Monday, December 16, 2013

Are Indian Women Racy in Sex?

In its current issue, ‘India Today’ has published a survey report as usual on male-female sexuality in urban places of India. Some of my  friends messaged me to know my response. Here, it is:

In comparison to Sex Survey by “India Today” in 2003, this survey results of 2013 seem to indicate Indian women seem to be more in controlled and expressing their needs in their sex lives.  But are the numbers really accurate?
Let’s look at the results:

  If these results were true, it would be good enough to think that women’s body has been reached under women’s right. But does the ground reality show such conclusion?

This survey seems to be based on totally prejudiced sexist bias ideas inspired with the sex surveys of   some survey agencies earlier in the West.  Women have barely figured in it, the survey might be done with urban ladies who performed roles generally reserved for men. In India, still arranged marriages have a preferred social recognition.  Marital rapes in such arranged marriages are very common phenomena.  Ironically, the survey remained silent about the marital rapes occurred in India. They did not include any question on such rapes in their survey. The survey did not open how many of its married respondents are coming with love marriage or arranged marriage.

What is the motto of such surveys? I think, the underlying motive is only to help the patriarchal conspiracy to subjugate women. These are all money matters. Not ‘men’ but the ‘economy’ and ‘industries’ are now finding a new market among women to perceive their sexual desire.  The ‘consciousness about women’s sexual desire’ began when Procter & Gamble tried to win FDA approval for its female testosterone patch, which the company claimed could help women boost their sexual desire. Ironically, it has been proven by scientists that no single measurement of androgen hormones, like testosterone, can predict low desire. Some women with low testosterone levels did not have low desire, while some women with normal levels did.

Even the media are used by the commercial houses to subjugate women to make them pornified so that they could be utilised for income. Channel 4, one of UK’s popular TV broadcaster, in its programme “Embarrassing Bodies,” encourages the female viewers to soothe insecurity about common bodily issues, refers a woman to a cosmetic surgeon to have her perfectly healthy labia sliced off. Commercial cosmetics business houses try to propagate that such cosmetic FGM is safe reporting 71 percent of women having the procedures report an ‘improved sex life’ and 23 percent report they could reach orgasm more easily after obtaining such operations. But these claims are possibly advertising/marketing-based and cannot always be substantiated. Thus BJOG, an international journal of obstetrics and gynecology has denied these claims in a report published in its 1st issue of Volume 117. Experts (L. M. Liao, L. Michala, and S.M. Creighton) write:

“This review has identified almost 1,000 published cases of cosmetic labial surgery. Because the majority of such procedures are performed in the private sector, here audit and publication are not required, and because advertisement, especially via the Internet, is widespread, these figures are likely to represent the tip of the iceberg. No prospective studies were found. Follow-up was not carried out for most studies and, where available, it was of short duration with unspecified or suspect methodology. There was no attempt to compare preoperative morphological measurements with published criteria to assess the need for intervention. Surgery appeared to have been offered on demand, justified by verbal reports of physical and psychological difficulties.”

Sexual problems of women have not received adequate attention from the researchers. Worldwide, female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a highly prevalent problem for 38%-63% of women.  Very few researches have been made clinically on sexual frigidity of women in India. And yet, according to a recent study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, nearly half of all women who participated in the studies suffer from some sexual problem; many suffered from more than one. And it has now been proven that orgasm is not experienced by most women either in the West or in the East. Curiously, very few activists have come forward to proclaim that right for women. And it appears most medical researchers and funders of this research are also not in the mood to spend too much money trying to figure out why some women are sexually unhappy. But the surveys by India Today shows only 2.3 % of female respondents admit about their sexual unhappy lives. What a silly nonsense result!

I believe women are still living in denial of their sexual desire. Most women seldom discuss sex with their doctors. They even think not being able to experience orgasm during sexual intimacy is a normal occurrence. Indian society still has not been removed its taboo on sex and most of the women  are totally molded by patriarchal conspiracy where male sexuality is termed as ‘active’ while female sexuality is ‘passive.’ Here, I don’t think the situation in the West differs much from that of the East. It seems throughout the world, the sexual instinct of females is routinely suppressed. Those who find so much sexual positivism among Indian women might have selected a fixed specialized domain and this domain can’t be termed to represent Indian women any more.


