By Ishani Nangia
Catchy isn’t it? No, it isn’t a clickbait!
“Let’s talk about sex” was the theme of a recent event organized by a youth organisation Pratisandhi that aims to promote dialogue on sexual health education in India. The organisation has been doing a remarkable job in normalising conversations regarding sexual health and related issues.
In a country like India, there is a dire need to talk about it. But we hesitate to even use the word ‘sex’ in a public place, let alone discussing it. In the name of sex education what we are taught is good touch and bad touch and not to have sex until marriage (irony intended). However, in reality, sex education is much more than just sex. It includes issues related to sexuality, gender fluidity, equality, orgasm, consent, harassment, etc. All such aspects were discussed in depth during the panel discussion.
The discussion started with a brief introduction from the panelists which included Miss Meenakshi, a gynaecologist in Fortis, with more than 25 years of experience, Miss Radhika Mittal founder/director of Super School India which aims to promote sex education among children. The panel also had Miss Shreejani, a senior campaigner for Haiyaa foundation and TEDx speaker Pallavi Barnwal, who is also an intimacy coach. Topics like masturbation and female orgasm were followed by gender issues. The noteworthy part in the entire discussion was when Shreejani described how we need not put our sexual identities in boxes. Sexual orientation should be a fluid concept that might change over a course of time.
“You might be heterosexual once but later be attracted to someone from the same gender. People are forced to pick a tag even before they make peace with their true self. This concept of boxing identities has added a lot of pressure not only on the LGBTQ community but on everyone”, said Shreejani.
Further, everyone discussed how it is completely normal to seek medical help, especially when you are struggling with your identity. Visiting a counsellor or psychiatrist doesn’t necessarily mean you have mental issues. The same thing applies to visiting a gynaecologist. Most women hesitate to visit a gynae, thinking that their doctor might judge them. Well, doctors too are a product of the society. But when she asks you about your marital status it necessarily doesn’t come with judgement.
Miss Radhika further talked about the stigma regarding the word ‘sex’ in the society and how often she has to ditch the word ‘sex education’ while interacting with the authorities so that they give her some time with the children.
In a personal conversation afterwards, I asked her what to do when our parents do not support and have the same prejudices as the society? Smiling, she said, ”It should not stop you from making the impact on others that you possibly can just because your parents judge you. It doesn’t mean you stop being who you really are or what good you can do for the society”.
The discussion ended with a flood of questions from the audience which busted several myths regarding masturbation and contraceptives.
We have certainly come a long way from the constant stigma and unawareness regarding sexual health or sexual identities. However, there is still a long way to go. Many more such safe spaces need to be created. Much more dialogue should be held so that the taboo regarding “sex” gets totally shattered.