We Indians are so proud of our culture. Seriously, what’s not to be proud of? It is among the oldest cultures, known for family bonds, piety, meditation and holy lands. Our society binds us together by blinding us. Until any outside force of inward pressure leads us to explore we are ignorant individuals to whom the concept of physical attraction sometimes seems repugnant. We believe that a mind that divulges in investing its soul in energy and not reason only leads of a life of pain and agony. It is taken for granted that a child will know about his body on itself when the time is right and usually it is not until they have to procreate. Very rationale, I must say.
Most girls are unaware about the biological process going inside them during menstruation. Suddenly at the age of 12 or 13 they are pushed into this unknown world where the only reason for menstruation is “sabhi ladkiyo ke saath hota hai” (happens with every girl). Many schools do have school programs to impart the holy knowledge of what menstruation is, but denied any knowledge to the male students. You are made to hush about it, and have no explanation for being secretive. Sanitary pads initially are bandages your mother used and now they are bandages you use for your leaky body.
Then you realize that there is a mysterious connection between menstruation and pregnancy. Whoa! That was uncalled for. So, if ever your period is late you start hallucinating of what if you are pregnant because obviously you are not told how women get pregnant. I interviewed a few people on what they knew about pregnancy and sexual relations when they were young:
Chetan*: I kissed a girl in class ninth and was really worried if I might have impregnated her. I was really nervous and asked some of my friends who told me that kissing could not make a girl pregnant.
Maya*: I tried stating as far as possible from guys till ninth. It isn’t that I did not shake hands or anything but I knew that pregnancy had something to do with the bodies of girls and guys. I imagined that some stuff flies from the guy’s sweat pores and entered a girl’s body and made her pregnant.
Himanshu*: When I was in eighth standard, my classmate told me about sex and how I was born. I was horrified and told him that it was impossible that my parents could do something so disgusting and it clearly is something he made up.
Riya*: In ninth standard we had a biology lecture on male and female genitals and menstruation. I clearly remember that I could not even make out if the teacher was talking about periods or sexual intercourse. We just sat through the class with weird terms and definitions, some students sniggered once or twice but my friends and I were completely lost. Obviously, after a year I realized that the complete session was about sex.
These interviews might seem shocking and rather dumb to some enlightened beings but this is the situation of more than 50% of your peers. The age when children should be aware of what their bodies are feeling and going through, we keep them in the dark in the hope that just before their marital experience the sudden enlightenment might be a ‘proper’ decision. Many children who suffer child abuse hardly know what they are experiencing and only realize much later that what they went through was an act of sexual abuse. Some children resort to indulging in pornography or find answers outside their homes. There is something really funny about this hush-hush. A guy who found a pornography website kept this excursion and other following ones hidden in his heart and switched off his computer when he saw his father coming. He subconsciously felt that his act would be considered wrong.
Kissing in bollywood movies is depicted by flowers touching or girl and guy beneath an umbrella or coat or jacket. The child is left wondering as to what hides beneath this veil. Psychologically, prohibited and masked things make a person much more curious. The child knows that he/she will find no answers at home and hence seeks it outside. Some children get too involved in sexual activities thus destroying their body and life because of being ill informed. By the time the child is in college, he/she knows everything about the tabooed term ‘sex’ both, its how’s and why’s. But, parents seem to love the delusion of the innocent Adam or Eve they see in their children. Every time a guy kisses a girl in a movie the television channel is changed, English movies are sinful and interaction with every opposite gender can be a potential danger. We too play their part well by pretending to not know what must stay unsaid.
We know everything about sexual intercourse and its naturalness, yet, even among our friends, the word ‘sex’ is referred through weird sign languages as if our voice betrays us and the word might slit our throat. A girl has to necessarily blush and say, “haw yaar kaise bolri hai tu” (OMG how can you say such things). Public display of love is a serious offence but publically peeing is a natural phenomenon in this holy country. Being explicit about the natural phenomenons of our bodies either becomes “cool” or it makes you “cheap”. A girl who is open about her sexuality would be slut-shamed by most of her peers and a guy would become a playboy. There is hardly anyone who considers it just NORMAL without any polarities attached to it.
But all is not hopeless because with time things are changing and there are families who have denied conforming to these social taboos and are inclined to make their children aware of the world without any abridged version which excludes our bodies. Sex education is the need of the hour. So, lets be more open and less secretive because a guided, informative and complete knowledge leads to a harmonious, healthy and happy lifestyle.
(*names have been changed)