Both of us had never had sex before we got together, and when the moment arrived one hot, sweaty February afternoon, as luck would have it, the only condom we had came out of a condom piñata at a birthday party. And it most certainly tore from our desire to try this thing called sex.
So we took a break and walked some distance to a medical shop where we stood about a 100 feet away from the shop, arguing about who should buy the condoms. It was very frustrating, we were very embarrassed and it did not help that we were standing in public giggling furiously and debating all at once. Eventually, I decided enough was enough, and marched up to the shop. And then stood there for ten more minutes to escape the crowd which had gathered. I managed to choke out the word “condom” at the shopkeeper, who proceeded to laugh and ask me what size.
I freaked out. What size? I didn’t know my boyfriend’s condom size. We hadn’t researched that much. The shopkeeper then said “Size, matlab three ka pack ya ten ka pack”. I almost fainted from relief, mumbled three (rookie mistake – never buy three the first time you’re having sex – you will ALWAYS make a mistake and waste at least one condom), grabbed the packet and ran back to my boyfriend as the shopkeeper laughed at me…
Only to run straight into three friends who then asked us what we were up to and commandeered us into a leisurely chat about ice cream as we stood fidgeting with the condom shoved down my barely-there women’s apparel standard size pant pocket. What I had imagined to be a private, romantic affair had turned into a series of unfortunate events and we hadn’t even started yet. Phew!
Finally, we managed to evade our friends and go back to the house to do the deed. It was hard (pun intended), messy, and slightly painful, and I didn’t orgasm but it was so much fun and I was entirely sure that if virginity weren’t a social construct, then this was perhaps the best way to get rid of mine. The act of sex was followed by a rude five minute long knock on the door, a serenade courtesy of my boyfriend’s roommate. With this interruption, two of us decided to follow our first time having sex by talking a dust-ridden walk to the nearest Subway for lunch and we walked silently, no words really necessary.
The poem I have written about this exact moment is titled “Alchemical Reaction” and it reminds me that every time I reminisce about the first time I had sex, the one thing I always remember most vividly, is how on the way to Subway, I tripped over a rock and let out all the air I had been holding since we had sex. I had been holding my breath because even though it had been crude and confusing and hella giggly, I had also done it with someone I genuinely liked, and would go on to love.
My boyfriend has since then created a wonderfully safe space for our relationship and sexual encounters. It’s been four years since we first had sex, and he still asks me for permission even to kiss me. He is so aware and conscious about how I am feeling, and even the slightest discomfort on my part means that HE WILL STOP. We didn’t have sex for the first three months of our relationship because we were too lazy to buy condoms, and because we didn’t have any, he never even bothered asked me to have sex with him. It was just that simple. And it still is. And sex always feels the same, alchemical – like breathing in air made up gold dust and pure sunlight.
I wondered why he was carrying on, when I had expressed so clearly with my body that I wanted to stop.
AGE THEN: 19
AGE NOW: 25
I was having sex with my boyfriend after a really long time. I was in college, he had moved away, and come back for the weekend just to meet with me. We checked in to a hotel (under his name, I snuck in later). We hadn’t seen each other in a long time, and had sex as soon as the hotel door closed.
We smoked some weed, and started to have sex a second time. But for some reason, the only image I could see in my head was of a comical pot-bellied frog-monster touching me instead of my boyfriend (don’t ask). I went completely dry, which was unusual, and which he immediately picked up on.
I wondered how he was feeling, how all this was affecting him. It was affecting him quite badly; he seemed panicked, and immediately started touching my body more forcefully in an attempt to get me more excited or into things. It didn’t work at all. I was trying to get into it and will my body into getting wet, and simultaneously picking up on his worried signals and worrying about those too. I don’t know why I didn’t just say that it all wasn’t working for me, and that we should just stop and try again later.
Instead, I eventually decided to lie completely still, naturally (to me) assuming that he would see my total lack of participation and movement as an obvious sign of my unwillingness to carry on.
Unfortunately, he seemed to take it as a sign to increase the force and velocity of whatever he was doing in an effort to make it feel good for me, which in that moment, I remember feeling quite taken aback by. Why was he carrying on having sex with me, when I had expressed so clearly, I thought, with my body and body language that I wanted to stop?
But I don’t think he thought of it like that. He genuinely thought that I wasn’t moving because I wasn’t being pleasured, or pleasured enough, and that the way to evoke that pleasure was to touch with more force and pressure. Uff.
