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The Ridiculous Notions About Marriage And Sex That I Found In My Sociology Textbook

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After much consideration, I picked sociology as one of my five subjects in class 12.  There was no hesitation on my part. I was certain I’d relish the subject and everything that I’d learn would stay with me for a very long time, if not forever.

I was exuberant. I was certain the subject had so much to offer. And for the first time in my entire life, I was peppy to hold a textbook. This was so very different from anything I’d ever done before. The very thought of the things I would find in those pages was so enticing. I flipped through the textbook, careful not to miss any chapter and while doing this, I eventually came to the subject of marriage. With undulating exuberance, I went through the chapter. The mood slowly changed into that of disgust as I read each line. I brushed it off, and decided to go through another book, and found similar, derogatory and regressive remarks there as well.

And then it dawned upon me that I was supposed to put stuff I absolutely disagreed with, on paper, and I would be graded on it. I had to write stuff that I have fought against for a major part of my life. I was expected to accept a bunch of ideas and call it education, which was regressive even by the standards of the 1970s.

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The primary aim of marriage is sex. So, when you break that down for the ease of comprehension, marriage is about two people living together and using each other as sex toys.There is so much wrong with this clearly thoughtless statement. This goes on to mean that you cannot refuse sex throughout the course of your marriage because sex is the basis of your relationship. So, refusing sex would take away meaning from your marriage. And another important thing to note here is, that, this statement denies the existence of marital rape. Marital rape cannot exist when the primary reason of your marriage is sex. Saying the statement condones marital rape would be a little too bold and uncalled for, but it sure does deny its existence.

Sex in a socially approved manner.” Now, this is something that has intrigued me for quite a few years. Why would the society, my neighbours, my parents or my siblings care who I have sex with? How does it concern anyone if I have sex before marriage or pay someone for sex, as long as they are willingly taking part in it? It seems preposterous to me that I need permission to do something with my body, inside my house, with another fully consenting adult.

I am afraid I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but these books seem to be implying the same thing across multiple pages with sentences constructed a little differently. To prevent “chaos and confusion in society.” Huh? Like rape and sexual abuse? So, having sex with your wife/husband, keeps you away from molesting people? In that case, rapists should be sentenced to marry someone instead of sending them to prison. This way we make sure they never molest anyone again, and we are saving precious tax money.

And the other statement is even more cringe-worthy. “Incestuous relationships.” So, if it weren’t for marriage, would everyone have incestuous relationships? So, this technically comes down to one thing. As you may need someone to sleep with, it’s better you get a sex toy in the name of marriage instead of sleeping with a family member. But the legal age to wed is 18-21 and people usually hit puberty by the time they are 13 or 14. So, what about that period between puberty and marriage? Who do you have sex with then? Or do you only have sexual urges when you turn 18?

If the above changes really did occur, then marriage has gained some meaning. Prior to this, it was a deal.

This certainly isn’t what I expected to find. These statements make all men seem like monsters and all women as sex slaves. These statements aren’t fair to men, women or the institution of marriage.

It’s ridiculous that this is the kind of thing that are in textbooks, which may be read by impressionable teenagers. We make regressive monsters out of our children because we condone such behaviour. Lines like these create an impression on a child’s mind. Statements like these validate treating women badly. Statements like these keep the society from taking off its shackles of backwardness and stupidity.

I am not against sex. There is no denying that sex is an important aspect of marriage. But your marriage loses meaning when your partner is merely a sex toy and the only reason this relationship exists is to keep your partner from “creating chaos” in society. This is not marriage. This is a combination of being a sex toy and a jailer, not a spouse.

Ultimately, love is the word that should be associated with marriage, but the institution of marriage today is losing its core meaning in Indian society. Sex isn’t bad. But marriage isn’t only about sex. And I don’t see why this is so hard to understand.

And in conclusion, sociology is a beautiful subject. There is so much to learn. It gives you a chance to explore something new and different. It’s thought provoking and incredibly riveting. But these few books are a jest in the name of education. And these books are exactly what is wrong with the society today.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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