Let’s talk about sex

So, the other day, I was having a chat with some of my single lady friends, and of course the talk came down to the dearth of good men and then it led, inevitably, to how to deal with the endless dry spells we all have to put up with, and from there to the trials and travails of trying to get laid while single. And suddenly, something struck me. When did blowjobs become mandatory? No, seriously.

Sometime in the past eight years, guys in India seem to have decided that when they get laid, they get head. It happens every time. You’re getting hot and heavy with a guy, he’s not trying to eat your face in the name of kissing, he smells nice and responds to you, and then he grabs your head and pushes it down to his crotch. If he’s really nice it’ll be a gentle nudge and not a shove; he won’t say, assuming you find it hot, ‘Suck my dick’ (though if you do find it hot, more power to you and, I imagine, less frequent coitus interruptus to have the conversation that porn is not real life). If you’re unlucky, like I once was, he will literally try and hold your head in his crotch until you swear at him and throw him out.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with blowjobs, giving or getting, and they are a very wonderful and valuable part of the whole gamut of sexual experience, just like cunnilingus or doggy style or all sorts of lovely things people are doing to each other all the time everywhere. But, just like cunnilingus and doggy style and light bondage, it doesn’t have to be part of every sexual encounter. (Unless, of course both people want it, in which case please be thankful for compatible sexual partners =D).

The thing with oral sex, and well pretty much any good sex, is that the goal is for both people to be comfortable and pleasured. Granted it’s very rare you’ll find someone who wants to have sex with you who perfectly complements everything you like, but that’s why we have multiple partners people. (And safe sex and STD tests and consent.) Some women can only come with oral, and the general effort to discuss women’s pleasure and expand sexual experience means that most guys (that I run into) are game to go down on women. Many of them take it very seriously and pride themselves on their prowess. And then ignore the women who don’t enjoy oral and say so, dismissing them with ‘Oh you’ve never had it done right.’ Eyeroll. Guys, the point is about what pleasures the woman. If she’s telling you something, then listen!

But I digress. The main thing that occurred to me, and probably has been said before and better, is that many many people learn about sex from porn and, in porn, there’s no sex without a blowjob, and usually a facial. Boys, here’s a secret. Some people might like that, but most people don’t really enjoy having to extract gooey cum from an eye or a nostril, cum that will turn into crusty ick when it dries. Sure, if it gets you off they’ll do it, but maybe you needn’t ask for it every single time? Some people enjoy being face fucked, but again, I gotta say it’s a minority, just like some women like it when you try and kiss their whole mouth nose and chin, but most of us? Ugh, please give me a wet wipe.

And girls, here’s a secret. You don’t have to do it. No part of sex is mandatory (for anyone) though generally, if there’s something that’s the only way for your partner to get off, and you don’t like it, you might want to rethink the whole thing. Good sexual partners are willing to try stuff once, and maybe do things they don’t hate if it makes their partner happy, and, equally, they are willing to make sure they’re clean and don’t expect their partners to do things they don’t actively enjoy every time they have sex.

Porn, while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it, is really problematic in how it phrases sex, because the majority of porn that’s really out there is just… pretty fucked up*. For example, you don’t see normal penises. You rarely see a man as more than a pair of legs and a butt attached to an abnormally large penis. You see a woman as a collection of places to shove a penis hard. Everyone is making crazy loud noises, but no one is actually communicating what they like or how they like it. Moaning ‘yeahhh yeahhh yeahhh’ is about all the woman does and grunting and saying ‘you like that’ is about all the man does.

