Woman on top: Why label her sanskari, slutty or sex goddess?

Given the whole virginity- seeking-mindset where men want wives with an intact hymen, it shouldn’t come as a surprise they believe that women don’t have sexual needs, but only try to satisfy their partner’s desires

Illustration: Azad Mohan Illustration: Azad Mohan

A modern Indian man wanted a bride who was a virgin. He wanted her to be pure and innocent and not even know about sex, let alone oral sex. But, he also wanted her to be able to give him a blow job on his wedding night with such skill that would put a Pattaya sex worker to shame! This is the beginning of a tragic chapter in the life of one of the women who THE MAN spoke to for this piece. 

Given the whole virginity- seeking-mindset where men want wives with an intact hymen, it shouldn’t come as a surprise they believe that women don’t have sexual needs, but only try to satisfy their partner’s desires. They believe that women thrive on emotional intimacy and see sex as a necessary evil. Obviously, they reject the notion of a woman who likes to be in charge or ask them out unless, of course, she is a sex worker. 

And this is not just true for women on the marriage mart. Dipti Iyengar, a 42-year-old writer from Mumbai, says, “There was this guy on Tinder who wanted to know how long since I had been divorced because he wanted to find out how long it had been since I had been with a man. He had assumed that I had only been with one man my entire life”

Dipti is not the only woman who has experienced this double standard. Men on dating apps know that the women on dating apps also have sex, but they still seek ‘virginal’ women who have not had more than a partner or two.

They also claim that women who have had more than one partner might not be tight enough to please them. “How does it matter if a woman sleeps 500 times with one man or 10 times with 50 different men? If their STD status is a concern, then they need to ask about that and not the number of partners because it doesn’t take more than one partner to become infected. Ask the millions of women with HPV infection who have only ever slept with the one man who is their husband,” adds Dipti.

Normal Not Nympho

One would think that 35+ men in metropolitan India don’t have such hang ups, but when we asked women whether they had ever been with a man who welcomed the idea of a woman on top — literally and figuratively — their response was not exactly encouraging. 

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All the married women preferred not to talk despite an assurance of anonymity because they either wanted to wipe out their sexual history with other men by pretending it didn’t happen or not reveal that they followed the socially acceptable behaviour when it came to their husbands.

A majority of the single women who had a decent sex life said that they preferred to have sex only when a man initiated it or tried anything new only when seduced by their partner so as to preserve their image of being virtuous.

Studies show that women offer token resistance when a man initiates sexual activity because they are worried about being perceived as slutty if they participate wholeheartedly. So, does she mean yes when she says no? The lines are clearly drawn because No means No and Maybe could become a Yes or No. But, that is a story for another day.

This is about the single women who did find men who don’t think a woman who craves sex is a nympho. Men who encouraged women to explore their desires and fantasies. Men who liked pleasing the women while being told how to do it without feeling emasculated.

While they were not perceived as nymphos or sluts, each of these women still had a bitter-sweet experience. 

The Other Woman

Sakshi Sharma, 40-year -old designer from Mumbai, went straight from being wife to mistress. 

“I met this guy when I was going through my divorce and he wormed his way into my affections and my bed with emotional support. 

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'I could match his sexual appetite and was as excited as he was. It was the first time I had tried anything other than missionary. I felt free. He loved how uninhibited I was in bed. He claimed that I drove him crazy when I rode him. I had never been on top till I met him and he encouraged me to go wild,” Sakshi recalls with a slight catch.

The tawdry twist 

Sakshi knew her partner did not have a sexual relationship with his wife for years. As their affair progressed, she thought that he would part ways with his wife and their relationship would move to the next level.

However, she was in for a rude shock as he wanted to continue playing the role of doting husband to a sanskari wife who he claimed to love, while  continuing to lust after her to satisfy his carnal needs at the same time. Reminds one of the Victorian mindset, where the mistress is supposed to be for sex and the wife for giving them the heir and spare. 

The Dream Girl

Nupur Raina, a 35-year -old HR head from Delhi, found Prince Charming had shortcomings!

“We had been Tinder friends for a while and I had discussed my sexual fantasies with him explicitly, little expecting anything because we lived in different cities. When we met for the first time it was as friends. But, on our second date, he rocked my world. 

It was like that scene in the movie What Women Want, except that he didn’t need to be in my head because he followed what I had told him down to the last detail. From the foreplay to the digital sex, he made my every fantasy come true," she describes in a dreamy tone.

But, where’s the happy ending?

Even though Nupur was okay with casual sex at the time and did not have any expectations, she realised immediately that there wasn’t going to be any happy ending. The guy was merely overcompensating for having a micropenis! He rocked her world because he wanted to pleasure her as that made him happy.

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Since then, Nupur has been on many dates where men were happy to let her take the lead and it ended happily. But if she ever brought up commitment they vanished because they thought she was too ‘slutty' to take home to their parents. 

The Sex Goddess

Sameera Naidu, 44-year -old doctor from Hyderabad, prefers Mr. Right Now to Mr. Right.

“I love giving pleasure. I am aroused when I see a man respond to my moves. I had a lover who liked being in control, but then he let me blindfold him and do with him what I wished. 

It was exhilarating and he said that experiencing the whole act with all his other senses was something else altogether,” she recounts as she describes how she enjoys being with men who are not threatened by her sexuality.

Is there a “but” somewhere?

Sameera laments that despite not wanting to commit or seeking a commitment, guys would prefer that she were monogamous even if they are not. Though her lover enjoys being with her, she is not sure he even believes it when she says that she has not slept around. Not that it matters to her, but it seems to matter to him. Somewhere she senses that the guy might be looking down on her because she is an expert at giving pleasure. 

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According to Sameera, “It is not always practice, which makes perfect, it has a lot to do with sexual chemistry and being in the moment. But, even if a woman is able to pleasure a man because she has experience, how is it is a bad thing exactly? It is sad that educated men in their 40s who are at the top of their profession and out to mingle still worry about who else you are doing it with.”

There may be men out there who don’t want their wives to be virgins and are not derisive of women who sexually liberated or actually prefer to be with a woman who knows what she wants. The quest for those men is on!  

Take away for the modern man

Labels like slutty and sanskari don’t mean squat

Respect is a two-way street

Wife or lover, a woman on top is sexy, not shameless

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