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From ‘I wish I knew!’ to ‘Is it right to tell them this?’

A watercolour image of a woman

I wish my elders had told me about more than just bleeding when they talked about menstruation. I wish they had told me about sex, at an appropriate time. Because the way my friend described it to me in 11th grade sounded so yuck. Today, I’m 36 and sometimes in my head, it still triggers the muck!

I wish my elders had spoken about homosexual relationships. I wish they had talked about love and not just about filmy romance. I wish we had learnt that bodies are just that, bodies. With more similarities than differences. I wish they had emphasised the heart, the warmth and the comfort more than the penis and the vagina.

I wish they called a dick, a dick, and a pussy, a pussy!

I wish they called it the penis and vagina,

rather than calling it an eel and a cave.

You see, I was raised as a plain Jane,

and my brother, the next-door Dave.

But then life happened. I grew up raging, hormones, and all. My exposure to sexuality, arousal, and attraction began. I didn’t even know these terms back then. I did not know how to process my feelings towards any gender whatsoever. I was 23 when I heard from a batchmate that one of our friends had come out as lesbian in the US. And I remember shrugging it off. It didn’t matter. My batchmate though, was clearly upset. She took my shrug as validation, freaked out that maybe I was ‘a lesbo’ too.

Do you see what happened there? It took us 23 years to figure out that there existed a concept around a person’s sexual orientation which had been alien to us. True, this was early-2007. I wonder how different it is today.

When I was 19, I met with an accident in which my outer labia sustained bruising. My mom took me to the doctor who said we needed to file a police complaint because who knew if I had met with an accident or if I had been abused. Well, I don’t blame the doctor, I’m sure she had medico-legal reasons. But I wonder if she could have been more sensitive to me. This became more obvious when I met with another accident at 28, and this time my elbow was broken. The doctors on duty treated me like a precious child. While it could be just about the person who attended to me, sometimes I wonder if at 19, my bruised genitalia deserved any less sensitivity than my broken arm, at the age of 28.

As a not-so-young adult, I was very stressed. Life happens, right? I missed a period because of stress. I was sexually inactive, inexperienced. I thought a doctor in Delhi would be better than one in a tier-three city. I went to a well-known one for consultation. She treated me like a potato sack,  she would not conduct an internal examination  because I was ‘a virgin’.

The point I’m driving home is this: As a 36 year old, I still see my friends communicating in the same way about sex and sexuality with their kids as our mothers did – either providing them half-baked information, or none at all. Maybe our mothers were less aware and empowered than women my age are now. Well, these are women who work as professionals in NGOs, HR teams, tech, and medicine. These are well-educated, aware, intelligent, and smart women.

As a generation that is more sensitive and identifies and calls out bullying, specially towards queer young people, they have my respect. They have my respect for the simplicity and ease with which they accept hookups, romance, love affairs, flings, and a wider gamut of relationships, beyond cis-hetero marriage or live-in partnerships. This a generation which has both access to information, and the ability to rally for causes. Whether it’s slut walk, pride march, poetry fests about body and sexuality, or intersectional understanding of race-body-gender-sexuality and identity politics, this generation is inspirational. They may not be perfect but they are young, energetic, empathetic, and they have promise. My question to myself is: What can I do to empower them more?

Cover Image: Pixabay

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