A young woman's quest for a sexual self.
‘Hello, mera naam Tina hai aur mein apne aap ko chhooti hu’.
Talking about my sexuality makes me feel as if I’m attending a weird version of my first AA meeting. Nervous and excited. But...as long as it’s out there…so, here goes!
My first encounter with explicit sex was through a dirty joke. My friend was giggling and whispering about some pencil and sharpener metaphor which I didn’t fully comprehend, but I laughed along with her anyway. That’s what you do when you’re 12 and want to show that you’re cool.
It was a gradual process for me – I happened to come across tiny descriptions of sex in fiction novels between the protagonists, then later in Mills and Boons (a handful), then full-fledged erotic romance/erotic novels and then…well, novels in which sex was the plot.
It was only after I turned 21 that I desired to masturbate (yes, I said it) and actively sought content to fuel my imagination. Before that, when I tried it a few times, it felt hurried and awkward. I was less informed (aka clueless fumbling) and not very motivated (aka lack of privacy).
I remember feeling short-changed after reading romance novels that didn’t have explicit descriptions of sex. I thought 'Man, that book sucked! Sam and Jane didn’t do it in the whole second half. What was THAT all about?'
I realized that I was kidding myself when I reasoned that I picked those books for their plot. I love to read. So, I decided to be honest with myself and made two mental categories during book selection – one for intellectual stimulation and the other for, well…self-stimulation (cue in erotica).
I quickly realized that pornography didn’t arouse me much (not that I didn’t try with it for a bit). It was too bland – not much depth and creativity in scenes (including revoltingly clichéd dialogues). And it seemed to be primarily for male titillation (Why is the dude always more eager to receive than minister?).
Then I discovered other things. Like, ever seen animated sex? Welcome to the world of hentai. Which is mostly, unfortunately, not female friendly (and Japanese). But, for my time and feelings, better than regular porn. Why? More build-up, more foreplay but mostly, more intensity. I realized I got that from erotic novels and began to explore them at length – and continue to do so. Different folks, different strokes, right?
Unlike pornography, erotic novels (the better ones) aren’t just about two people trying to get each other off. It’s descriptive, creative and reels you in. It has the ability to arouse you, make your body more sensitive and you may even find yourself floating through the stages of sex. ‘Increasingly hot and sweaty’ is always better than a typical ‘wham bam thank you ma’am!’
It made me realize that sex isn’t just a bedroom activity involving a man panting above a woman. It’s about people dissolving themselves in mutual pleasure and enjoying each other (and in turn, themselves) in an intimate way – in fact, a variety of intimate ways.
Initially, I was unsure about masturbation – or as they say, “indulging in masturbation.” Ever seen a kid push another down? As soon as he sees you looking, he becomes defensive and insists that he didn’t do it. Well, that was me – doing the deed and then going like ‘Hey, it wasn’t me!’
Except, I wasn’t doing anything wrong, no one was judging me and I was defending myself against – well, me! And that was absurd because I like me! Also, I noticed that the more uncertain I was, the less satisfactory the experience turned out to be.
Speaking of strokes, after overcoming the initial hesitations, sexual self-exploration was always a pleasurable experience. I realized how my body was capable of producing pleasure that was so fleeting yet so profound. Any remaining reservations I had about my actions dissolved after I experienced my first orgasm (hell yeah!).
Setting a rhythm and getting comfortable with a technique is the hard part. After that, it’s smooth sailing. Reading informative articles online helped in understanding genital anatomy, how and why certain methods worked for me and why others didn’t. Also, reading such articles made me more confident about what I was doing.
You can’t explore erotica and not come across taboo erotica (pseudo-incest, dubious consent, etc.), gay/lesbian/transgender erotica, BDSM, threesomes, orgies, etc. (yeah, there’s more). I remember the first time I read about a threesome and found it arousing. I was so appalled that I liked it.
Till then, the idea of sex, for me, was an intimate act between two people. I was afraid I was falling into the land of debauchery with no hope of coming out. It was a friend who put some perspective on that. She pointed out that it’s only a fantasy and that I was freaking out unnecessarily. It could also be looked at as not one but two men loving you…okay, I was down with that!
On a serious note, it made me question my preferences, what I liked and what was my limit. More importantly, I realized that any unconventional or scandalizing piece of literature was pleasurable for me not because of the act itself but the feelings it brought out in the protagonist (remember I mentioned intensity before?)
And if you’ve explored masturbation, it’s not long before you end up thinking about sex toys (oh c’mon, at this point, you would too!). I don’t know why but whenever I think of sex toys, the image of a blow up doll pops in my head (go figure). Anyway, sex toys are devices designed to arouse you.
The first time I fully understood the use of a dildo was through an erotic novel in which the couple explored light sexual domination and submission. After that, I learned about the variety of instruments designed for pleasure (and the extent of pleasure you wish to experience). Although I currently don’t own any, it’s something I would like experimenting with.
I was never shy about talking to my friends about sex. I found I was as knowledgeable or more so about that topic. But I was shy about exploring my own body. To the extent that lingerie shopping embarrassed me. Now, I enjoy picking out bras and wonder why I don’t have enough thongs. Somehow I feel sexier knowing what I’m wearing under my clothes.
And well, speaking of under the clothes, I got my first Brazilian wax done recently. Ever since I read about it, I’ve wanted to try it. Never been nude in front of anyone, always waxed myself at home and I went ahead and bared my crotch to a stranger. Yep, that’s me.
The experience was Bloody Painful and Super Thrilling. And totally worth it. And the rumors were true for me — I found it did give me a higher sense of pleasure during my ‘happy time’. Whether for real, or whether because it was such an anticipated thing in my head, it doesn't matter – I loved it!
I read a woman’s comment somewhere that she felt more confident being naked in front of her lover after getting a Brazilian wax. I completely understood what she meant.
I haven’t had sex yet and intend to do so only after marriage (gasp! I know!). It’s not because I come from a religious or conservative family (though I do). After a point, you realize that it’s your choice whether you want to continue following what’s taught to you, or not.
The thing is, I like my faith and its suggestions and guidelines for life and I’m comfortable with choosing to follow the suggestion of sex after marriage. Yep, it’s a choice I’ve made. But my choice of self-exploration makes me feel confident about my sexuality.
There are people I know who are having sex but that are either too preoccupied with the man’s response during sex or consider sex as just an act that needs to get done. In both cases, there is such a strong disconnect from your own body. This kind of hesitancy in your own sexuality makes you forget the important fact that it’s your body that makes you aware of how pleasurable the act is.
This is a different kind of freedom – to understand myself in this manner. I know that this kind of confidence will encourage sexual compatibility with my partner after marriage.
All the things I’ve tried so far, the extent of my exploration – has made me feel so good about myself and my body. And I think that’s what it means to be sexual – to realize what stimulates you mentally and see its connection to your body, to explore and enjoy your body in the most intimate way possible.
Rogue Hasina is 23, an avid reader (comics included), partial to music, movies and felines (in that order) and trying to strike a balance between ‘Masturbation? Oh no! I don’t even think about it’ and ‘Tentacle sex is my jam!’