The house was full of flowers and was shimmering with bright lights. She was decked up in a heavy lehenga, full makeup, and pieces of jewellery, but in all this brightness what made her smile deaden was the whispers about her “first night.”
While some suggested preparing for it, others were giggling about the change this one night going to bring in her life. She was wondering what it meant, “the first night”. And for what? For having a sex? Or for testing her virginity?
In orthodox conservative societies, virginity is very important. It is held as a parameter for judging character, especially when you are a woman, because that will be the gift you give to your husband on “the first night”. Society sees sex as an activity, especially for women, that should be practised only in terms of service to the husband. It propagates more of it as a duty rather than as an expression of emotion, or for pleasure, or for love.
This reflects the double standard of the society where sex is the right of husband, it is the duty for wife. On the one hand you are told to keep yourself wrapped up, and on the other hand, on the very first night after marriage, you are expected to unclothe yourself, and let your husband enjoy his ‘right’ over your body. It is a patriarchal notion that the person you have married owns the right to have sex with you. This automatically converts an expression of love to a “sex duty”, under which the concept of consent no longer applies. It is assumed that once you are married there is no need to take consent from your wife, because it is an activity which every married woman needs to perform irrespective of whether she wants to or not. Sex is not considered as a pleasurable activity for women. Instead, their bodies are used as a means for a man’s sexual pleasure. They are deprived of their right over their body.
Does marriage entail any consent for sex? Does marriage give the right of penetrating a wife in the name of love? Or to better put it, does it gives the license of having sex as and when you feel the appetite for it, without waiting for the consent of wife?