Real sex, on the other hand, involves actually caring what your partner wants. It involves a huge range of sizes and shapes and colours of genitals, a positive plethora of tastes and kinks and turnoffs. Now, considering we’re unwilling to admit to having sex in India, especially if we’re women, I don’t blame us for not being really on board with this communication thing. Also we’re all a giant bundle of insecurities with our clothes off–I have love handles; there are spots on my back; am I too hairy–largest of which of course is, I’m bad in bed. So yeah when you’re using your best move and someone says they don’t like it, it’s hard to hear and harder to respond to and come back from positively. I remember some years ago the first time I gave this guy head and he told me, dismissively, that I was really bad at oral sex. It took me a long time to come back from that and that boy didn’t get any head at all during that time. And then I got over it enough to try a different tactic and became ‘you give the best head ever’. Now if only he’d told me what he’d like everything would have been simpler. And once I realized that I needed to mix it up, all was well.

The communication problem is worse with women though, because, first, we often don’t even get to find out what we like. I have women friends who have never been on top because they’re concerned about how fat they might look, and then finally, egged on by their women friends and their partners have finally tried it only to become total converts. It happened with me. There are so many things I didn’t even know to try. And how could I find out these things? Well because I’ve been lucky in some of my sexual partners, and they have not just introduced me to things I love, they have encouraged me to ask for things, try things, look for things and eventually find out lots about myself in bed. But, if I’d ended up in a monogamous relationship eight years ago like many of my peers… I might have been stuck not knowing so much, and kind of mildly frustrated with my sex life and wondering how to fix it–like many of my peers.

More problematic for women though is that when we do talk about what we want, we’re usually judged quite a bit for being slutty. Many of us also don’t even know how to begin to articulate our frustrations (this is a guy thing too), and, given the larger social cost women pay by being sexually active, we’re even more reluctant to open the can of worms that knowing what we want implies. And of course, often enough, when we do, we aren’t always heard. That said, anyone who veers from the porn/romance novel script is usually greeted with horror and does so with great fear of rejection, ridicule and judgement.

I had a conversation just this morning with a friend who told me another friend had an open marriage and it was disgusting. When I asked him why, he said it was because the husband didn’t want it, but was giving in to keep his wife. Well, that might not be the best way to have an open marriage but that doesn’t mean it won’t work or that it is repulsive. We gotta be willing to allow people to have their own needs and respect their right to fulfil those needs as long as it doesn’t harm or exploit someone else. (Psst, it outrages my sense of morality does not count as harm.)

And we gotta start talking more about sex, so that we can understand the mindboggling variety of body types and personal tastes there are, so we can learn there is no such thing as normal, so we talk about sex like the important and joyful part of life that it is, we don’t hide it and whisper about it and pretend that it is wrong. We gotta start pushing for sex positive pornography because the way the world is people are going to learn about sex from porn, and we need to make sure the healthy stuff is out there. And hopefully we will soon arrive at a world where nobody is going to grab anybody’s head and shove it into their crotch (unless previously requested/consented to of course).

 

*There are exceptions. This is a great place to start reading more about sex positive porn. And this. Also, Caitlin Moran’s chapter on sex in How to be a Woman.

What to wear

So I am moving to Spain in August, to start business school. Those of you who have googled me will have seen that I am what they politely call a plus sized lady, and, having never worked really corporate ever, all my clothes are… hippie. I mean publishing is the worst industry if you want to collect nice work clothes because [a] you can’t afford anything nice and [b] everyone looks at you in shock when you turn up formally dressed. Heavens I often went to work in clothes I literally wear on the beach. So basically, when I was summoned to my first interview for Bschool, I kinda panicked. Because it said very clearly, dress code: business formal. Normally I’d just put on a sari, but these weren’t Indians so I was worried it would look…well…hippie. So I ran off in a mad scramble to find some clothes.

Only, I’d forgotten, I can’t buy clothes in shops in India!

There are a lot of things I have found hard about being a fat woman in India, but the most insidious and painful of them is the simple fact that I can’t buy clothes in regular shops. Nobody keeps XL, and anyway XL today is basically a loose M. The idea is, I guess, all the fat girls are aunty-types who can just live in salwar kameez and horrible shapeless floppy things they pay double for in plus size stores, if they’re lucky enough to live in a city with one in the first place. It’s a total mindfuck you guys. Because clothes are a pretty basic thing, and nobody ever having your size is basically the whole industry telling you to fuck off, you’re not good enough to wear anything stylish.

