By Halima Bello Husseini:
From the age of 10, it becomes virtually impossible for someone to not have a discussion exploring the most primal and essential of human acts. Sex. Yet, there is no topic which is as sinfully delightful, scandalous and full of taboos like sex. Most people never discuss sex openly over dinner. No matter how many times the word ‘sex’ comes to our mouths, we (especially those of us under 25) are still riding the wave with no real knowledge or guidance. Therefore, when I was given a radio production assignment at Apeejay Stya University, I spoke about it.
We had our friends from the University on the radio production as our guests, consisting of students from different countries. The eldest amongst us, was a master’s student from Nigeria. India was the first country she had visited. The other two members of our group were also from Nigeria, but came from diplomatic families. It meant that they didn’t grow up in the Nigerian milieu. They both brought a variety of social and cultural awareness from their experiences in the west, Scandinavian countries, middle east, as well as other African nations like Zimbabwe and Sudan. I come from a traditional Nigerian family, and due to my father’s diplomatic status – have had the opportunity to live in four different countries. My co-anchor was from India, who had been born and brought up in Mumbai and had roots in Andhra Pradesh.
My gang of eager talkers on sex, found our way to the area outside the auditorium. We sat on the lush grass in the midst of a busy day. We could hear the distant sounds of the noises from the road behind us. My co-anchor and I started the discussion by casually asking what they thought about sex. The common answer to this was the understanding that sex is an intimate act between consenting individuals. It is not supposed to be shunned or hidden because the cycle of life cannot be complete without sex.
As everyone started conversing more, we started talking about sex education. Most of us never thought about sex education in school. It was a conversation which always took place behind closed doors. For the students from countries outside India, talking about sex meant learning and figuring out why it was something so coveted. They discussed and shared stories of experiences. The diversity in our group, helped us understand that sex and sex education were treated differently in different societies. While some were openly honest about sex, others were not. For the students in India – sex was and continues to remain taboo.
I couldn’t understand why talking about sex in detail, or being curious about it was not ‘normal’. No matter how close individuals were to each other, it was uncomfortable to talk about it. Such a mentality, of sex being discussed in hushed tones was shocking for me. I instantly opposed such a mentality. I had personally spoken about sex with other young students from India. I knew this couldn’t be the full picture. However, it cannot be denied that the ones who openly have a conversation about sex are always considered the ‘immoral’ ones. Sections of the young population in India who are interested in freely discussing about sex, do not represent the majority.
A master’s student in the group, shared one instance in which sex became a major issue at our University. In bioscience, understanding reproduction and all its sub elements is a fundamental part. There was one paper in the subject on the mechanics of human sex. Several parents protested against the paper, forcing the University to eliminate this topic entirely from the curriculum.
This revelation shifted the course of the conversation. Sex is not a subject to be taken lightly as it consists of many psychological, emotional and physical factors. Treating it like a time-bomb hasn’t really helped anyone. Primordial ways cannot continue to govern something as indispensable as sex and sexuality. Today, we live in a world where sex and sexuality are at the forefront. One of the most effective ways to combat the confusions and issues surrounding these is to educate. Sex education is necessary as it involves talking about subjects like sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, population control, gender equality, respect within genders, and respect within a relationship. However, it is important to understand that sex education shouldn’t just be a conversation on ‘birds and bees’. A detailed and less clinical approach needs to be taken in order to educate and empower young adults. Frank Zappa said, “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” Expressing the need to acquire a knowledge of sex, not just the act. Our discussion was not aired, but it made my friends and I realise that we all must be a part of this fight for sex education.