Asexuality in the Indian context
In a country that cringes at the mention of sex, where sexuality is a topic that if even slightly uttered would lead to a breakout of pandemonium in households, being an asexual should rather be a piece of cake! After all, as some would say, our culture doesn’t advocate sexual expression. Where sexual pleasure is considered a taboo and sex relegated to the sole purpose of reproduction, it would make sense to say that Indian Aces lead a pretty comfortable life, squishing the need to talk about asexuality in India and the very purpose of this website. Yet, it is not as simple as that.
As the Indian youth tumbles into the marriageable age, that’s when the ‘real fun’ begins. Getting married is an extremely important milestone for Indians, both men and women and the thought of not wanting to be married or not starting a family can be as scandalous as talking about sex. What is marriage anyway and why do asexuals feel uncomfortable under the pressure to be married? Marriage is a social institution, a structure within which sexual expression is considered legitimate and important. The institution of marriage functions on the very assumption that all humans are sexual beings leading to the condition that a marriage can be valid only if it has been consummated. Marriage enables you to have a family, another structure that Indian traditions and culture considers obligatory for everyone to create. While marriage can give you a lot of legal and social security perks, the validation of marriage by sex can be highly problematic for an Asexual. The added pressure that Indian culture requires you to be married leaves an asexual in a hopeless position, unable to explain that he or she is not interested in marriage or sex and that it is absolutely okay to be that way.
While sex is still a taboo in India, it still seems to be everywhere, disguised in undertones fuelled by the misconstrued assumption that humans are sexual and if not, then it is problem. Take Indian law for example. All Personal Laws in India, whether the Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Parsi law consider marriage invalid if it has not been consummated and can be used as grounds for divorce. Apart from these Personal Laws, even the Special Marriage Act of India has the provision of Restitution of Conjugal Rights where each partner in marriage can claim the right to sexual relations. Indian media is not far behind. I’m sure the Wildstone deodorant and Amul Macho advertisements are etched in our memories. The women portrayed as objects of sexual pleasure and the men, the epitome of hyper masculinity, who devour sexual pleasure. Indian movies are no less, where the plot is often considered incomplete without a steamy depiction of human passion.
If you were a child of the post millennial era, things would have not gotten any easier for you. This generation would find itself in the phase of sexual experimentation during adolescence itself. Considering you were an urban middle class fourteen year old attending a well reputed school, there would have been the pressure to have a boyfriend/girlfriend, discuss your respective crushes as well as how far you had gone with them in terms of physical intimacy. All this of course would happen behind your parents back. And once college days begin, this pressure doubles, with dance parties no longer being just dance parties, but an excuse and reason to get laid. Need I remind you that if you are not interested in any of this, people begin to notice and wonder what could be the reason behind this oddity.
In India psychologists and sexologists are still adamant on medicalising asexuality as a biological deficiency and a naturally impossible phenomenon. They have cited various reasons for asexuality. While some say that asexuality could be caused because of a genetic pre-disposition, others claim that low sex hormones or libido is the cause behind it. Indian doctors with such theories completely discount the fact that people with a high libido who experience adequate arousal can still be asexual simply because there is no desire to act on that arousal. Such theories add to the stigma around asexuality and are a hindrance to come out and talk about it.
Every Ace is different and each Ace experience unique. To capture this uniqueness check out our next section on Asexual Narratives.