All this meant that, when I first moved to the US, I was so thrilled that I could buy clothes in stores! Like just walk in, try on all the styles and fits and colours and buy some clothes! It became a mini ritual: my sister would send me stuff whenever someone visited; I’d have a nearly annual pilgrimage to my beloved Old Navy flagship store and the local Target and return with clothes that fit my body and my sense of self. (And everywhere I go, I’m stared at in India, not in lust or anger (well not at first), but in bewilderment. People just cannot able to process fat girl in stylish clothes.)

When I was desperately trying to find a pair of pants and a jacket in October, I ended up at the only place large women I know can buy bras and pants: Marks and Spencer. Which, as we all know, is the lamest, dowdiest firangi clothes store in India. Shapeless, floppy and boring are the three words that pop in my head the most when I’m there, and even they had only one pair of pants that fit me, and they were tapered, which is a cut I hate. Still, I bought the clothes and had the interview and now they languish in my cupboard.

A friend of mine was excited about a dress she got–she’s chubby–and I felt so bad when I saw it because it was a classic fat girl dress: floor length, long sleeves, solid colour. And, instead of highlighting her several assets, it just screamed like a neon sign: there’s a fat girl in this dress. But if someone were to suggest a different style, she probably wouldn’t want to try it because she’s been told something about thighs or tummy or knees or something.

I guess this rant is about how we tell women how to dress all the time. This is not an Indian thing or a new thing. (We also tell men how to dress, but of course for men it’s about showing their value as manly men or having money etc, while for women it’s about being attractive.) We might not even do it explicitly as in wear this or don’t wear that; it can be as ninja as there just not being clothes you can wear. And it makes me angry. Because whoever you are, whatever you are, you should wear what you want, (even if I, or your mother, or some person on the street thinks its ugly/too much/too little/whatever) and you should be able to access all kinds of options and play around till you find clothes that make you happy about yourself. Because it’s true: when you dress nicely it gives you quite a kick of happiness. And we can all use all the extra happies we can get!

Coming Out

Well hello.

It has been a very interesting eight months since my last post. But most interesting of all to me is how many people still come and read this blog, comment on it and like the Facebook page. I mean I’ve had nearly as many likes after I stopped writing than I did when I was writing! You guys are more committed than I am heh. Thank you =) I often think that the best thing about that whole experiment was discovering that I can write in a way that appeals to people, which is something that would never have happened with all you enthu batanis.

So here’s a heart for you: <3

Okay wow that really doesn’t work in this font. But you know, the thought etc.

One of the things I miss a lot about the experiment is, actually, the blog. I miss writing. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be writing that damn book, but since I only really started last month and I’m still not sure how it’s going to pan out, that’s not nearly as much fun as the periodic blog post. Though they tell me I’ll be thrilled when it’s done.

Anyway, I wrote something recently for the Indian Express, (yes, I’m dropping all pretence at anonymity now) and it made this missing a lot worse. So I decided that, even if I’m not really dating focussedly, and even if it will likely have much more of me pontificating and much less snappy dialogue as a result, I am going to try and write a post a week, for you guys and for myself. I’m going to try and keep them tied at least partly to this theme of love, dating and relationships, but I cannot promise I’ll manage to do it! This week though, I’m cheating. Go read that Indian Express piece.

