Katrina Kaif didn’t mind pulling in Hrithik Roshan for a passionate kiss in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara when he was least expecting it. Radhika Apte loved enticing all her lovers to the last bit in the modern telling of Ahalya, and Rosalyn D’Mello in her erotic memoir, A Handbook for My Lover, writes unabashedly about a woman’s role in claiming her man’s passion through all forms of expression. These women represent a new league of ladies who are fearless, forthcoming, fiery and fabulous when it comes to wooing their partners. In fact, almost half the population of urban couples believes women are now equals when it comes to making the first move in bed. In a Bonobology survey conducted across urban adults in India, 49% of the participants said that initiating lovemaking is no more a man thing; men and women in relationships do it alike. A lesser 45% still believed that the traditional man-woos-woman game pervades largely, while 6% held women on top when it comes to setting the mood for sex. In any case, the top figure arrives as a game changer for everything we earlier thought true about the mating game.
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While respondents who were quizzed over the subject said that there was no hard and fast rule per se, women taking the lead has come as a surprise for many. ‘Women often initiate lovemaking even though they’d like their male partner to,’ said one of the participants. ‘Of course, this should be an equal affair but men often don’t initiate lovemaking for the fear of being tagged as ‘sexists’, and so they wait for the woman to take the lead,’ felt another respondent. Others revealed that women get more comfortable with making the first move as time progresses…‘things may have changed as I understood her better over the years,’ read one of the comments. Whatever the reason, men absolutely dig it when their girl gets the action going. ‘I can’t generalize, but I love it when she takes the initiative!’ said a happy participant.
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What happens in the bedroom, of course, is a window to what’s happening in the larger society—power dynamics are changing. Just as it is no more the man who is calling the shots in the boardroom or community affairs, it is no more the woman who waits in the hope of pleasure. If gratification be the game, she is today an active player instead of its passive consumer, and one who is aiming to win. ‘It is silly to just sit there and give out subtle signals or taunt if you really want to turn on the heat—men are poor at intuitive intelligence, so I wouldn’t hesitate giving him a little tease or even putting up a True Lies performance if that’s what it takes—you know how things can fizzle out otherwise, especially in a marriage of many years,’ says Samhati, who says this is nothing ‘bold’ but normal. ‘Men, too, get tired of looking like the only ones who want love.’
But there’s a lot more to this phenomenon than meets the eye. “I would say who takes the active role depends on many factors. When couples come to me with problems like infrequent and mechanical sex,ora dysfunctional sexual relationship, I ask them who initiates sexual activity. Most often, women want men to initiate not because they are less sexual or shy, but because they want to be recognized and appreciated for who they are, not as sexual objects but as personalities with a heart and mind. Women are more assertive than what we would think them to be. They want to be seen as an equal, they want to connect more than just copulate. On the other hand, a man’s tendency is that he is stressed and preoccupied, and these reasons put him off sexual activity through connection. So, when a woman asserts, he sees it as her asking for sex. He checks himself and feels somewhat ill-prepared, so often says he is tired or the like. In reality, he does not know how to connect, whereas the woman thinks she is being rejected, and ends up feeling less sexually adequate. This often leads to direct confrontation in some cases. When men avoid sex, women initiate it more. There is even an amount of aggression in this initiation that men do not like. In a congenial relationship where man and woman are equal, however, a woman sometimes initiates more often than man because she knows that her moves and feelings will be well reciprocated. She feels well understood. It is, after all, a question of how welcome one feels,” explains Bangalore-based psychotherapist and sexologist Dr Vinod Chebbi.