Sexuality or 'human' sexuality is the ability to feel sexual and represent as sexual beings in the society. Sexuality is a wide topic that includes emotional, erotic, physical, social, and biological feelings and behaviors.
Sexuality over history has seen a lot of changes. In prehistoric times, sexuality existed to maintain social order and economic stability and survival. Gradually, as the concept of family and society evolved, people started domesticating animals that led to zoophilia, meaning, performing sexual activities on animals. A lot of ancient art and sculptures are prevalent that manifest bestiality or zoophilia e.g., one can find mithunas indulged in sexual activities with horses in the Indian Khajuraho sculptures. With developments in intelligence and technology, artificial birth control devices like condoms and diaphragms were invented. Thereafter, a number of people declared their homosexuality. Pornographic content in form of videos and magazines took a rise and people started marrying to their lovers, contrary to the previous reasons of marrying for reproduction and maintaining social order.
Various other sexual concepts started trending in western countries like one-night stands, casual sex, and ‘friends with benefits’ types of relationships. When these eccentric concepts denied the conventional notions of religious institutions and the government, these powerful establishments opposed their views, resulting in the origin of various rights and movements. The ongoing sexual movements are those that demand rights for the LGBT community.
India too is witnessing a lot of movements related to the LGBT community, women’s rights, and anti-rape drives that are thought-provoking. India itself has been a part of many changes in sexuality right from the Ramayana and Mahabharata times to recently established sexual taboos. India is a land of Kamasutra, which essentially talks about the four goals (Kama) of life and which includes sexual desires as well.
Written somewhere between 400 BCE and 200 CE, Kamasutra is a proof of Indian sexuality back in ancient times. One can see erotic sculptures that form about 10% of the art in the Khajuraho group of monuments. Said to be built by the Chandela dynasty, these sculptures depict everyday life including mithunas in various sexual positions.
Indian kings and queens throughout history have been practicing polygamy — meaning, marrying more than one person — to capture new kingdoms and territories. Though this concept was practiced by those in power and not the commoners, one can still find polygyny majorly in the Muslim and Buddhist groups even in contemporary times.
Though India is a land of diverse cultures that have a mix of sexual notions, one can argue that all the cultures have more or less similar conservative ideology when it comes to sex and related concepts. Sex itself is a taboo in India and is something that is discussed behind the doors in whispers — so may it be in the form of homosexuality, premarital sex, losing virginity or prostitution.
In most parts of contemporary India, men desire a virgin bride and conduct ridiculous tests (like the white bedsheet and two-finger test) to check their wife’s ‘purity’. This helps in creating male dominance, which is then transformed into marital rape. The court of India does not consider marital rape as a crime and therefore many atrocities go unnoticed and unregistered. The victim is suppressed due to the fear of isolation and judgment from the society.
In India, having an affair is deemed as a sin, let alone indulging in premarital sex. Persons involved in premarital sex are often called names like “slut” for women and “playboy” for men. If a girl gets pregnant before marriage, she mostly has no other choice but to abort her child, due to the fear of her parents disowning her. Some intercaste marriages even lead to honor killings because the parents weigh the dignity of their ideals more than the love of their children.
Another issue that is taking rounds recently is homosexuality. Indian courts look at same-sex relationships as illegal. However, there are many rallies and movements supporting homosexuals in India, which might amend the law.
Though Indian mentality is changing gradually, there are yet many taboos in India like premarital sex, losing virginity, abortions, prostitution, menstruation, casual sex, and kissing in public that still needs to break. It might take another generation until India is finally free of sexual taboos.
Image Source: Huffingtonpost