I later spoke to a male friend who brought up the phenomenon of women going perfectly still during sex. He called it going “deadfish”, and said it was the worst thing that could happen to a man’s sexual confidence. He thought it happened because girls were feeling tired or awkward. I wanted to tell him that he didn’t know the half of it, that it was indeed a sign of feeling tired and awkward but so, so much more than just that.
When the next orgasm came, I could feel myself loosening up from within. It was as if I had been repressed all my life.
AGE THEN: 25
AGE NOW: 25
I knew it was going to happen a long time before it did. I just hadn’t zeroed in on when, but I think he had picked his opportunity well. He knew I would say yes, I thought I would not. He came prepared. We got talking, and a frisson of electricity crackled between us. I knew I had lost. But it felt like I won. I’d wanted him the minute I laid eyes on him that evening. At least he didn’t know that.
He wasted no time in grabbing my waist and pulling me into a kiss; it was so quick that it caught me off guard. His audacity shocked me. Within a few seconds though, I was moulding my body against his to return his kiss. He was eager to remove my clothes, I was equally eager to undress him. In a flurry of seconds, we were both naked and I was on top, never breaking our kiss for too long. We took turns taking charge, but suddenly he flipped me on my back, taking on the role of dominator. I trusted him completely, he made me feel safe. He smiled at me and put his fingers inside me. In just a matter of seconds, I had started moaning. The sensation of an unbridled orgasm was new.
He watched me with a hungry expression, intent on my pleasure, kissing me as if he needed it to live. I felt worshipped. I entered realms of pleasure I had only read about so far, it was the kind of sex I had only read about in those trashy books. It was overwhelming. Intense, yet fun. Passionate, yet gentle. It was the middle ground of middle grounds, but the best one of them. I was terrified it would be a letdown, as new sex can be. Jumping into bed without building intimacy is rarely a good idea, but this was intimate from the get-go. Lucky me.
My next orgasm came, and he kept kissing me, murmuring words of comfort. I could feel myself loosening up from within. It was as if I had been repressed all my life. My third orgasm came, and this time I saw genuine enjoyment on his face. Never before had a guy cared for my pleasure. By the end of this dreamlike night, my legs had turned to jelly. I was sore from all his ministrations.
I was all too aware that it may never happen again, too, but who cares? I had finally experienced the mythical multiple orgasms. It was amongst the best encounters of my life, and it forever changed my idea of sex. I no longer think that it is about control or letting go of control. It’s about relaxing into your partner, and learning to accept every bit of your wonderful self.
As I rode away, N texted, “I want to eat you now”. The addict was suddenly on full alert.
NAME: Iravati Kohli
AGE THEN: 28
AGE NOW: 28
4,366 miles away from everyone I knew and everything I held dear, I was dying. I had woken up, naked, with a desperate urge to pee, to discover that every joint in my body was being fed by a needle, which in turn were being fed by machines, beeping insidiously. The initial shock notwithstanding, I slowly nursed myself back from a life-threatening disease, gingerly stretching out my toes into the European autumn, as I started every day promising myself to take it easy.
My conversations with B had kept me going during my stay at the hospital. I remember telling her that I had a fresh perspective on life now, given that I almost died. I will never wear a bra again (I don’t). No one cares about my nipples showing. I remember her going LOOOOL at that, adding, “Dude, imagine the amount of D you’ll get, now that you’re willing to let go of some of your inhibitions!”
I left the hospital with an utter disdain for bras, and something else. Sex addiction.
Initially, rehab consisted of eating right, sleeping enough, obsessively carrying water and munchies everywhere I went, looking up phone numbers of the closest hospital every time I so much as sneezed. I did not even notice the amount of time I was spending on Tinder, swiping away, telling myself, “yes this is life, this is you living life.” It was not until I had met three different men on two consecutive nights that I realised something was up. This exhausted clusterfuck was not exactly my usual dating scene. Panic set in as first response.
Thankfully (or maybe not), I had had significant experience with mental health issues. Having waded through clinical depression, acute body image issues-related eating disorder and general anxiety, I immediately called for help. Dr. Decker, ageing and kindly, also frustratingly twinkly, was amused at my self-diagnosis. I patientsplained to him that I was severely disappointed with myself because I fell ill, proving years of suspicion amongst my family that I was utterly incapable of taking care of myself. So far away from my support systems, I was susceptible to constant loneliness, and in my search for validation, I had stumbled upon Tinder and the easy-breezy availability of the momentary but intense attention that sex allowed. Dr. Decker, green eyes twinkling, gently agreed to the fact that I did have a propensity for addictive behaviours, however, I should not go so far as to call myself a sex addict yet. Like a spoilt first-worlder, I asked for medication – at least “relaxants”! – and vented to B.
