“‘I hereby withdraw my consent,’ I said laughingly, hoping that it would lighten the situation and get me out of having to do it”Nancy (25 then, 28 now)I had two serious relationships in college, and somehow they were both with feminists. Both my boyfriends happened to be loving, respectful partners who listened. So naturally, I graduated believing that all relationships functioned on the concept of consent. And then I embarked upon my first casual relationship.He was an old college friend, a few years older than me. We were good friends for a while, and then he started to pursue me relentlessly. My initial polite rejections gave way to point-blank refusals, which led to him dropping all contact with me for a few months, after which he apologised profusely. He said he wanted to be friends, so I invited him over. He volunteered to make dinner and explained in great detail how to make a spaghetti aglio e olio, something I could whip up in my sleep. Nevertheless, I smiled graciously and told him I was impressed with his cooking skills.We decided to watch a movie afterwards. Barely two minutes into Star Wars: A New Hope, he turned and kissed me. I was surprised, but I thought to myself, well, you’re bored, and it’s dark, you don’t have to look at him. And he’s not even a bad kisser. So I went with it. It was a less-than-satisfying experience, but how did it matter? So I put the laptop away. We tried to have sex, but apparently the condom was getting in the way, so how about trying it without “that encumbrance”? I refused, but he insisted, “Come on, just a little bit,” and tried to thrust himself in without waiting for a reply. I quickly shifted my position and said, “Sorry, I just don’t think it’s going to happen tonight.”“Alright, but promise me I’ll be your first.”“You know I can’t make-”“Promise me it’ll be me and no one else.”“But I don’t-”“No, just me.”“Umm no, not making any promises.”I felt rather empowered in that moment. We continued with our arrangement for a couple of weeks. He threw several adjectives my way to compliment virtually every part of my body, and the best I could come up with for him was “I like your arms. You have strong arms.” He loved hearing that. He also loved it when I went down – sometimes he would even ask for “one for the road” – but rarely bothered to reciprocate.One day, he asked me, “So, how about swallowing?”“Umm, no, I’m not really into that,” I replied.“Yeah, I understand.”Twenty minutes later, when I was just about to resurface, he held my head down and I was forced to take in a mouthful. Strong arms. I managed to shove his hand away and get up, though. I felt sick and revolted, but 10 minutes later I found myself telling myself that he was just caught up in the moment. So I went to bed next to him, woke up the next morning and saw him off.The next time he wanted me to do that job that he enjoyed so much, we were in his car, in a public place. I said I wasn’t comfortable with the idea. “I hereby withdraw my consent,” I said laughingly, hoping that it would lighten the situation and get me out of having to do it. “Oh come on, just go down quickly,” and with that, I felt my face being thrust towards his lap, with no warning as always. However, this time, I wasn’t going to give in. I sat up. “There are people around, this isn’t going to work. Why don’t we just drive around and chat for a bit?” I asked him.“Nah, it’s late, I have to get home,” was the frosty response I got. So he dropped me home, leaving me with the realisation as I watched the red Civic zoom away, that I was done. This ship had sailed.But he still called me one last time, a week later.“I can’t stop thinking about your legs.”“Please stop, I’m done with this. I’m not doing this anymore.”“Oh, but why?”“Because I don’t want to.”“But why?”“Because I say so. I don’t want to have anything to do with you again.”“Oh. I see. Okay.”“Good, so take care and—““Can I have a last picture of those legs?” “I begged and screamed at him to stop lest I died of pleasure and when he did I screamed at him again to keep going”Maya (24 then, 24 now)I met this guy about a decade back. I had a major crush on him in high school and he had always been majorly out of reach as he had a girlfriend back then. Anyway, we were good friends and we lost touch as time went on. Oh, and he knew I liked him.Fast forward to last year, when we met again, he has become hotter than he was back then. We reconnected, I felt he was flirting with me a great deal, and so I walked up to him and told him that I wanted to fuck him real bad. He obliged within a few days, but I did not cum that night, possibly because I was too tensed up or something.A few days back I spent another night with him and this time, my god this time I came. Again, and again, all night, as he hungrily looked at my face while I was cumming, holding me tight, and occasionally devouring my mouth. I did not know my body could handle this much pleasure, my legs turned to jelly. Honestly I didn't even know the female body was capable of experiencing that many orgasms one after the other. I begged and screamed at him to stop lest I died of pleasure and when he did I screamed at him again to keep going.I went back home with a bruised elbow and knee and a sore clit and have since been thinking about the night non-stop and this man who I've known since childhood who was naked in my arms making me cum again and again in a city far away from where we met for the first time. “I felt a need for change. I fantasised about having sex with some other unfamiliar body that would wrap me in ecstasy”Ginger (35 then, 42 now)Being a married woman with two children, sex after 15 years of marriage had become a monotonous activity. However innovative we were in trying out positions, I felt a need for change. I fantasised about having sex with some other unfamiliar body that would wrap me in ecstasy and leave an aroma on my body that I