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Having Sex Is Shameful But Not Having Sex Makes Me A Loser. What?

By Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan for Youth Ki Awaaz:

My cats and I have all been lying supine on any cool surface we can find. Hope you’re staying out of the heat too! Let’s get started:

W asks:

When I was a teenager, it was shameful to have sex, now in my 20s, you’re a loser if you aren’t having sex all the time. What’s the deal?

Dear W,

Think of life as one long checklist. You wouldn’t be the first person to use this metaphor, people have been doing it since religion was invented and you needed a list of ways you could out-pious your neighbour. According to the checklist, you approach everything in its own good time, you move it off your list and you move on to the next task. Nowadays, it looks a lot like this:

1) Get educated

2) Get a job (this can be omitted if you’re a woman because society wants women to have babies early)

3) Get married

4) Have the first kid

5) Get a promotion

6) Have the second kid

7) See your kids off to a good future

8) Retire well

9) Die

As you can see, there’s not much wriggle room. If you have one kid, people will expect you to have a second. If you have three kids, people will say that’s too many. If you continue to work and not get married, that’s wrong, as is having the babies without the marriage, blowing your retirement fund on a holiday and so on and so forth. There are many “shoulds” in this world and I think it’s safe to ignore most of them.

Except, and I’m circling back to the first half of your question here—the reason people frown upon teens having sex is that unless both teens are over the age of consent, it’s illegal. And the reason it’s illegal is because when you’re a teenager, your emotions are everywhere, and once you add being sexually active to that mix, it’s not such a good idea. Adolescent brains simply cannot handle rational thinking, because their brains are still developing. So, that’s probably why you weren’t encouraged to go crazy with the sexing back in your teen days, no matter what the cool kids did.

As for now, sex is a spectrum. There are people who are asexual who don’t actually want sex ever, there are people saving themselves for marriage, there are people who have active sex drives and no need for relationships, there are people who have ups and downs with their libido, and so on and so forth. It’s part of the checklist though, part of the stuff you “have” to do to be a well-adjusted adult. Feel free to ignore it.

Aunty Feminist

Aunty Feminist loves to hear from her readers! If you’d like her to answer a burning question you might have, send it to us at or tweet your questions to @reddymadhavan.