I met C the night B left Europe. She had flown down from New York, just to check if I was really alive, I suspect. We had spent five days doing all kinds of shady shit, calling each other “queen” and marvelling at banal things such as “Woah look at us drinking Prosecco and stuff, who will say we used to bum cigarettes at North-East Dhaba”. It was glorious. The night she left, I came back to my apartment and the loneliness just crawled all over me like a swarm of spiders.
By the time C had agreed to come over, I had already ordered him to get ice-cream, coke and something salty, like chips. He arrived with a half-finished bottle of cola, a hit of cocaine and a bagful of dildos. I was so disappointed in myself, and frankly I just wanted him to leave and have a cry on the phone with B. But then, I started talking to him, finding it surprisingly easy to open up to this strange dude with lovely hair and huge hands. His willingness to spend time giving me head, and actually letting me talk through it, was disarmingly nice. I don’t remember getting so much head, ever. And I had dated women.
Over the next weeks, I would constantly be surprised by his willingness to meet me, to have intense sex through the night, sleep over till 5 pm in my house and be kicked out, only to be back around midnight. I treated it like an enjoyable vacation – he was adorable, he actually liked my sarcasm and general bitchy countenance, he rolled me cigarettes, and he listened in rapt attention to my lectures on how liberal politics was going to be the end of the world as we knew it.
That one time, I taught him Nancy Fraser while he went down on me, and every time I would lose control of my speech, he would kiss me down there and gently rumble against my pussy – “go on”. It was not until I went over to his house for the first time, and ended up staying there for what seemed like a week, that I realised this was going to get complicated. In a sexed-out state of bliss I had asked him, “You are so lovely, can I keep you?”, only to be presented with this gem – “Yes, for a while”. I most certainly did not expect the small but significant heartbreak I experienced at that. I kept up a running commentary with B, and she was very concerned that I seemed to be on tenterhooks about this absolutely random man I had picked up out of the blue. “Just chill dude, he’s a fuckboi, we’re meeting in Cal in like a week, we’ll sort it out.”
The short trip back home had already turned into a nightmare, what with my university basically telling me to fuck off, don’t come back pliss, we don’t have time for you. Delhi had given me a terrible cough, which Cal garnished with an epic nose-block.
I met B in Park Street and she witnessed my C-obsession first hand, dispensing sage advice. “Dude, he only calls you for sex, matlab he is fuckboi only, na? Tum apne pe dhyaan do behen, white boys can be damn haanikarak.” We went to Sephora and put provocatively glittery lipstick and shitloads of makeup for free. And then we ate rubbish food off the roadside and had bhnaarer cha by the gallon.
Bombay was going to be nice and warm, a tiny little holiday I was really looking forward to. Touchdown at Chhatrapati Shivaji, and my phone basically exploded with surprisingly eligible young men and women on Tinder, all extremely charming, annoyingly woke and feminist and willing to get interested. The addictive streak was completely eclipsing the fact that I was here to meet my baby nephew and my sister.
I shouted out at B, “DUDE BOMBAY GIRLS ARE HOTTTT”, and she obliged with a plethora of the peach emoji. I spent the first night feeling adored by a handful of ally-types, really driving their woke bae-ness home, till I basically snapped and gave it to one of them. That was N. I silkenly accused him of everything between mansplaining and using allyship for sexual purchase, and at the end of this ritual humiliation, asked him out for a beer.
I arrived at the burger joint he had suggested horrifyingly late the next evening, my last night in Bombay, and was surprised to find him still waiting. We never got a place there, and moved swiftly to some pub next door. The conversation seemed to go on for hours, and when we left the pub, I just kept walking, and he fell into step next to me. We walked down a deserted road in Andheri, tiring out our vocal chords, electrified by our sexual arousal, frustrated at our inability to address this properly.
I decided to take an auto home – I was not going to waste more time trying to keep my arousal at bay when he was so restrained that he almost seemed uninterested. As I dropped him home in the auto, I asked if he would like to be kissed, and witnessed him crumble, shakily wailing “Yes, please”. The first kiss, supposed to be the last, as I was heading home and heading back to Delhi in three hours, felt sadly like a gift – me giving something out of pure kindness, after a long day of repressing our feelings.