am not used to.Though I had no particular person in mind, the desire to act upon my fantasy was so compelling that I started to look around for opportunities. When I moved to my new neighborhood in a hill station, I luckily landed up staying next to a charming man who seemed to show interest, or I imagined so. Anyway without much waiting, I dared to flirt with him and in no time my inappropriate feelings were reciprocated.With chats going to and fro and our frequent stolen kisses on and off, we were desperately ready to take it further. Just that we did not have a place, as he was also married. We could not risk finding a room at a hotel as he knew most people in the town.But as luck would have it, we found a divine abode, literally. A cozy place up in one of the hills with a leveled area just enough to become a bed next to a very small temple. The temple had no visitors but us.The whole routine to end up at our ‘sex abode’ was exciting. We would ride our respective bikes and I would carry a blanket to spread at the place and then our bodies found a new meaning for our existence. His kinky ideas and my enthusiasm to comply found no bounds. He awakened my sexual demons and took me to a world of paradise. My body danced with pleasure at ease with intense intimacy making me forget the world around me. I adored every part of his body and his dick was one of the most gorgeous things I have ever seen. The shape, size, colour, texture were perfect to me and so aesthetically beautiful that I had wanted to make a painting of it. I loved blowing his hard on and sucking it dry. I almost seemed to have a slight obsession and a parallel relationship with his gorgeous dick.Making out under the open sky on the cold days and evenings was so surreal. The smell of the trees around, the strange sounds of insects, the dim lights from far away, the chill, making us move closer and his nakedness engulfing me wholly was more than I had asked for. We had spent many such evenings with each other and each time my body felt more alive.One of my most treasured memories from this unison was when he was inside me gently pushing and pulling himself like in a rhythmic waltz and as I lay underneath him, submerged with his skin and sweat while pushing my hips in tune with my insatiable greed, I was watching the full moon surrounded by the crystals of stars in the pitch dark sky and wondered if the time could freeze here, right at that moment. “When you lose your senses and you cannot even form a thought about how much you're enjoying yourself, it is time well spent”Miss J (21 then, 23 now)It was the first time I had sex and technically I wasn't a virgin because of a stupid vaginal tablet I had used for a yeast infection, which did the job of tearing off the hymen.I had known this guy through OkCupid, we had our first date at a literary fest, we made out and met a couple more times. The much-coveted space of Lodi Gardens was our haven. I was eagerly awaiting the sex and well, the day came when we did it. As soon as he penetrated me, I was screaming with pain. I had never in my life felt this much pain and tight at the same time. And he comforted me throughout, he didn't move so that I could get used to the girth. In the end, after screaming "Fuck, pull it out, I can't," we ended it. But I didn't want this is to be the memory of my first time. So we made out and I got wet really soon. He asked me if we should try again and I said yes instantly. This time, the pain had subsided, and my oh my, did I love 'feeling full'. As soon as he started moving, I felt euphoric. There are no words for that feeling. The constant movement, and him kissing my neck, it was just fucking amazing. We had sex plenty of times after that, but this moment always stays in my mind. When you lose your senses and you cannot even form a thought about how much you're enjoying yourself, it is time well spent. “I still think about the sex sometimes and I find myself missing the feeling of being held against his body as we fell asleep”Jay (29 then, 40 now)We were casually dating although we lived in different cities. I would travel over the weekends to see him. He wasn’t the first one and he certainly isn’t the last but he made me squirt like a fountain! His unbridled passion and his quest to please were second to none. We would spend hours in bed exploring. Over a period of time, as we got more comfortable with each other, the sex got better and kinkier. Aside from the beyond awesome sex, he was generally an arsehole and there was too much casual sexism, casteism and ableism to make it work and eventually we parted ways. I still think about the sex sometimes and I find myself missing the feeling of being held against his body as we fell asleep, bodies languid and limbs intertwined after very satisfying sex. “I think I was always worried that I would be judged if I didn't go with the flow”Oppo (30 then, 31 now)I was visiting my then friend, who is now my partner, in the USA. He wanted to cuddle and I agreed. I was jetlagged and had difficulty sleeping the first night. So I was tossing around on the bed while his arms were wrapped around me. We were attracted to each other and the next thing I know, we started to caress each other.While we were making out, I ASKED, "can we not have sex please?" What I wanted to SAY was "I will not have sex." I remember the shocked expression on his face. He paused, and gave me a lecture on consent before continuing what we were doing.While I understand consent, somehow it didn't translate into action. My limited physical intimacy with people didn't help either. In hindsight, I think I was always worried that I would be judged if I didn't go with the flow. Even though I consider myself a feminist, it's surprising how in my head some of the beliefs never translated into actionable thoughts.
Sex Actually: Ecstasy, Anxiety and the Fear of Being Judged
Sex, as it actually is.