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Women in villages of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh talk to Lounge about navigating sexual desire and seeking pleasure amidst prejudices of gender, caste and class. The first time S had sex was with her husband, she was 17, her husband They had two children in the first five years of marriage. The sex was fine. Not great, but at least she was getting it. Then the husband started drinking, and drinking more. The relationship weakened, and the frequency of sex waned. He was inebriated most of the time, and hardly in the mood.
S wanted love, but she also wanted sex. You have two children now. Who is putting these thoughts in your head? Koi yaar hai kya? Do you have a lover? She continued working on their field, raising the children, tending the cattle, and selling milk. Her husband grew unwell. S felt a growing attraction to him. He was married as well. They fell in love. Sex happened. With her husband, sex had seemed like a task.
Now it was different. We spent hours in bed every time we did it. It felt like sex. She could tell him what she wanted in bed. He told her what he wanted. The villagers saw them giggling together; sometimes they were caught walking too close to one another. People started talking.
But the husband was bedridden. No one said anything. The gossip stopped—as if granting tacit approval to her need for physical satisfaction. She is now in a relationship with a different man, 14 years her junior. Mujhe zaroorat hai abhi…kya karun?
I have needs too. What am I to do? Sex is also an important part of our lives. It invigorates the mind, invigorates life. Even if some of us live in denial. Sex, sexuality, desire, sexual needs—particularly those of women—are not topics that make for easy conversation in a country that seems to believe in sexually regulating one half of its population more than the other.
Yet behind the closed doors of homes in the heart of our rural idyll lie undiscovered stories of female desire. The survey has a of findings. Compared to urban women, rural women have sex earlier in life urban women begin having sex almost two years later than rural women ; the frequency of sex is higher; and they have more sexual partners in their lifetime. While the of women we met for this story is hardly representative of how rural women navigate desire, we found, repeatedly amongst the women we talked to, a discernible openness around sexuality, and the acceptance of desire as a basic need.
Brinjals and belans. She tried to pleasure herself by inserting a stone pestle used to ground spices into her vagina. She confided in a neighbour, who immediately told others. The ladies have a host of ribald anecdotes. Another woman inserted a long green brinjal in her vagina, the stem broke off with the vegetable still inside her.
She had to be taken to hospital. The whole village came to know of it. But in this group, sympathies lie firmly with the women. Itni takleef hoti hai What is one to Fuck women The Villages when overcome with desire? A says the women of the village have age-old solutions to deal with ardour.
Conversations around ichchha desire are so normalized in these villages that people discuss what someone did, rather than why they did it. All of the following instances occurred in Maharashtra, in the past year. There is a story of a woman who left her husband because he worked at night, and expected her to make love during the day.
Another did not like her husband asking for anything other than peno-vaginal sex, so she publicly rebuked him, in front of her parents. In another case, a woman who had come to help her sister with childbirth, slept with her brother-in-law and became pregnant. Of course these relations could be both forced and consensual. Nirantar conducted a workshop for three years, beginningwhere they brought together four organizations and tried to explore how rural women in north India perceive sexuality.
One of their findings was that rural women are much more open about sexuality than urban women, despite differences across caste, class and religion. In one workshop, a group of rural women were asked to list sexual acts. Some 64 acts were listed, including fisting, inserting the penis in the armpit, or even something as simple as playing with the hair.
In Kokrud village in Sangli district, year-old B has earned a reputation among the other women in her village for being gutsy. B lives in a t family. Her husband, 11 years older than her, migrated to Mumbai within a month of their marriage. He visited twice a year, for four-five days at a time.
While the husband was away in Mumbai, his nephew, the same age as B, tried to force himself on her. She resisted. But the next time he tried it, she let him. Soon she was enjoying the sex. The nephew tried new things—things that felt unnatural with her husband. I thought he was an animal," says B.
Her husband is no more, but she still lives with his family, who know about her relationship with the nephew. They have been together for six years. The nephew is married now. Even if they have kids, the kids will have the same bloodline. Songs of separation. Male migration to the cities means the woman bears the sole responsibility for both family and domestic work. The desire and longing of the women left behind in the villages have long been a subject of both cinema and folk songs.
