More than often, Indians shy away from talking about sex and even in the 21st century it is considered as taboo not just in the subcontinent but across the world. But, why is that so? Perhaps because people seldom assume that sex or rather sexual pleasure is synonymous with penetration and shame. But, Seema Anand, a sexual health educator, mythologist and author has been trying to break these preconceived notions one story at a time via the internet.
Seema who very popularly has prolonged disquisitions about the Kama Sutra and sexual health through her famous reels on Instagram and is also a very celebrated name in the field of Eastern Erotology sat down for an exclusive chat with News18 right after her wonderful talk at the TEDXGatewaySalon 2022.
What are some of the myths that you would like to burst when it comes to sexual health?
So, I think the first thing is this whole idea of what sex is supposed to do to a woman’s body for instance a lot of people say that if a woman has sex, she’ll start looking older. If she has sex, her hip size will become larger. If she has sex, she will start walking differently. You know, all of these myths about when if a woman has sex her vagina will become loose. I think that there’s just so much misinformation. I mean, you name it, there is something wrong out there for every positive thing, there is a negative story or a very positive story. So I think that even if we can begin with the first thing, it is not a bad thing. That is the first thing I want to start with that, you know, this idea of demonising intimacy or demonising using pleasure, but it is not a bad thing. It’s perfectly natural, the feelings are natural, they come to all of us, and we need to stop saying that this is a bad thing. Even if we can accomplish that, you know, I would feel that, like, we have achieved something.
Over time, and again, you have spoken about how seduction is an art. Can you please elaborate on that a little more?
So basically, you know, in ancient India, we believed that pleasure was very, very important. And that it was ‘Shakti’, a form of energy. And it was to elevate your senses, it was to elevate your consciousness. And because of that, they said that you know, if you are going to enjoy something for your entire life, imagine if you had sex every day, or every week, in exactly the same way. It’s exactly the same, you turn off the light, wash off your makeup, get into one position, you do good at it, and you’re finished, after a little while, that’s going to become monotonous, boring, and after a while, it becomes almost like a heavy duty.
It is like there is no measure left and it almost becomes a duty. If you are going to enjoy it, you have to do something different. I don’t even know if I’m making sense when I say that- but the idea was that pleasure has to be elevated. So you know, you start with the most basic animalistic pleasure, and then you elevate it, you make it higher and higher. And with that, there comes elegance and refinement. And so these were things that were taught to you. Okay, gradually and slowly.
So the Kama Sutra talks about foreplay, and I love the idea of what it says about foreplay. You know, what are the things that have to be done in foreplay, normally start with telling each other stories. Okay, so you change the energy of the mind, you change the mood because you tell each other either something that’s naughty or something that makes them laugh or something gossipy. So you change the mindset.
So whatever you’re carrying the baggage of the day, you get rid of that. Then it says that all men were supposed to have a ‘veena’ in their room because they were supposed to play music for them. Okay, that’s foreplay. A man used would have to make a portrait of his beloved, that was about foreplay because when you’re drawing your partner, imagine the amount of time that you spend looking at them one on one, the attention. So yes, to me, too, I guess to this day, in the texts in ancient times, the idea of seduction was an elevation of the senses and it was something that is basically something that raised your passions, and your mind and your abilities. Okay, and your energies.
There is a certain way in which the Western world conceives the Kama Sutra. What are your thoughts on that? And how important do you think Kama Sutra is in today’s day and age?
So not just the Western world, but even the Indians too misunderstand Kama Sutra in a way that is not really applicable to it because it has never been taught to us. It has never been talked about. Sutra is written in seven sections, it was written to teach men how to live the perfect life. So it is all about how to build your house, how to keep your backyard, how to, you know, I mean, there are so many things that come into it, how to find the ideal wife how to get married, the ideal person, there are just all sorts of things that the council talks about.
The section on intimacy is one of the seven sections. Okay, we know nothing of any of that was written. You know, it is a text which is written in metaphors. So, if it is written in metaphor, it is not straight out, it is not something you can just read and understand. Nevertheless, I think it is very important.
Women are mostly criticised for talking out loud about their desires and wants, what do you have to say about that? And how can we change the narrative?
So it’s very much about control. Because if, you know, as you said, women are criticised for talking about it. I also find the interesting thing is that people criticise the idea of talking. But pleasure. If you talk about sex, if you talk about dirty jokes, nobody shows much boredom. They forward such jokes on WhatsApp, people are happy to talk about it. It’s only if you talk about it in a nice way, in a civilised way. And if you talk about the beauty of pleasure, that is what makes people uncomfortable.
And I think that, again, it is about control that this is like the last frontier if women stuff, you know, you know what happened when women started working and earning how much fighting goes on.
I have heard people I went to school with you know, my contemporaries saying, My son has got married and he’s told his wife, she can do anything, only two boys, she can’t work. She’s not allowed to work. And these are my contemporaries. And I’m horrified that you know, so it’s about controlling the person and this is the last frontier, you know, women are now started flying planes. That was I read this story. I remember in a magazine about this film star in Hollywood, discovered that the pilot was female. And he walked off the plane and said, I’m not going because the pilot is a woman. Okay, so now women have become astronauts and pilots and they are earning. They are doing everything. So it is just about you know, it is just one of those things. It is an old story, which is sticking. With time it will be fine, but it takes time to unsee the story.
How important is sex education and what can we do to implement it?
I think sex education is essential. And I think that again, this is something that I say very often in sex education in most people’s heads ‘how does one have sex.’ And I think that the first thing that we need to answer when it does happen, it’s literally about one body part meeting another body part. But people need to understand that sex, or any kind of intimacy is about emotions. It is about how you are going to feel and how your body will react to those feelings. Forget about touching the other person. If you look at somebody, you are going to feel a certain way and your body will have a reaction too.
Now you might wonder if it is going to be correct. What do you do about it? It is normal to think about how you need to deal with it. That is what sex education is. That is what it should be. We are not teaching people to have sex. Rather, we want to explain to them that when they feel like that, instead of crying out again, something is wrong with them, they actually understand what to do.
Lastly, there is a constant growth in conservative politics and emphasis on conservatism across societies in the world. Where do you see yourself as well as your work in that context?
That is a difficult question to ask. I think that politics is always going to be politics. I think for me as I said, you know, and I’ve always said this, that I talk about pleasure, not about sex. I’m not even saying that you should go out and do certain things. I just want people to understand what they feel, how they feel it and that it’s normal. So I think that it’s about empowering you to find your own voice. And to be able to understand that whatever is happening out there or whatever is happening in your head is normal. It’s not a bad thing.
And that’s the only thing that I feel that if I can actually help people to understand their own normalcy, that’s good enough for me, because, you know, whatever is happening in the wider world is far to go to fight. I mean, I can’t I cannot go out and sort of, and I don’t want to tell people how they should implement their sex lives. That’s not for me to say, oh, it’s totally a person’s decision. Even when it comes to people who say I’m asexual, you can be asexual, maybe nobody turns you on.
Maybe you don’t want to have sex with anybody. We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about sensuality, we’re talking about the senses. We’re talking about how you feel inside you.
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