Sex Outside Marriage – My Choice? Really?

Among all the brouhaha surrounding the “My Choice” Vogue Empower video with Deepika Padukone, one thing that struck me was how many people did not like the words, “to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside marriage.” A lot of people reacted as if the very moral fibre of society would collapse if women had the choice of having sex outside or before marriage.

That led me to wonder that if a woman wanted to have sex outside marriage,what were the options open to her?  When I asked this question to my friends and acquaintances, a lot of them were aghast at the very idea. And I am not talking only about  people in their 50s like me or older, but younger people in their mid-twenties and early thirties too.

Why does this particular phrase anger people so much, both men and women? Is it because we don’t  like to think of a woman as a sexual being, someone who needs sexual release as any man would? Is it because we believe, even as women, that sexual satisfaction is only the right of a man and that we must “tolerate” it?

What happens if a man does not get sex within a marriage? A lot of times, he looks outside and is not judged too harshly for it. Since time immemorial it has been accepted that when a woman was with child or had just delivered and couldn’t satisfy her husband’s sexual needs, it was  okay for him to seek sex with someone else.

So, if a man wants to have sex outside marriage,  he can visit a prostitute. Can a woman do the same? Are there brothels with male sex workers where women can visit?

My search on the web, not surprisingly, showed that while there is a lot written about women sex workers, there isn’t much about male sex workers. Also, most male sex workers seem to be gay or cater to men rather than women. Why is the male sex drive given so much importance while women are not even supposed to want sex?

Every society recognises the need for women sex workers, but a male prostitute is often derided or even envied. If a man wants sex, “he is a man after all”. If a woman wants sex, “OMG she wants to have sex!”

Leave alone having sex outside marriage, how many women are comfortable initiating sex with their husbands without fear of being ridiculed? We have been conditioned to think that sex is a burden we have to bear and tolerate.

At a get-together with a few married women friends, the topic turned to sex and most of the women confessed to never touching their husband’s body unless asked specifically to do so and then too it was “because he wanted it and would have got upset if I didn’t do it.” This in a marriage of at least 10 years. Women are still not comfortable enough to ask for and have mutually satisfying sex. Being able to give in to truly wild, abandoned sex whether in a marriage or outside is the privilege of a very small percentage of women. For most it is something that can’t even bear thinking about.

And that is why, though we talk of women empowerment and all, we are still reluctant to grant a woman the choice to have sex when she wants, how she wants and with whom she wants.

P.S. I wonder how much flak I am going to get, both publicly and privately, for writing about this at  all!

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