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Sex & the Female: Do Young women address their sexuality as explicitly as young men do?

In view of the recent shocking boys locker room incident that made the headlines in the recent past, one thing stands visible about the disparity in the socialisation of young boys and young girls.

Boys tend to be sexually precocious from a very early age while girls come to know about their distinct physical needs and pleasures comparatively later. In our society,  young females aren’t oriented to know themselves as sexual beings, an aspect of being that is seen as a fundamental given when it comes to boys. Sexuality is a deeply entrenched stigma in Indian society. Specially when it comes to discussions on female sexuality, all agents of socialisation play a restrictive and repressive role. A lot of times we hear the addage ‘boys will be boys’ excusing sexually inappropriate behaviour promulgated by men. This reflects a general collective mindset that sexual libido is a naturally enhanced aspect of masculine experience whereas feminine nature exists more so to serve sexual needs of their male counterparts rather than actively foster needs and enjoyments of its own. Hence girls come to know about their bodies, the distinct sexual needs or pleasure points at a lot later age in life, often not forging that knowledge at all. Female desire and pleasure is an extremely taboo subject the society we live in.

Conversations on sexuality vociferously take place between male friends in all male friend circles from a very young age. We have a more covert term called ‘locker room talk’ for this culture. A lot of this conversation and awareness of sex is moulded by pornography in the absence of the right and ethical sources of sex education. Pornography leads to creating distorted images of sexual experience vastly separate from real life and blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Moreover it largely negates the concept of sexual consent or mutual respect. This creates an idea of sexual entitlement in young boys.

When it comes to girls, their bodies are largely introduced to them as spaces of shame, discomfort and secrecy. Lacking in knowledge about their own needs and desires, young girls while entering into sexual relationships in late adolescence or adulthood  are hardly familiar with the ideas of consent or pleasure pointss in terms of physical intimacy. Hence a lot of intimate partner violence or abuse can be spotted in young and  older( but that requires another conversation to cover) Indians. Unfortunately a lot of this happens with girls and women being in the complete dark about the abuse qualifying for what it is. They normalise the treatment and try to get accustomed to it.

A knowledge of female sexual pleasure and desire is extremely important in order to protect our young girls from a lot of unnecessary pain and discomfort they undergo unknowingly. We need to step up conversations on the topic a lot more than there is at present.

Thought bubbles from few young students:

I think a distinction needs to be made between sexual awareness and sexual conversations. In my own experience, I have observed boys (myself included) be societally endowed to be able to talk about sex with my other male friends, but given our societal obsession with sanctimony, men often have sexual conversations (where conversations about sexuality are distorted, disorderly and influenced largely by pop culture and pornography) rather than discussions ABOUT sexual (sexual awareness). Sexual awareness and education is rare, so even though men (in most cases) have the ability to talk about sex much earlier or even more openly, these are still taboo topics or topics which are giggled about.

Utsho Bose, Final year literature student at St Stephen’s College, Delhi

Porn plays a big role in helping someone coming to terms with their sexuality and getting to know their bodies. I believe boys are more vocal and active when it comes to watching porn, which results in sexual maturity earlier than that of girls. On the other hand, girls are known to mature sexually only with time and experience as they notice the changes that take place both outside as well as inside them.

Priyasha Mukherjee, Standard XII student at G. D. Birla Centre For Education

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