As I rode away, N texted, “I want to eat you now”. The addict was suddenly on full alert. I bullied him into taking me to the airport, offering to give him a blowjob in the cab, which he graciously refused. We kissed, channeling our frustration at this ever so short encounter into each of our kisses. It was hot. He kissed my neck, my ears, my shoulders, and I caught fire. I had forgotten that Indian airports did not let visitors inside without a ticket, and my plans of having sex with N in the airport loo had to be changed to having an incredibly intense conversation about his family over coffee before my flight. I typed out my hourly update to B, receiving the most “queen” response ever – “Dude, enjoy it while he is still calling you hot and shit, cuz this ain’t nothing serious. Hope you had sex.”
J called himself a “Dallu”, a Mallu born and brought up in Delhi, woefully lacking in the famed Mallu male appeal. He was hot. That was the only assessment I had of him. By this time in my India trip I had been so thoroughly mindfucked by family crisis, unsure professional future, physical illness (I was still struggling with keeping my immunity up), managing my sex addiction, impending deadlines, missed deadlines, and C and N, I was fully booked up in the emotions department. J was breezy, younger, terrified of me, and eager to please. He was also hopelessly Delhi, trying to pay for dinner and drinks as if it would somehow help his cause.
Acting out a massive cliché, he took me to Mahabelly, a Malabar restaurant in a South Delhi mall, where apparently the rest of his church had also come for dinner. Between stuffing our faces with erachi and avoiding detection by the entire Malayali-Christian community in Delhi, J stared at me hotly for long and torturous moments. Usually silent, and pretty much in awe of my loud and seemingly confident persona, J surprised me by sharing his dreams and details of his life which felt very intimate. He wanted to open up a restaurant in Kochi at 35, just like a dozen other Mallu men I have met, and had unbelievably difficult daddy issues.
In a weird daze, still humming Karukara from Mahabelly’s self-consciously Keralite soundtrack, we dragged each other into a park of Eucalyptus trees and dry-humped till my pants almost came off by themselves. That’s when he broke off – “This seems…indecent.” I gave his head a condescending rub, asked him to pray before he slept and go to confession the next day, and zipped up my jeans. Three hours later, I was on a flight back to Europe.
The first day back in my own apartment, shielding myself from the punishing winter, I slept for what seemed like a year. I suppose this was my body’s way of dealing with my overwhelmed mind. I scheduled an appointment with Dr. Decker later in the week. I tried to piece together the things I did on my trip back, the people I actually met, the conversations which were worth remembering. My mother, my dad, sister, nephew, my aunt sick with cancer, my old grandmother. My ex. BA debrief.
C had messaged as soon as I had landed, telling me he had missed me. I lied to him – “I missed you too!” We were going to meet soon, and I wanted to avoid having a conversation about the hickeys on my neck. Waking up from a disturbed sleep, groggy, unsure of the time or the continent, I gossiped with B hard about some misogynist bastard Leftist dudebro who wasn’t letting his super awesome wife take a prestigious job because it would hurt his fragile ego. I told her, “I think I’ve had enough of Mallu boys for a while”, and then we jointly drooled over the owner of Mahabelly, and then the owner of Gunpowder, Mahabelly’s precursor in erachi-starved Delhi.
“So then, your ideal life would be on a beach, with a hot Mallu man cooking for you and rolling joints for you and having sex with you through the day.”
“Yes, please. Hubba hubba. Or…or with you, somewhere.”
“You are my longest-term relationship, B. You know that.”
“Yeah, we should really take our ‘homestay in Santorini’ idea seriously.”
“Yeah dude. And you know what? Fuck this shit. I won’t fucking care about all this C and N and J and shit. What’s the point? I know I’m supplanting some epic hole in my life with this stuff. None of them seem to be into me in any case. I am hardly at an age when I need to have self-confidence issues afresh! I mean, I just miss you man.”
“Love you, dude. I miss you. And shut up, you’re like damn hot. Hope we end up in the same city. Also, I’m looking for cheap tickets AS WE SPEAK. SUMMER’S GONNA BE EPIC, MOTHERFUCKER!”
I’m still dealing with the sex addiction. C, N and J message, occasionally, sharing some banal shit that have no consequences for my day. I cheerlead B through mental health emergencies. She returns the favour. I’ll head to NYC in the summer, and we plan to go Tindering together, which should be fun, but also humbling. B’s super fucking hot. But we’ll cross that mental health bridge if and when we get there. For now, I’m not looking for any more letters of the alphabet.