A folk song from eastern Uttar Pradesh goes like this: Ser gohunva baras din khaiban, baras din khaiban, Piya ke jaye na debayin ho Rakhaiben ankhiyan ke hajuravan, Piya ke jaye na debayin ho One seer of wheat I will eat for one year, but I will not allow my husband to go.
I will keep him before my eyes and will not let him go.
The newly-married woman turns to the devar for companionship. An academic paper, published inby Delhi University historian Charu Gupta established one reason why this might be: the wife chooses the devar because he is the only one in the household with whom she does not have a subservient relationship. Researchers have even found that village life, in some settings, allows for freedom from boundaries and definitions concerning sexuality.
Maya Sharma, a Vadodara-based feminist activist, found two women living together in a village. The people of the village referred to the couple as a miya-biwi-ki-jodi husband and wife couple. In instances where two women live together, some even admit, though not openly, to having physical relations. While such associations in rural India are often ignored or forgiven, there are cases where too many people find out, or when certain lines are crossed.
Punishment can then turn harsher than it would be in a city. Penalties include age-old forms of rural justice: parading women naked, or exiling them from their village. A group of six women sitting outside Kokrud village in Sangli district recall an incident from about seven months ago. In the village of Islampur, in Ratnagiri district, a widow was banned from entering her village.
It had been years since her husband died. When her belly became slightly protuberant, people started asking questions. Initially, she told people that she had a gaanth knot in her stomach and later stopped going out of the house. To keep the matter under wraps, she gave away her newborn to an orphanage.
Yet, the village did come to know of it. When the devar found out, he approached the panchayat. The devar insisted the woman should never set foot in the village again. The woman now lives with relatives in a nearby village; her teenage daughters live with her in-laws. A hierarchy of desire. It is inevitable that in a hierarchical society like India, the way sexuality is expressed by women is also dependent on the caste, religion, and class they belong to. Yet only some of these relationships find high caste sanction. For example, an upper-caste married man can have a physical relationship with a Dalit woman, but an unmarried upper-caste man cannot, because he could potentially marry her.
It also depicts the casualness with which village women talk about sex outside marriage. Yet, in a strange way, lower-caste women often have greater sexual agency than upper-caste women in the villages. Dalit women are forced by circumstance and occupation to be more mobile. They encounter more men on an everyday basis while working, and so the chances of them getting into relationships, physical or otherwise, are higher. Their men will always be around when you talk to them. Dirty talk. Hunger and sexual desire are universal, visceral, primal. Perhaps this is why hunger has long been used as a metaphor for sex across cultures.
These villages in the heart of India are no exception. On the day of a marriage, a tent is set up and women gather to perform behlaul. Two women sit back to back. Other women come and touch their breasts and other body parts; sometimes gesturing with a rolling pin belan. An older woman acts as husband while a younger one plays the wife. The role-playing goes on for about an hour, and the discussion can veer from subjects like pubic hair to the first night of marriage to detailed s of sex. Women sing about coveting lower-caste men and imagine them as their grooms.
That upsets men, because they think their women are questioning their virility. By the early 20th century, pulp fiction, semi-pornographic sex manuals, romances in colloquial Hindi, and Braj songs and poems were widely available in UP. Even today in markets in UP, you will easily find raunchy books, playing cards with images of sexual positions and naked women, and bioscopes with such photographs inserted between pictures of the Taj Mahal or Qutb Minar.
While women might have been reluctant to access such material out of fear of being seen, mobile phones have made things easier. Pornography is now downloaded online, or purchased from a kirana store by men. With hardly any access to sex education, navigating desire is a fraught enterprise. A lot of the women this reporter met spoke about watching porn after marriage mostly because their husbands wanted them to watch it along with them—as a way to legitimize desire. They watch desi porn, which they find easier to relate to and learn from.
She was 17 when she got married, and got divorced after seven years.Fuck women The Villages
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