Have you ever noticed how society has this unnatural knack for suppressing perfectly natural urges? Take sex, for instance. An act so prevalent, so obvious and beautiful. And yet, labelled taboo.
Try buying a packet of sanitary napkins or condoms and there’s an unspoken rule of wrapping them up in some opaque layer, like a newspaper, before handing it over to a customer. That’s exactly the treatment you can expect if you broach the subject of sex.
It’s natural. You exist because of it. Everyone does it. But the only way you can ever talk about sex is if you wrap it up in socially acceptable layers of marriage, education, or love.
Basically, sex is LIKE A young Indian girl Who cannot leave her house without a male chaperone and has major deadline issues.
And what happens when this code of conduct is breached? Cue in the judgement!
I once had a friend, who survives on a steady intake of American rom-coms, crib to me about how the whole ‘pick up someone at the bar’ trend isn’t all that popular in India. Sure, you’ll come across the occasional creep giving it a try. But what are the chances of a guy like, say the well-suited Barney Stinson or a genuine Matthew McConnaughey from How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, buying you a drink? Better yet, what are the chances that if he does, you’re going to actually go home with him?
Because you know what comes after the drinking and the flirting, right? S-E-X!
And if sex is taboo, then sex on the first date or with someone you just met is a ‘frickin blasphemy’!
If you need proof about how severely judged ‘sex on the first date’ is, just look around. Our dating app bios have a “not here for hookups” clause in them. Bollywood movies are overflowing with sanskaari heroes who will ditch the girl who wears her sexuality on her sleeve and go for the coy, domesticated goddess. In fact, you know something is not a norm if even Hollywood movies regard it with a certain level of judgement.
But what takes the judgement a notch higher is when it’s the girl initiating the act as opposed to a guy.
Remember we talked about those socially acceptable layers that ‘sex’ must be wrapped up in? Well, the final layer is a classic patriarchy special and is called ‘gender’.
A man’s attitude towards sex is always taken for granted. “Men will be men. And men think about sex like all the time!” And hey, that’s perfectly normal, okay?
When I, a man, swipe right on your profile, and then text you a cheesy pick-up line for small talk, what I really want to ask is, “Your place or mine?” And I will, eventually, after a couple of dates. Or maybe on the first date itself. Basically, I can do anything, say anything, because that is expected of my gender and I am merely adhering to my gender role.
But if I, a girl, talk openly about my desires on text, meet you for drinks or coffee, and ask you to come up to my house on the first date itself, there must be something off about my character. Some chemical locha in the part of my brain that should be keeping my totally natural urges in check and helping me to play hard-to-get (laid). Because hello? Do you even have a Y chromosome to be able to do that?
Excuse me, but why? Why should a guy be patted on his back and proclaimed a ‘player’ for ‘getting some’ on the first date, but a girl, even if all she does is go with the flow, be judged for her choice? Sex is supposed to be an act between two consenting adults above the prescribed legal age. Should it matter if the connection sparks on the first date or the twelfth?
Why date and wait to reach the stage of ‘Netflix and Chill’ when you really want to just ‘First date and Chill’?
Now let’s talk science. Psychology tells us that while men initiating sex on the first date are merely acting upon their attraction, women would rather not do so because they’re looking for a lasting love connection instead. So far, so good, right? Yeah… not so much.
When men are asked what they think about the women who slept with them on the first date, their responses reek of judgement. Some of them are okay with it and would love it if such an instant connection led to something. But quite a lot of them said they would probably look at the girl differently after. Some even went on to say that if they really liked the girl, they would want to take their time to know her and not ruin their chances with her by suggesting sex so early on.
Women, the intuitive know-it-alls that they are, have already figured this out. Which is why you’ll find a majority of them being careful about expressing the true extent of their attraction on the first date. Another reason they would refrain from giving it up on Date 1 is probably because sex releases the hormone ‘Oxytocin’, also called the ‘love hormone’; not exactly the emotion you’d want clouding your opinions when you’ve only just met the guy!
So where does that leave us exactly? Do we or do we not?
Well, here’s the thing. We live in a society that still sets store by its archaic customs. But things are changing. Maybe not as quickly as we hope they would, but thank heavens, they are. And while it’s going to take some time to completely peel of the existing layers and make sex completely “not taboo”, the best we can do is reduce the opacity of the layer of gender bias that degrades women for being equally sexual beings as men.
It shouldn’t matter if there’s no second date. It shouldn’t matter who initiates it. It should be okay if it’s a one-off thing or happens again and again. What should matter is consent and mutual respect.
And of course, don’t forget that protection!