Words by: Sanjiv Raveendiran Art by: Betty Gu
THE FOLK’S GIVEN
As people who had a rural upbringing in northern Sri Lanka and a low likelihood of tripping over a Playboy mag, my parents didn’t have the heightened attitudes, beliefs and experiences about sex that I have been endowed with.
I had prompted a discussion with my mother on the topic of sex a few months ago. I was curious to hear her take on the ever-contentious matter. I was looking to challenge my biases around what I thought her views would be.
I was surprised and glad to hear her say something along the lines of, ‘sex is great’ when done in a loving context, that quality was more important than quantity and, that it was ‘natural’.
My long overdue ‘talk’ with my mother ended with her sharing with me that sex wasn’t ‘everything’.
It registered… partially.
Growing up, my parents didn’t have much to say to me on the matter of sex. They didn’t explicitly prohibit it, but it was implied that sex was not to be ‘fucked with’.
Growing up in a family observing one of the stricter Hindu paths, my stance on sex before marriage was that ideally there wouldn’t be any sex before or outside marriage in my own life.
However, I’m left to navigate a whole different landscape of subtle and direct sexual programming. By a certain age, which seems to be younger and younger, if you’re not being perpetually sexy and having sex, it’s simply not cool! Get with the program! Hence, a well-meaning traditional approach only existed, in my experience, to generate shame. However, the promises made by any media around sex, is often elusive and disappointing. Too good to be true.
Through the work of sexologist, Alfred Kinsey and later, the magazine publisher Hugh Hefner, sex was set free in the mid twentieth Century. Porn went from carvings on ancient ruins, into magazines, then onto the internet in high-definition video and now VR. Despite this, we haven’t reached a utopia on earth and sex-related compulsions are being cited as one of the reasons for some relationships ending.
LA VERDIKTO (THE VERDICT)
I used to think that sex and religion couldn’t possibly be bedfellows. But it may turn out that they’ve successfully been in bed together for eons. Sex done well has been suggested as a way to lead a progressive spiritual lifestyle, by many ancient spiritual traditions.
Hence, I can begin to appreciate the principle of restraint around sex. It may help preserve the best it has to offer. If what sex has to offer is so great, why do we tend to tiptoe around it? Maybe what has been projected at humans by religion, as hard rules around sex, can be seen as merely guidelines or principles to help expand the scope sex has as a positive influence on our lives.