There are precisely three reasons I chose to write this blog.
1. A sex-crazed friend who now claims that he is ‘changed’.
2. The print promotion for Udaan in Mumbai Mirror.
3. The article ‘Sex get younger’ dated July 25, 2010 in Times Life!, Mumbai Edition.
The media references above give statistics and changing opinions regarding the attitude towards sex in India. My friend gave me a headache. More about that later. The ‘Udaan’ display ad claimed that 9 out of 10 boys and 7 out of 10 girls are ok with pre-marital sex. It did not state the number of youngsters surveyed, their age and socio-economic groups or the cities surveyed. The Times Life! article presented uninhibited outlooks of 20-somethings with regards sex and how more and more Indian teenagers are becoming sexually active at earlier ages. Being a 20-something myself, I wasn’t taken aback by any of it as I know what our generation thinks like and wants in life and yet I found certain things worrisome. Do I plan to moralize in this blog? No but there are certain fundamentals that do not change irrespective of your age, socio-economic class, era, skin colour, religion, caste, race, nationality and location. That is what I plan to rant about.
It is my childhood friend mentioned above who made me concerned about the state of affairs of the people of my age group and socio-economic class who are well-educated, well-travelled and who have excellent access to information from across the planet thanks to the internet. My friend and I, until recently, had argued on a regular basis about India’s ‘conservative, closed and regressive’ stance towards sex and sexuality. These arguments continued even after he shifted base to live with Uncle Sam for graduate education. Do not think that we do not talk about anything else but this buddy has a knack for bringing any conversation on to this track. Most of our arguments would commence with his complaints about Indian girls being very traditionalist about sex, our refusal to satisfy our ‘biological urges’ (whatever that means!) and our ‘hypocritical’ wait for marriage to lose our virginity. I resisted and fought the urge to use the much employed “Will-you-like-it-if-your-sister-practices-what-you-preach-?” rhetoric for the sake of propriety and our long-standing friendship. It is none of anybody’s business when or why someone (male or female) decides to lose their virginity to. It is an extremely personal decision that shouldn’t be taken just like that. Before our last and final argument, I had often tried to reason with him the dangers of casual sex and multiple partners as date rapes, MMS scandals (remember DPS scandal?), the spread of salacious rumours, damage to reputation and psychological scarring. He always rubbished these arguments and seemed convinced that such things only happen to others. I would get accused of not being open-minded. Clearly his definition of open-minded and my definition of open-minded were not the same. If his understanding of the word is correct, I would rather not be open-minded at all! Once, I had to make my stand very clear about a few things. The personal life of any adult is none of my business till the time that person is doing it behind closed doors (windows and roof) and that his/her partner(s) is (are) consenting human adults! Keep very quiet about things and I won't take. Juicy details don't get out without the partners making it public! The involvement of minors or animals in a sex act makes it a criminal offence and hence my business as people who try and have sex with animals often turn to abusing children when they grow bored of animals. At this point, I was accused of changing the topic and being too politically correct. I did not get that accusation but realization dawned upon me, albeit late, that a rational and objective debate with this character was useless.
The last time a similar argument took place (on an ISD call) he simply bowled this ‘maiden’ over. The argument this time was about India’s reluctance to accept casual flings and one-night stands. He asked me to look at how liberal and open the Western societies are. I firmly held my ground. I told him that we ought to look at and emulate the 10,000 excellent aspects of industrialized societies and avoid their problems. I do not think casual sex and one-night stands are immoral nor should it be illegal for adults to indulge in these things but I personally find them highly avoidable for multiple reasons. He asked me to explain my hypocrisy. This enraged me but I kept my cool. For the first time, I got down to extremely practical issues. I asked him to spell and explain the terms ‘Chlamydia’, ‘Syphilis’, ‘Herpes’ and ‘Gonorrhea’. Here are his responses.
‘K-L-A-M-I-D-I-A’ – Sounds like some worm.
‘S-I-P-H-I-L-I-S’ – Must be another worm.
‘H-E-R P-E-A-S’ – Don’t know.
‘G-O-N-O-R-I-A’ – This is definitely an earthworm.
I was simply stunned. For those of you who are and who are not stunned, read further carefully. I brought it to his notice that these are STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). He replied by saying that such things only happen in books! What is the next thing that we are going to think up for shouting out loud? The sex education seminar held in our school (St. John the Baptist High School) has been completely wasted on him. I had cut the call immediately as I had nothing left to say and neither did I want to hear further rubbish. We haven’t heard each others voices since.
