Why is talking about masturbation, a taboo in India?

Talking about sex is still by large a hush-hush topic in our country. With generations somehow, the silence around sex is expected to break as people are slowly becoming comfortable with sex in popular culture. Even though there’s a room for a lot of improvement, I am still okay with the fact that I can talk about my sex life with my friends and not be judged or looked at skeptically. However, an indisputable truth about the society’s openness is that it’s often farce and partial. ‘Solo’ sex or masturbation is a taboo and people have a tough time discussing about self-pleasure to the extent that they even disregard people who are open about it. You will either remain an outcast or an unbearable existence to them who hate accepting the fact that self-stimulation lets one learn about the body and find out what they like.

The stereotypes surrounding masturbation originate from many sources with an important one being various religious groups over ages, condemning the practice and subjecting it as sexual innuendo. Infact the western outlook towards masturbation was highly predisposed to the Jewish and Catholic Religions which termed it as a sinful act around 1975. Even the Church cornered the subject considering it had no reproductive role to play. It is one of the least studied subjects of human sexual behaviors. A lack of information about this ‘solitary’ experience has prevailed even though it is present throughout human history. This has not only remained one of the least understood or the least acknowledged arenas but has taken the form of a sexual behavior galloped by guilt and shame. Scientific minds no longer perceive masturbation in a negative manner or consider it an unsafe act, but a large section of the mass still think it is an immoral and shameful act and thus should be tucked away like a skeleton in the cupboard. Hence, masturbation till date remains the subject which should have brought people closer with the intention of education and information and has instead constructed ideological boundaries, fueling discomfort among people, specifically females. Not only people in general but women particularly have shown reluctance in admitting to self-pleasure or exploring their body because it has been assumed since ages that any sexual act by women which is not within the context of a socially acceptable “committed relationship” is ‘’unladylike’. Even the existence of an idea that such a sexual activity in which pleasure can be obtained in a solitary manner and could have possible health benefits too, has been refuted since the times when women were oppressed sexually, in literature and as beings. The number of the sex-positive educators is too small to turn the tables around.

The liberalization of sexual attitude requires gaining drive. This can be done by developing a basic understanding of sexual activities (school and home can play a greater role in the process of sensitization), breakthrough ways of addressing problems related to masturbation and its benefits, feasibility in reaching a wider audience for a better understanding of the proper use of sexual aids, encouraging on behalf of those who’ve been oppressed because of believing in sexual liberation, and by imbedding a scientific approach in people towards such sexual activities.

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