India beats back against age-old taboos with a fresh perspective on sex toys
The Hush Post|5:58 pm| three-minute-read|
Despite being world-renowned for ancient sexual techniques like tantra and the Kamasutra,
India has undergone centuries of sexual repression and general confusion about where indeed their sexuality now lies.
Where women were once the highly respected and revered matriarchs of the home and social realm, they have since taken a backseat to their own positions in the household, as well as in the community. Sex has very much become shrouded in mystery and taboo. Making it difficult for anyone to easily suss out their place in this world. From centuries of ongoing oppression, this fall from grace has been passed down through generations, negatively affect both men and women throughout their sexual development. That is until now.
Largely thanks to the internet, adult lifestyle products and sex toys in India have become more readily available. “We are very lucky to be living in this digital age” spokesperson from one of India’s top adult toy and supply retailers, Adult Products India, says. “While it was almost as difficult and embarrassing to get a dildo as it was to even talk about sex, we’re now met with the age of information. You can easily gain access to many adult products, as well as ask questions about them, which serves to make everyone more comfortable.”
Adult Products India hopes that with this newfound comfort, will come a change that has been years in the making. Something that will break the chains of taboo and colonial culture.
A Troubled Past
“One of the things that [Indians] struggle with is that- in fact- this prudish and puritanical culture is not actually our culture.” They say.
Vedic India pioneered the use of art, sculpture, and literature as early sexual educative guides. While the oldest teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism do indeed hope up the views that sex is meant for the marital bed, and should be considered a deeply private affair, they still very much understood how important sexual expression was.
Around 500 BCE, the Kama Sutra was written. A text that described human desire, pleasure, and how to explore sensuality within a marriage. These teachings suggested that sex was sacred and important. That pleasure should not be synonymous with shame, but instead with love.
During the late 1800s, India became under the colonial rule of Britain, and the nation’s leaders were convinced to “reform” the Indian ways of life. Promoting a puritanical attitude towards sex and marriage. Placing a tight lid on sexual education, conversation, and freedom. It is through these constraints that some believe the prude and patriarchal society became the norm, leading the country to the contemporary problems they now face.
The New Dialogue
Despite a chequered, and sometimes wholly confusing past, India seems resolute on changing the narrative. With an influx of freer sexual attitudes from the west, compounded with easily accessible information of the web, Indians are letting their curiosity show. Even if it is just on anonymous forums.
An influx in the availability of information about sex toys, pornography, and different sexual
orientations have given many a safe harbor that they haven’t known before. An article from the Economic Times suggests that in a survey of over 500 Indians, 60% admitted to having no form of sexual education in school. Only 3.2% of those surveyed said they were able to learn about sex from their parents, while a staggering 41% said they had to get it from outside sources.
While friends, older siblings, and the internet at large can all be excellent resources for all sorts of wild and wonderful taboo knowledge, what they generally fail to leave out are things like acceptance and safety.
“We have more people looking for advice in some very questionable places, which can result in some pretty hazardous outcomes,” Adult Products India says. While the site themselves have 24/7 customer service representatives standing by for any questions their consumers might have, they say “masturbation, toys, sexual positions, homosexuality… there is not always a safe place for these people to get genuine information from, and it shows.”
Which can easily spell disaster for everyone “If someone does not have a guide to show them how to intact with the world in a loving way, [people] tend to react poorly. We are most often angry or scared when we are fearful of an unknown. Sexuality is no different in that way.”
Changing a Generation
Besides crashing down taboos and ages of oppression, the developing sexual conversation is addressing another growing public concern: Sexual wellness and mental health. Where in India,
it can be a dangerous thing indeed to have alt-sexuality.
Studies have even suggested that encouraging “an open dialogue about sexual matters” can help curb some of the more disturbing practices, like incest, sex trafficking, and alt-sexuality shaming. “Because of this deep-seated fear we are giving about sexual conversations… We grow up and in school, we are separated. Girls with girls, and boys with boys. Which makes sexual development very difficult.”
Numbers don’t lie, and India’s population seems to be buying more sex toys than ever, which give people hope that things are indeed changing.