Here was a high-scoring engineer, who had missed the merit list in class 12 by a very slim margin, who spoke like an idiotic and irresponsible person, being precisely the kind ‘Rancho’ from ‘3 Idiots’ criticised, well-trained but not well-educated. That telephonic conversation left me disturbed. I decided to ask a dozen more friends to spell and explain the terms ‘Chlamydia’, ‘Syphilis’, ‘Herpes’ and ‘Gonorrhea’. All of them hold at least a Bachelor’s degree and are well-travelled, nationally and internationally. I drew zilches everywhere. There was only one girl who correctly said that Herpes is something that gives you boils. To worsen the situation, one guy actually revealed the height of anatomical ignorance when I brought up the topic of STDs. He called the vagina an ovary. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. This moron had obviously learnt everything he knows about sex only from porn and porn doesn't teach you anything important. The gravity of the epidemic of ignorance of sex-related issues hit me real hard that day.
The media is constantly telling us about how adventurous we, the youth, are getting about sex. Well, tell us something we don’t know! Give us the basics for heaven sake. A lot of practical information can be given out regularly in the media about sexual health for although most people know that HIV/AIDS can be prevented by the use of condoms, most don’t know that condoms don’t provide 100% protection. (For their credit, Mumbai Mirror and Bombay Times ran one article each in the last 2 months.) Only abstinence does. In fact, there are nearly 30 odd STDs and condoms don’t work well for all of them. Herpes can even spread by just kissing on the mouth! In fact in the USA, the country my crazy friend adores for its supposedly liberal attitude towards sex, 1 out of every 4 teenage girls contracts a STD and Herpes affects 1 out of every six people. Apart from AIDS, other STDs probably don’t get talked about because a Parmeshwar Godrej and a Richard Gere do not make a song and dance about it. The truth is that they exist, became curable after the discovery of penicillin (except Herpes) and are now becoming incurable about a century later.
There are other things too that need to be kept in mind before getting adventurous. Some people consider anal sex harmless as it cannot lead to pregnancy. That’s right but it can lead to tearing of the rectum and penile fractures. Gentlemen, you can fracture your penis even if there isn’t a bone in it! And lastly, everyone, please get the names of the male genitals and the female genitals right. There are 3D body maps on the net to help you out! I highly advise all ignorant fools to check out how pregnancy takes us from being miniscule embryos to kids and how puberty takes from being kids to adults. This is the 21st century for heaven's sake! In fact, even in the USA, responsible citizens are hopping mad about ignorance and the fact that unsafe sex has stopped being scary for some people.
The problem of AIDS in India is very different from that of industrialized nations. In those countries, the problem arises because their citizens have more than 5 sex partners on an average in their lifetimes. In India, these diseases are greatly restricted to MSMs, migrant workers, truck drivers, CSWs, drug addicts and the spouses and children of these people. We can do our Health Ministry a favor and keep things this way. I have a strong hunch that the revolting sights of babies born with congenital syphilis and herpes and other emotional and social repercussions must have made societies across the world look down on people who have multiple sexual partners. Even Helen Keller had voiced concerns about syphilis being a leading cause of blindness in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Let us, the educated and economically sound youth (SEC A &B), take responsibility to keep ourselves away from high risk activities and not create new problems for our society. After all, we are the ones who walk around like Mr. / Ms. Know-It-All. Let’s make best use of our access to information and not be ignorant about what we are against. It’s best to make optimum use of the internet and base our decisions on modern, scientific knowledge (most of which comes from the Western world at any rate!) and behave properly. After all, the internet isn’t there just for social networking. It isn’t worth spoiling our lives over few minutes of satisfying our 'biological urges'!
1. As a Facebook rat myself, I got back to my friend by putting links from http://health.aol.com about Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Herpes and Chlamydia on his Wall. They stayed there throughout daytime Indian Standard Time while he slept at night, Central Daylight Time, USA & Canada. Imagine that 'open-minded' individual's horror AND panic stricken phone call that arrived subsequently. ;)
2. In case if you suspect that you or your partner has a STD, call 69999999 or 28888888 (JustDial.com) to locate your nearest gynaecologist (for a girl) /urologist (for a boy) and get the requisite tests done. Any delay will only worsen the situation.