STD Awareness Week: Sex, Shame and Judgement
As the great Marilyn Monroe once said, “Sex is nature, and I believe in going along with nature.”
In history and mythology, desire has played a key role towards cultural advancements. Human beings have evolved in such a way that they are on a constant lookout for a mate with whom they could copulate and reproduce. This is only natural for the continuity of life.
Sex was talked about very openly in the past and the earliest written manuscripts describing sex have been found in the Vedas. The sixty four art-passion-pleasure, the Kama Sutra, as we all know, is an Indian creation. Yet somehow through the annals of time, we have become regressive in our outlook towards this very basic human need; more so than other cultures at times.
Sex has been clouded by equating it with immorality and as a consequence restricted religiously. As some anthropologists believe, this may have happened perhaps because sex reminds man of his instinctual animalistic nature, since it is a very basic and physical act.
We as students, and more importantly, as residents of a liberal campus have very few to no restrictions. We live away from parental boundaries with people of our own age. Having sexual intercourse isn’t a felony or a criminal act. It is an understandable natural impulse. College is a time where we as individuals are growing and looking at possible partners of the opposite sex, not necessarily “life partners”. In this search, one aspect of it is searching for someone who you’re comfortable having sex with.
We have moved on from the times of sex after marriage and for anyone, at least in Manipal, to judge someone negatively on the basis that he/she has had pre-marital sex is not only conservative in the least but also a narrative on the person’s train of thought. It is to be living in a fool’s paradise if we fail to accept pre-marital sex as a reality and an urban need.
A note to those who still condemn pre-marital sex under religious reasons: In ancient mythology, there have been countless gods and goddesses who have engaged in polygamy or have cheated on their spouses.
Pre-marital sex is neither cheating nor polygamy, rather, it is a matter of consensual choice.
This being said, we as Indians shy away from the topic of sex. As Western pop-culture references are wont to slyly wink toward it, we are used to hearing about the “Birds and Bees talk.” However, expecting the same in India, though not entirely out of the question, is certainly a rare finding. This shyness extends to school even as teachers shy away from teaching what has already been prescribed in the syllabus for the very purpose of educating the youth about sex.
Inadequate knowledge and misinformation have considerable negative effects when a couple are having sex for the very first time. Lack of protective measures (such as condoms) and subsequent pregnancies have been seen in various parts of the world as a result of this. It is paramount to stress upon the use of condoms and to have an adequate knowledge of the menstrual cycles in sex.
Today, STDs are on a rise. Misinformed choices, multiple sex partners, shame and taboo are causing a lot of miscommunication between partners when it comes to STDs.
In 2008, there were an estimated 500 million people affected with some form of STD other than HIV/AIDS.
STDs are spread by sexual contact of any form – anal, vaginal or oral. They may even be spread by contact or through feco-oral route such as Hepatitis. Living with a disease is hard enough: there are a multitude of symptoms to deal with in the first place. In addition, with STDs, there is the fear of judgement, being outcasted and held morally accountable.
Imagine having cancer and being judged and blamed for having the cancer.
STDs are just like any other disease. It does not make the person carrying or affected by it any less human.
Having an STD is not automatically equal to being sexually promiscuous. They may be spread in a chain of very honest partners.
The major problem with having an STD is this fear of judgement which subsequently causes the patient to hide his/her condition and not get it diagnosed by a physician. A basic requirement a patient needs to meet is the understanding that the physician is human too and would treat the disease on its merit without judging or making a character call on the basis that the infection is an STD.
There are multiple such taboos associated with STDs. We at MTTN are concerned about this growing epidemic and the taboo it entails. We shall, in the following week, bring about a series of articles which shall help you pre-diagnose any condition and subsequently seek physician assistance, break your taboo and help you look at STDs in a different light.
This was the introductory article to the series STD Awareness Week by MTTN, starting from the 1st of February to 7th of February, 2017. Delve deeper into our series on STD Awareness.