  1. Yes....our society is still embroiled with taboos on sex and most of the Indian women are molded by our age old patriarchal mentality where male sexuality is termed as ‘active’ whereas female sexuality is termed as ‘passive"..............we hv to broaden our mindset.

  2. A nice write up indeed !!!
    The respondents are from urban areas and are educated and well-placed. So, the survey result well reflects the transformation that’s happening among the urban, educated (enlightened?) and may be elite women class. It doesn’t reflect the views and behaviour of the Indian women in general for sure.
    Your descriptions on patriarchal conspiracy to subjugate women and the role of men, media, industry is well-explained with logical substance.
    About the issue of low percentage of women admitting about their sexual unhappy lives, considering the urban respondents, they are now more aware about their sexuality and may be more open to solve these problems unlike their rural, uneducated, conservative counterparts. Or they withstand the subjugation of patriarchy on this. Again it may be an issue that women respondents might have felt uncomfortable to share their unhappy sex lives with the researcher and hence, the low percentage. In the later case your argument on high percentage of women suffering from sexual problems holds true.
    One thing I would rather point out on the survey report which probably you missed to mention- the reversal trend on men/women sexuality. As the report suggests, women’s sexuality is getting more controlled and they express their needs in their sex lives. But on contrary men are heading towards a neo-traditionalism and are more focused towards family and other issues. You are in a better position to tell how true and reliable these study reports are, but if it actually reflects our women class howsoever small, cant we say, they are in a better position in having a controlled sexuality? Thank you Maam !

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  3. Jaya Kamlani, USA8:12 PM

    Dear Sarojini,

    Female sexual desires are suppressed in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia (including India). It is sad how women of Africa have to suffer from genital mutilation (FGM) and forever thereafter they suffer from discomfort and diseases.
    I don't understand why men think they are so hot and powerful. We women of the world need to come together and speak up this time, especially in the light of all the rapes that have come to light in India. On my FB wall, I did post something on Jyoti Singh Pandey's rape & death anniversary. I have received many comments, including from a member of the One Billion Rising from the African community.
    We shall take it no more from men. There are many men who are standing by us this time. Why don't men understand when women say "NO" it means "NO"? Why do they force themselves on women? It is because their self-esteem is so small, they are trying to regain their power by empowering women. I am so disgusted by how women are treated not just in India, but all over the world.
    If women can rise, imagine how far they can go. Having control of who they want to have sex with is an important part of it, provided they don't use their sex to get ahead in life, which some women have been known to do.

    Jaya Kamlani, USA - Author of "To India, with Tough Love"

  4. Excellent findings dear Dr. Sarojini! The survey seems to be a flop since very few women disclose such things in our country. Only very negligible number of women in metros was subjected to this survey, it seems. I do fully support your view that "women are still living in denial of their sexual desire."

  5. The survey is prejudiced and restricted to a particular populace. I appreciate Dr Sarojini Sahoo to offer voice to such issues. these need vocal support from intelligentsia.

  6. Yes I agree with your skepticism about this survey, sex is universal taboo, I don’t think that in Europe which is an open society women can talk about their sexual desire in detail. In our region where in rural area in particular girls are not allowed to talk about like or dislike their marriages, it is unlikely that women are able to talk their sexual feelings in detail and large numbers as shown in this survey. Sex is for men only were a popular phrase but it is in practice even today. In past it was widely believe that women don’t have sexual desire.
    By measuring of androgen hormones or level of testosterone we can’t measure the level of sexual desire, which is like an appetite which reduces in stressed or in sadness. But without food or water we can’t live but a human can breathe without fulfilling sexual desire what quality of life it will be one can imagine.
    I don’t think majority of educated people are familiar with the term Marital rapes you have used, because they still believe the phrase “Sex is for men”.
    How we can persuade people to take interest in this taboo legitimate desire of overwhelming majority of women, it require thoughtful endeavor.
    आज हम दार पे खेंचे गए जिन बातों पर
    किया अजब कल वोह ज़माने को निसाबों में मिलें
    ऎहमद फ़राज़
    آج ہم دار پہ کھینچے گئے جِن باتوں پر
    کیا عجب کل وہ زمانے کو نصابوں میں ملیں
    احمد فراز

  7. आपके विचारों से सहमति है।