I am an Indian woman in my early twenties. If I were to say the word ‘sex’ in the proximity of my family members, they would look at me with a variety of emotions ranging from shame to disgust based on my context of using the word.
Of course, I wouldn’t dare to say it, lest they begin to question their upbringing of me. However, sexuality education should be a part of every adolescent’s life. Since we’ve started to get comfortable with getting rid of taboos surrounding sexuality, I think it’s time that parents take up the duty of dispensing some common knowledge about sex.
I didn’t have the privilege of attending a top private school that came straight out of a Karan Johar movie, but I did go to many decent schools. And not one of them made an effort to impart sexuality education holistically.
At most, the schools would organize private sessions wherein the girls would be called separately to discuss periods and the need to wear tights because legs are a dangerous entity of their own.
Of course, there were biology classes for both class 9 and 10 where we would eagerly wait for the chapters on reproduction. We would giggle behind the book’s covers. But surprisingly, these portions, although not skipped, were completed faster than the rest. A few drawings on the blackboard, a quick read out of the relevant passages for the examinations and that was all.
But why only talk about schools and expect them to attend to the curiosity of adolescents, when Indian homes leave no stone unturned to make ‘sex’ an unapproachable and awkward topic.
Perhaps, Indian families fear that if a teenager knows all about it, they might want to get down with it right away. Parents don’t seem to understand that by normalizing the topic and being open to discussion on sex would be more helpful.
Only through sexuality education, can incidents of child sexual abuse be brought to light and be averted in future. The spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies can be avoided through safe sex practices, not by forcing the principle of abstinence on young people.
I recall a conversation with my mom, years ago, that went along the lines of how virginity is a sacred gift to one’s husband. I laugh at how seriously I took it back then.
No matter who I end up with, I’m pretty sure he won’t want to make a pendant out of my hymen and show off his ‘conquest’! It is hypocritical to expect adults to wait until they get married to have sex.
Normalizing conversations on sex doesn’t mean that parents need to discuss various sex positions with their children or ask them how they lost their virginity. But they have to acknowledge that their child probably engages in sexual activities. So, the focus should be on consent and safe sex practices.
Parents shouldn’t create such a cynical environment, wherein if their child finds themselves in a tight situation, they cannot open up to their parents.
Knock on your children’s rooms, sit with them and try to talk to them till the conversations flow freely. It will be awkward in the beginning, but in the end, parents could become friends with their children.