Emotional abuse in relationships encompasses extreme grey areas of psychological power battles and mind games. The things that their partners might hold hostage to leverage the power or seek gratification in relationships can get too complex for individuals to understand or even acknowledge at times. Be it emotional assurance, financial cooperation or sexual reciprocation; deprivation is often a form of punishment or psychological retaliation in relationships. For centuries, the myth of women being sexless or having lower sexual libido than men has been peddled by patriarchal social structures. The belief that sex is a lesser need for women, who have a higher need for romantic or platonic companionship, has been forged to alienate women from knowing their own body or pleasure while men across ages have been allowed the free license to be sexually profligate. Women too have internalized this dangerous fabrication and pursued sex solely as a ritual act that has to be compulsorily tolerated in any marital relationship. The act of sex has, therefore, owing to lack of awareness in women about their right to pleasure, been used weaponized by men to wield power in relationships.
When we talk of sex used as a tool for harassment in relationships against women, we usually think of the aspect of forceful imposition. The aspect of forcefully depriving partners of sex is a side to abuse that is rarely shed light on. Marriage till date remains the only socially legitimized alliance for women to have sex. And sexual pleasure in marriage has forever remained an elusive ground for women. Recently Durex India released a small bit of information via a social media post saying that 70 percent of women in India do not experience orgasm every time during sex. There is a hoard of videos on the internet where media companies focused on exploring taboo topics in our society, have gone out onto the street conversing with real people, recording and surveying the social mentality with regard to sex and pleasure. Open any one and all you find are middle-aged women finding it blasphemous to talk of sex and all ages of men express mostly judgment or disgust with regard to any unconventional subject regarding sex, be it forms or positions or even female pleasure. While male pleasure is championed by the whole of society as the sole means and end goal of sex, pleasure for women is believed to be the very leash to keep the women subservient and obedient. For, nothing is feared to be more doomful to society than a woman who unapologetically demands and explores her own sexuality. Most men don’t explore new forms or positions or experiment with new or enjoyable approaches to sex. Most believe these are the things that are shown in pornography or acts performed with sexual partners with whom you don’t form respectable connections. A wife is definitely not that kind of sexual partner. Most men have no idea about foreplay or how to arouse their partners. For several, penetrative sex is the only known form of the act or only definition they have for sex. While penetrative sex works towards providing men with their much-needed pleasure or orgasm, female bodies work very differently with respect to pleasure points or areas of sensitivity. In fact, for most women, penetrative sex is hardly pleasurable.
Men’s reluctance to learn about sex or see their wives and offspring be aware of their sexual rights is the expression of the underlying fear that sexual liberation of women is challenging to the patriarchal foundation of a society that has benefitted men over the ages to subjugate Eve and her daughters. Women need to demand back their pleasure from the shackles of patriarchal control. The act of sex isn’t a sole means for procreation for women. To have an unpleasurable, discomfort ridden sex life is equally abusive as a relationship in which emotional reciprocation is withheld. And having a partner who is never welcoming of a conversation that addresses the elephant in the room on account of the ‘discomfort’ it brings is abusive to the sense of equality a healthy partnership or relationship entails.
Sexual pleasure is a must-have in any relationship and a fundamental need. Women need to reclaim themselves in this aspect of life and love.