A Guest Post by Rucha.
As someone who is still figuring myself out, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a country where I could explore my sexuality via the Internet *ahem* to see what I liked and disliked, even though I live in a VERY conservative family, I wonder how it would be for young adults living in India who have such repressed ideas about sexuality and a tremendous focus on studies and getting a job. When it comes time for arranged marriage, they are automatically expected to marry the opposite sex and then usually have intimate relations on the first night! Even in US fundamentalist circles, there is a year given to getting to know each other. But in Indian arranged marriages, you have to decide in 1-3 meetings if you like each other or not (never mind getting to know each other-the elders think that can happen AFTER marriage!)
Never mind figuring out what TYPE of sexuality you have, how do you even know you HAVE a sex drive/sexuality if you are pushed into it like that after repressing it for that long? How many Indian couples are actually physically attracted to each other? There is no room for not being “sure” of your sexuality, it is assumed that you are straight and like men/or women even if you have never had a relationship before! Also what if you find out on your wedding night you are not attracted to your SO?
I think this happens to women more than men, because men often place importance on a woman’s beauty during the marriage search, but if a woman sees an unfortunate-looking man but with a high salary, her relatives will often try to downplay the importance of physical attractiveness because of the higher financial stability. I know that happened to my mom, when she was meeting a guy who had glasses and did not look very good but came from a rich house. Her aunt and uncle tried to convince her that you have to take everything into consideration, including education, good family values, etc, not just the face. Another trick is to say that good physical appearance is temporary and will go downhill with age. Fortunately she did not end up marrying him or I wouldn’t have been born!
I read a story about how a devout man, who had never watched a porn film in his life was married to a similar devout woman. On their wedding night, he had no idea what to do and had to call his parents for steps! I think that it is truly more sad than embarrassing. How can you get married with putting something as important as sexuality on the back burner and just hoping the problem will go away or resolve itself with time?
I read another story about a woman who was best friends with a guy and so when pressure started for her to get married, she married him. In 10 years, they had intimate relations only 2 times and it was only when she was pressured to have a child she figured out she did not like sex with men, wasn’t even physically attracted to him, her relationship with her husband was more of siblings, and she was a lesbian. Imagine how much pain and heartache could have been saved for all if she explored her sexuality before getting married. But again, there was the assumption that of course she is straight, why wouldn’t she be and that if there is a problem the couple will figure it out themselves behind closed doors.
I am interested to know what your readers think about my above questions and comments.
Also posted on – theindianamericanfeminist.blogspot.com.