Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Update: Sexuality in Arranged Marriages

My last post was featured on the popular blog Indian Homemaker and I am so thankful I got a lot of responses! 

I realized a lot of it has to do with the collectivist mentality that is the default in Eastern cultures. Basically, the parents are so afraid that the child will get out of hand and marry someone totally different and then the lineage, traditions, and culture will be ruined! That is why they don't encourage girls to explore their sexuality because the girls are being bred for a certain type of marriage that is secure and stable in the family's and community's approval and blessing. 

One comment by really stood out to me, she mentioned her thoughts so eloquently that I cannot help but post her response here.She replied specifically to this part: 

“But in Indian arranged marriages, you have to decide in 1-3 meetings if you like each other or not (never mind getting to know each other-the elders think that can happen AFTER marriage!)
Never mind figuring out what TYPE of sexuality you have, how do you even know you HAVE a sex drive/sexuality if you are pushed into it like that after repressing it for that long? How many Indian couples are actually physically attracted to each other? There is no room for not being “sure” of your sexuality, it is assumed that you are straight and like men/or women even if you have never had a relationship before! Also what if you find out on your wedding night you are not attracted to your SO?”
And she replied: 

Well, the purpose of an arranged marriage is to bring in a woman who will fit into the man’s family and play her assigned role with gratitude – child bearer, cooks the family’s familiar meals, caregiver for the elders, satisfies the man’s sexual needs, accompanies him to social events, maintains the family’s traditions, does the family pujas and vrats, and has a proper transition plan for the incoming d-i-l who will take her place.
So, no one really cares if the husband and wife bond with each other. Because God forbid, if they did, they would start thinking about their own dreams and have their own vision for the kind of life they want to live together. Which doesn’t suit the clan one bit.
So all individual expression must be suppressed. Any laughter or friendship between husband and wife is frowned upon. Time spent together without others is disapproved of. If the husband is even a little bit romantic or caring (brings her a beautiful saree or tucks her hair behind her ear), he is labelled “hen-pecked” or a “joru ka gulaam”. How is sexual exploration even possible without laughter, without friendship, without romance, without bonding?
So the answer is no, they will not know what each other’s sexual desires or preferences are, or if they have compatible orientations. For the man, it is a hurried, hushed guilty pleasure that he will never explore fully. For the women, it can become a chore, a boring necessity, an obligation, due to socially conditioned repression and lack of sex education. For both, sex is an act that is required to produce kids. This is the absolute traditional Indian view of sex. Not Kama Sutra but how the everyday traditional Indian sees it.
It is possible that this is changing due to increasing awareness and experimentation and dating among young people, although we do not know the exact extent of this change. It might make an interesting study for social behaviorists.
What is your opinion? Any commentary or stories to add? Do you agree or disagree and why?

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