First, a quick experiment. Hold up five fingers.
- Put a finger down if you actively avoid saying “sex” around your parents.
- Put a finger down if you change the channel or fast forward when there is a sex scene in a movie you are watching with your family.
- Put a finger down if your parents refuse to talk to you about sex, but regularly tell you how much they cannot wait for you to give them grandchildren.
- Put a finger down if your parents never gave you “the talk.”
- Finally, put a finger down if your parents have never told you (or even mentioned) what an orgasm is.
How many fingers do you still have up?
…yeah, we thought so.
Sex is just NOT something we generally talk about – we all know it’s one of the most taboo and stigmatised conversations to have and is only ever talked about in vague terms as the thing that comes before pregnancy. Whether you’re 29 and having regular sex, or 39 and have never had sex before, creating a space to ask questions and navigate experiences can help us all stay safe and informed.
So, let’s talk about sex, baby.
1. Sex isn’t just about producing babies – it’s for pleasure too. Don’t lose sight of this.
Just because we’ve been brought up with a narrative that places emphasis on the reproductive role of women doesn’t mean we can’t see it as a pleasurable experience. Having children is a step that you may choose to take at some point in your life, but it probably isn’t the primary reason you are engaging in sex.
2. 80% of women cannot orgasm through penetration alone…
The orgasm gap is REAL people. Porn and the media in general have created the unrealistic and heteronormative idea that women orgasm intensely from penetration alone. Instead of relying on the internet to further deepen your worries about not being able to orgasm, let’s get talking! Women orgasm in so many different ways, and you may not even know of the different ways you can orgasm until you talk about it with people around you.
Also PSA: you don’t owe your partner the satisfaction of thinking they actually got you there, so you really don’t need to be faking it. That achieves nothing for either of you.
3. For all the brown girls out there – literally EVERYONE has ingrown hairs on their upper inner thighs, don’t worry.
Spoiler alert – those clean bikini shaves you see in ads are either Photoshopped or done by a magical wizard. As desi women, it is so common for us to have insecurities about our bodies and the way we look. Sometimes these insecurities overtake us when we are having sex and cause us to lose the orgasm our partner has been trying to build for the last twenty minutes (oops). Talking about your insecurities with your circle – whether that’s how much hair you have on your body, the ingrown hairs on your inner thighs and armpits, or the stretchmarks on your behind – can relieve the pressure and fears and make you feel less alone & help you to relax.
4. Blue Waffle may not be real, but other STDs are.
Regardless of which country you were educated in, it is unlikely that you had a sex education that was much better than that scene in Mean Girls. If you or your partner have had multiple sexual partners, you should be getting tested regularly for STDs. Though the majority of them can now be medically treated, getting an STD can be a painful experience. The sooner you and your partner can open with each other about your sexual histories, the sooner you can get tested and take steps as necessary to keep each other safe. STDs can be transmitted through any kind of sexual activity, not just intercourse, so it is incredibly important to be honest with your partner and to encourage them to be honest with you.
5. Talking about your experiences can help you gain more perspective & ensure your safety.
Just like with pretty much anything else, when we talk to other people about our experiences, their reactions can help us to process and understand our own reality. When you have a safe and non-judgemental space to talk about sex, you may learn the reality of the nature of your own sexual relationship. Sometimes, you may not see the signs of a sexually abusive or emotionally abusive relationship, so discussing some of these personal matters with close friends may help you identify if you may not be in the best situation.
Having people to talk to about sex in your friends group also creates the space for everyone to voice concerns if they are feeling uncomfortable. And pleaseee – no judgement zones here; we won’t want to be turning into some of the aunties that we despise ourselves.
6. Rihanna might’ve been onto something…
If talking about sex is a taboo for South Asians, there is NO WAY you’re going to get much information about BDSM or kinks. But guess what, chains and whips may actually excite you and your partner, and by opening up the conversation, you can also begin to explore your own sexual preferences. Having an open dialogue about pleasure with your partner is important to allow you to explore other avenues of sexual pleasure other than ‘regular’ sex. You should talk about past experiences and/or explore resources together in order to make your sexual journey as a couple as exciting and fulfilling for both of you as possible, and remember to be safe!
7. Maybe you were more attracted to Anjali than to Rahul.
An obvious consequence from situating sex as a mechanism for reproduction is that sex is framed solely as a heterosexual activity. South Asian women don’t really get a lot of room to explore our sexuality when society is constantly enforcing heteronormative expectations of motherhood upon us. Creating a space to talk about sex can also create the space to be open about sexual preferences. Maybe you end up realising that you aren’t as excited about your boyfriend/heterosexual experiences as your friends are. Whilst it could be that you just aren’t attracted to that specific individual, having a safe space to navigate your intimate experiences can allow you to be more introspective about your sexuality and who you are really attracted to.
8. At the end of the day, the conversations around sex should be FUN.
Talking about sex doesn’t need to be stressful, regardless of what level of sexual activity you or your friends are at. Discussing what you enjoy, how often you have sex, where you have sex, and who you’re having sex with can be light-hearted conversations that actually deepen your friendships and relationships with those around you. It formulates a level of trust between you and your friends and establishes a communication pathway that you can go back to in case you need to voice any worries.
So, if you aren’t already, the next time you speak to your friends, crack open a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine and get talking about sex. You have nothing to lose.
This post was written in collaboration with Pardesi – a global platform that empowers, celebrates and amplifies the voices of South Asian women worldwide through powerful storytelling, community building and authentic journalism. Pardesi believes in smashing stereotypes and opening up important conversations such as identity, sexuality and racial experience. In short, we are the representation you wish you had when you were a teenager. You can find Pardesi on Instagram and their website www.par-desi.com.