According to Jared Diamond, author of Why is Sex Fun? our sexuality, while seen as normal by us, can seem bizarre when compared to most other species out there. We humans have sex in private, on any day of the month or year, including when the female is pregnant, beyond her reproductive years, or between her fertile cycles. We use sex to develop intimacy and bonding, and most importantly, we have sex for recreation and fun. We are creatively, incorrigibly, constantly and unashamedly sexual, and our strange sex lives were as crucial to our rise to human status as were our large brains.
From ancient India to medieval, from books to songs, from paintings to idols, to folklore and dance, from the domestic to the sacred, our temples, our texts, written and oral, our music and our performing arts bear testimony to the high status the erotic enjoyed all through the centuries. We have consistently celebrated the beauty of the human body and the pleasure it is capable of. We are the land of the Kamasutra!
But somewhere along the way, (Mughal invasion, Victorian puritanism), sex became wrong. From celebrating the erotic, we turned into a culture of silence and taboos. What was once regarded as beautiful and auspicious enough to be carved on temple walls became something that should be hidden and not spoken about. What was once an open attitude turned into ignorance and embarrassment. It became about ‘duty’ and procreation, devoid of words like pleasure and intimacy.
And then the rise of romantic love once more led to the sexualisation of love. Marital passion became important as never before. Sex in marriage turned into its great ‘fix’. And sex became demanding, with its new goals of intimacy, recreation and pleasure. It now had to be ‘great’ to be good.
Though sex is an intensely private act, its norms are firmly entrenched via various media. There is no ideal level of sexual activity; it varies from people to settings, to cultural and social mores to fitness levels, etc., yet we are constantly bombarded with the numbers game, how much is normal within the first few years, how much later; we are told what is normal, we believe male libido is more than the female’s. It is a well-known and experienced fact that desire wanes as marriage matures, yet we are sold the idea of ‘unending desire’. Benedetto Croce (Italian philosopher) said that marriage is ‘the grave of savage love’, yet we blame our partners for this very natural decline, or worse, ourselves. We live in a web of contradictions, confusion and discontent; the sex survey we conducted via SurveyMonkey brought forth some interesting data.
Did you know that 53% of couples either think that their spouses are unhappy with their sex lives, or worse, don’t know how they feel; but when we asked if they have ever visited a counsellor when they had issues in their sex life, 93% answered in the negative?
Did you know that 43% think that a marriage can be happy without sex and just love (companionate)? Yet when we asked how important was it them for their partner to be faithful, an overwhelming 86% said, ‘important’.
Did you know that close to 70% said that if the women initiate sex, the men enjoy it more, yet only 5% women actually initiate it?
When we asked whether they guide their partners in sex to increase pleasure, the ‘yes’ was a mere 39%. And an interesting answer to the question, ‘Have you ever had an extramarital relationship?’ was, ‘even the slightest association with other men makes me happier’. This brought us to deeper questions; is it true that women are better suited for monogamy then men? Also, is it true that male libido is stronger than that of the fairer sex? And if it isn’t, why are the ladies in burqas, why are they ‘kept’ behind closed doors?
The marriage bed, behind the closed door, harbours not only conflicting
desires and confusion and silences, but also deceit and hypocrisy.
On the question of whether they fake orgasm, 27% applied in the affirmative.
Some wrote to us thanking us, saying that doing the survey made them reflect and speak more openly of this aspect with their partners, while others confessed how shocked they were at their own answers and the seething disconnect and discontent that were revealed. In some essential way I did get the sense that the marriage bed is in some way like the self, sacrificed, neglected and unimportant, while we are busy taking care of the more important business of living!
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