Sex in India is still not openly discussed, not even in urban metropolitan cities. There exists a cultural taboo in accepting it as a natural act, at least until after marriage, which results in general ignorance and fallacies on the subject. There is a lot more to sex than the act itself, and to educate ourselves on it is crucial; porn websites alone cannot serve as a medium on sex education.
The importance of using protection and the types of protection available is an important component of sex education and something which very few equip themselves with knowledge of. If our staggeringly high population is not testimony enough, there’s plenty of data available that supports the statement. The data as released by the Health Ministry shows that the sale in condoms has fallen by almost 35 percent, while those of emergency contraceptive pills and abortions have approximately doubled in recent years. The usage of a condom guarantees protection 98 percent of the time. It is safe, non-toxic, and has a pretty good success rate. However, its sales have only dropped, which makes little sense considering it’s a very viable option to protect oneself from unwanted pregnancy and/or diseases, while the sales of abortion pills and emergency contraceptive pills continue to increase.
The current statistics underlines a more serious concern- Indian men are simply refusing to use birth control methods!
Condoms despite being the safest and best option available today when it comes to protection, is not being used by Indian men. Instead we are relying on contraceptive pills for women which can be dangerous and leave some long-lasting impacts. The I-pill or the emergency contraceptive pill is a popular option among contraceptives. The I-pill is most definitely a great option, but in no way is it meant to be a person’s regular choice of contraception. It is meant to be an emergency pill that is used in an emergency only. The regular consumption of contraceptive pills leads to several side-effects which can be long term in nature, including infertility.
“It’s not the same, you know”
“Using a condom spoils my mood.”
“Why can’t you just pop a pill later”
“Trust me, I will pull it out.”
These are just some common excuses that men use to justify their reluctance in practicing safe sex with a condom. Most of these ideas are baseless myths going around for ages, only to ensure that at the end of the day men enjoy more rights than women even when it comes to their bodies and sex.
Why does the onus of protection and birth control fall on the women only?
Reports show that a woman dies of a failed abortion every two hours in India. A majority of the abortions that are performed are done secretly at home and often comes at the cost of the woman’s life. Shame, fear, financial constraints, are a few of the reasons which force women to go through with an abortion without a doctor’s supervision, and for the unmarried women who do choose to get the abortion under the supervision of a doctor, they are most often met with condemnation and judgment from the doctors and nurses who treat them.
Several studies and reports reveal that most men prefer to not use a condom as it apparently reduces the man’s pleasure,. This is age-old propaganda that using a condom reduces pleasure, when in fact many condoms these days have extra features to actually make sex better, apart from safeguarding against STDs and unintended pregnancy.
With all this information floating around freely, it is surprising that condoms are not the first choice of protection for Indian men.
It is also interesting to know that most households consider condoms “dirty” and refuse to see it as an option for protection. For many families in India, especially rural India, family planning often ends with a woman performing a tubectomy; a surgery which robs her of her womanhood and makes her barren, and can also have permanent long-term effects. A surgery that is akin to a tubectomy that is performed on men instead, is called a vasectomy. A vasectomy is by and large a much better option, than the sterilization of a female. It offers a better success rate, faster recovery time, and is even cheaper. And yet, this is not the go-to option amongst most families. The statistics read that the number of women performing tubectomies stands at 74% while men performing vasectomies are 2.3%. That’s a significant gap, considering that the latter surgery is safer, but this procedure comes with the belief that a man loses his manhood if he sterilizes himself, and that is not where most families are willing to compromise on. The gamble on a woman’s body is a better price to pay than the cost of a man’s ego about his manhood.
The responsibility of practising safe sex, the responsibility of procreation, and the responsibility of sterilization, all fall on the women’s shoulders. There is a careless casual culture we have developed where men take it for granted that if a woman gets pregnant, she will “take care of it”. There is no consideration of the many side effects and problems that come with emergency contraceptive pills or with performing an abortion, and the emotional trauma it brings with it. And all of this for what? So a man can enjoy unbridled pleasure? How many women are experiencing pleasure? Is the whole act only for the benefit of men?
A woman’s body is not an instrument, and we need to inculcate that into our culture. A woman has every right to her “womanhood”, as much as a man does to his “manhood”. We are living in the 21st century and consider ourselves modern and progressive, yet the data and figures always tell us a different story. If it is believed that a man loses his manhood with sterilization, the same should apply to a woman who is made barren or infertile. Sterilization, in any case, should not be construed as robbing anyone of their femininity or masculinity, but rather as part of a family plan where both the mother and the father make a fair and equitable decision on whom the surgery must be performed on, if required.
Every other day, I hear men joke about how women always want more, and that they already have enough equality. If that was the case, why are the statistics and data in every possible domain in favour of men rather than women? Why are abortion laws made with no regards to the female body whatsoever? The United States of America is in a crisis with the ridiculous laws on abortion that are being passed in some of its states. Patriarchy continues to reign true, whether it is in developed countries or in developing countries ̶ it’s all the same, there are men making the decisions for a woman’s body. When will men take up more responsibility for sex and stop seeing it as only a pleasurable act? When will we educate people to practice safety first and further encourage and highlight the use of condoms ? When will we empower our women with discussions on sex and their freedoms in relation to it? When will we teach our boys and men that condoms are an absolute necessity, even if it is at the cost of assumed bridled pleasure?
Author: Camilla Lyndem
Camilla Ann Lyndem is a Staff Writer. Based in Bengaluru, she is a graduate of St.Stephen’s College, Delhi, where she completed her Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree in English Literature.Although a hardcore liberal arts student, she enjoys coding and has worked on building smart models, including a smart irrigation system (take that, CS students).