Despite being home to the Kama Sutra, the undisputed book on sex, sexuality, eroticism, and more - India does not associate itself with any of these attributes anymore. A whisper of the word ‘sex’ is enough to invite judgement, and the knowledge of reality that young adults engage in the same, specifically before marriage, is perpetually ignored.
Let’s go one step beyond (maybe a step too far for most average Indians) and talk about kinks. The idea of sex involving adventure and spice is not nearly addressed enough in India. The country on a whole now skims over the fact that sex is an act of intimacy, pleasure, fun, and satisfaction, and not just a prerequisite to conceiving children. The absolute shame surrounding such preferences is often overbearing, and pushes the kink and/or BDSM community into a space far from comfort.
Matt Fraction, author of Sex Criminals, Volume 3: Three the Hard Way (2016) is spot-on in the book when he says. ‘You’re into what you’re into, I’m into what I’m into... and if you’re safe, sane, and happy, then go on and get you some.’
Following Matt’s insight, we wish to explore and celebrate a community that celebrates sex and all its attributes. Posing questions on consent, kink, BDSM, and more, we gathered the thoughts from a diverse set of young Indians that were willing enough to impart them to us.
A word about our responses:
The age group of our respondents ranged from 19-29 years old.
Our respondents were from Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi, and Mumbai.
57.1% of our respondents identify as female, and the rest as male.
All of our respondents chose to stay anonymous; any names used are fictional and is indicated so by using *.
For qualitative purposes, the respondents were not forced to choose from just a selection of options and were allowed to give us insight in their own words.
While the responses we received may not wholly come under the ‘kink’ umbrella, our respondents’ honesty and openness compel us to share them with you. Any out-of-the-norm sexual preferences and needs are not usually mentioned in daily conversations, and so for these individuals to let us in on them is a rather big feat.
Moving into the sphere of dominance and submission, 28.6% of our respondents made sure to tell us their interest in it. This space does not solely revolve around ‘who’s-top-and-who’s-bottom’ but includes a consensual exchange of power. While some like to steer the sexual act in a specific direction, others prefer to be the ones to oblige. 25-year-old Rashmi* from Guwahati adds roleplay to her list of kinks including dominance as well as submission, and Garima* from Delhi tells us simply, ‘I like being dominated.’
Adding a third party in the act, Aman* from Bangalore tells us, ‘Never done it but to watch or be watched. Only experienced this while I watch porn though. Clips where a third person in particular a woman is sleeping immediately to the couple doing it. I usually imagine my partner and me as that couple.’
With the thought of exciting sexual acts comes the responsibility of ensuring consent – receiving enthusiastic confirmation that all individuals involved are on board with what is about to pan out.
We put out the question to our audience, ‘If you practise kinks with a partner, what standard measures do you follow to ensure that consent is warranted?’ and it is safe to say, we were more than pleased with everyone’s awareness and knowledge of the need of consent.
With the basic understanding that permission must be obtained prior to the physical and sexual acts, Muskaan* from Kolkata tells us what she does, ‘Asking before performing or having a conversation about it in advance.’ Akanksha* from Mumbai ensures she asks before ‘...anything and everything’, and we completely agree. Rashmi* reminds us of the need for ‘safe words’ to ensure that consent is guaranteed for the whole duration, and that any person may be able to willingly take a step back at any given point in time.
‘It’s okay for boundaries to vary from person to person. Just because you’ve previously been okay with something, doesn’t mean that isn’t subject to change,’ says Garima*.
By now, and perhaps with experience, you would have come to the conclusion that sex is considered impure in India – funny, seeing as we have the second-largest population in the world. Yet, most Indians find it uncomfortable to talk about sex, let alone kinks. The lack of conversation brings about assumptions, none of which are healthy toward the kink community or anyone that partakes in them.
Our respondents kindly took us through some of these misconceptions, that that too ones that we hope are done away with soon.
29-year-old Mohit* from Pune says, ‘The biggest problem is the inevitable judgement from people leading to more people not being open about their kinks.’
He is right when he says that people refrain from being open about kinks because of external pressures, and this vicious cycle continues till conversations and awareness take place.
‘It’s all safe and consensual, there is no risk of bodily harm, it’s very intimate and affectionate and not actually an avenue for violence,’ Rashmi* tells us. The concept of violence is easily attached to kink owing to its intense nature, but this misconception is a leading contributor to not just unacceptance, but the shameful attitude toward kinks.
Akanksha* captures our stance perfectly when she says, ‘Honestly, sex itself is so highly stigmatised, that when it comes to kinks people just exoticise anyone that has them, and people think kinks are just really violent when they are not.’
Iris Mudroch in her book The Nice and the Good (1968) points out aptly, ‘Sex comes to most of us with a twist.’ Not everyone’s sexual preferences exist on the same plane, and that is okay. As long as consent and safety are ensured, who is anyone to judge or comment on anyone else’s sexual choices?
With that, we leave you with encouragement to practise your kinks sans shame and judgement and with wholehearted enthusiasm and ownership.
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