How does it feel to live in a society that has gone through years of evolution and modernisation, but you still find yourself leaving home in an outfit you dislike – because your parents might not approve of what you want to wear? Girls, can you relate? I know, I can. While I am not going to place the blame entirely on my parents for behaving in a certain way, I would still say that they are contributing to this adversity as well.
I mean they are only preparing us to become the girls that boys seek, right? At least that’s what matrimonial ads have taught me. “Fair, cultured girl”, because writing “virgin” would be too explicit. Virgins. Ah, in the name of thou Holiest God, why is it problematic to Indian families, if a girl is doing what she wants to do with her body!
While keeping in mind that premarital sex is pretty much a taboo in Indian households, especially for girls, I think it is safe to say that it will take a lot of learning and unlearning to bring about a change. The first change would be to understand that sex is just a physical activity between consenting adults – irrespective of their gender. The very activity represents clarity and compassion, and it stands for nothing that it has been made out to be today. It is high time we stopped the “hush hush” about sex in our homes and speak loud and clear to our kids because they need it.
I understand the fear of unwanted pregnancies or STDs or undue advantage that plagues the minds of parents all the time. But what leads to this situation in the first place? It arises when our daughters are not fully informed or misinformed about their bodies. They deserve to know that their body solely belongs to them and they have to look after it. Sex education is an aspect that must begin at home as the first step towards normalising sex.
If you teach your daughters that they are fully accountable and responsible for their bodies, instead of shaming them when you find a condom wrapper in their bags or pockets, it will be easier for them to talk about things that they generally won’t. It is important to build a comfortable space for such conversations to take place. It is crucial for you to teach them that coercion into sex via emotional exploitation is wrong. It is important for you to inform them, that they won’t be deemed as “non-marriable” if they are sexually active.
It is crucial for them to identify any form of sexual abuse or behaviour that violates their consent. It is important for them to understand the concept of consent. It is important for you to tell them that getting married to someone does not mean they lose the right to consent. Teach your daughters about STDs and unwanted pregnancies that often end up traumatising several girls for life. Please talk to your girls about sex and the related issues. De-stigmatize this age-old stigma.
Modernisation is not just limited to letting your girls work out of your homes; it covers the uncovered “taboos” about sex as well. Period.