He begged and pleaded until I decided I really didn’t care anymore.
AGE THEN: 26
AGE NOW: 28
I met this boy off Tinder, and contrary to how you expect these things to unfold, he invited me over to his friend’s place for a drink. His friend (and her partner) turned out to be really interesting people, and I remember discussing movies, books and architecture with them while Tinder boy nursed a fever and a glass of brandy. He didn’t talk much.
At some point I realised how late it actually was, and how drunk we all were. I was new to the city and bunking with a friend then, so couldn’t really head back at that point, and ended up going to the boy’s place with completely ambivalent feelings about him. Then we spoke some more, and he kissed me, and things escalated as things do with enthusiasm from both of us, only when push came to push he confessed he didn’t have a condom on him. I promptly clothed myself and suggested we do something else, except as the night wore on he teased and begged and pleaded and wore my defences down, till there came a moment I decided I didn’t really care anymore and gave in.
We were two virgins figuring it all out together.
AGE THEN: 18
AGE NOW: 20
This is the story of the first time I got laid. It was a long time coming (pun intended) and with a guy I absolutely adore.
There has always been a dichotomy in how I’ve felt about sex and how I expressed it. When I was in school, I had the image of the typical good girl and felt pressed to maintain it. But I remember that there never were any honest conversations about sex in my peer group. One time the resident mean girls asked me if I had ever seen porn. I answered, “Me, no!” with the most profound look of disgust I could muster. That was a lie.
In college there was a freer environment but one that was often dominated by men making crude jokes about sex (and the cool girls gently chuckling along). When I started dating this guy, I found that I was definitely more into the sex bit of it than him. I was kinkier in the confines of my mind than he had ever been. But for the first time, I felt myself being whole. I didn’t have to separate the bright happy Powerpuff Girl part of me from the one that loved sex and existed as an underground alter-ego. I was whole.
We went to his house where we kissed the only way we knew how. He would later ask me if he was a good kisser. I’d say, sure, but I don’t have any other standard for comparison. We were two virgins figuring it out for the first time, but I have never felt so comfortable doing something like that.
He was gentle and considerate throughout, something that I hadn’t believed possible in all my trips through the porn on the Internet. We had to figure out the condom bit and believe me, it can be tricky when your head is that full of chemicals. We took part in the motions of sex though we didn’t have enough experience to actually be good at it. We loved everything that led up to it and laughed through the experience. When I was attempting to give him a blow job, he caressed my face. It was comically tender. It wasn’t the mechanical thrusting of a man pushing his dick into a woman’s mouth. It was to see if I was comfortable and I really was. We lay together for some time after and I remember feeling that I could lay like that forever. I don’t think I could have asked for a better first time.
I think about the green chilli incident whenever I see a perfect sex scene in a movie, because I know sex in real life can be funny.
AGE THEN: 26
AGE NOW: 31
This was shortly after I got married and my husband and I moved in together. We had very different work timings and I usually got home just around dinner time, he had a few hours free before and after dinner but worked late at night. One day I came back home to find that he had made some spicy curry and rice and we ate it with great enthu. Since he had no client meetings later that night, we decided that it was time for some romance. Fortunately and unfortunately, he likes to bring me to an orgasm first using his hands. As he started doing this, my “nether regions” started to burn. I ran out yelling and dumped a lot of water on myself. Then we realized that in an effort to be efficient and organised my husband had cut up a whole bunch of green chilies to freeze that evening. Washing his hands twice with soap had not been sufficient to prevent my burning loins situation.
I think about this whenever I see a perfect sex scene in a movie because I know that sex in real life is often funner and funnier than what we see in reel.
The next time we had sex, my knees were all messed up. I guess it was only fair.
AGE THEN: 21
AGE NOW: 22
In July last year, I was in London for a summer school. I was hanging out with this dude I had hooked up with a few times, a year previously when he was visiting Kolkata. He was taking me to his place in Kent, and I started getting frisky with him in the car itself. He stopped the car in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was completely dark. I thought we had reached his place. But he couldn’t wait. He led me into the forest and lay me down on the (very wet!) ground. There, we fucked. It was funny. I couldn’t stop laughing because I was on a wet icky forest ground with who-knows-what creatures under me, and I could see the moon through tall trees. Bet it messed up his knees. But the last time we met, I had fucked him on top of a stone water tank on my friend’s terrace and that had screwed up my knees for a good few days. I guess it was only fair.
Read more accounts on The Ladies Finger.