The End

Greetings faithful readers. (And the sudden spike of new ones. Did scroll retweet that article or something? One day in June I suddenly has a crazy spike in readers and followers.) I’ve been terrible lately, haven’t I? I don’t post and, honestly, it’s because I don’t want to. Even if I had a date, which I don’t, I don’t want to write about one more evening of me trying really hard to relate to and engage with a person who, even if I do succeed in connecting with him, is just going to vanish on me without the courtesy of a good bye. Honestly, I am also very tired of making all effort that to reach out to and relate with what, sadly, I have found to be a self-absorbed, self-indulgent and entitled group of people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all desi guys are horrible or useless or something, though I am very tempted to draw some very un-nuanced and unqualified generalizations about the group after the past four months. It might just be that because I’m looking at older guys (though I have dated younger ones), or because I’m in Delhi, or even because I’ve found it so difficult to meet single people in offline settings and go out with them. Heck it’s probably at least a little bit because I’m a picky cow myself! But the bottom line is that I have had multiple conversations with and attempts to connect with at least a hundred Indian guys between the ages of 23 and 40 in the past year, and dear lord it has been a lot of work with next to no payoff.

Most guys don’t want to make conversational effort. Okay I think, maybe they don’t realise it. So I tell them to ask me questions, to work a bit. ‘What is this, an interview?’ ‘I asked you to tell me about yourself!’ And then when I patiently explain that specific questions help move a conversation along, I get ‘Are you a virgin?’ or some such ridiculous thing, which is like a toddler that’s trying to push the boundaries with a parent–oooo I’m walking on the edge and if you react badly it’s because you’re not cool or chill ya.

Eyeroll.

Most guys think they deserve my attention (or that of any woman they have deigned to contact); they’re always pinging and they need instant responses. They don’t want to decide what to do. They make truly awful nudge nudge wink wink jokes, which, I keep telling myself, is because they don’t understand how oh the ol-ball-and-chain kind of jokes are deeply sexist and problematic. They are bewildered by generalized conversations about sexism and harassment: but are you saying I’m a rapist! I would never do that! How can you say that! And I explain. And some of them get it, and some of them don’t, and either way, all that work, all that investment, and later they are gone.

Maybe there is something deeply off about me; maybe that’s why it’s so difficult for men to relate to me as more than friends. Maybe I’m ridiculously picky. Though I have to say, as part of the project, I don’t think I have been. I’ve constantly been shushing my gut and saying give him a chance. And guess who’s been right every single time? Maybe Indian society has screwed up gravely in how it raises its men (ok ok more then maybe). We have all these fantastic women who just can’t seem to meet guys they can be with. It’s almost as if we’ve spent so much effort teaching women to be anything they want, to adopt ‘masculine’ emotions and reactions and roles, and all we’ve taught men is that they need to be ok with women doing what they want, or appear to be, or perhaps, to be fairer, to believe that they are. But they’re not. And we do not teach them to look to others first; we do not teach them to take on ‘feminine’ roles, emotions and reaction; we–yes even feminist women–hold them to unfair double standards just as they hold us to them too.

Whatever the reason, the main lesson I have learned in this past year is that I cannot do this. I cannot woo Indian men; I cannot coax and persuade them; perhaps I cannot even date them should there be genuine interest. Then again, there has not really been genuine mutual interest, so who knows.

When I set out to do this, I often got asked what outcome I expected, what if I met someone on one of these dates and fell in love–how would I deal with the project then? I used to say there were three possible outcomes. The best would be meeting someone who gave me the space to finish. The second best would be meeting someone. And the worst would be what has come to pass–that I would end up where I began, just more tired and frustrated. I think that all along I wanted to be wrong about the conclusions I have drawn in the past 5 years of dating. I wanted this experiment to prove that desi guys CAN be great for me, that the only reason I hadn’t met someone was because I wasn’t trying hard enough, I wasn’t casting my net wide enough, I wasn’t being open to possibilities. Somewhere deep down I was convinced that I would meet someone–as a friend said last night, ‘But it can’t end like this; you’re supposed to meet someone!’ Yes that is how the story goes, and I believed in the story.

But now I know that the story is, like all stories, just a story. It is powerful and hard to fight but just because you believe in it doesn’t mean that it always comes true. And so I come away from this project with, if nothing else, a much better understanding of myself, some great experiences, a book I’m going to write and at least two good friends. And you know what? That’s not so bad.

I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with this space now. I know I definitely don’t want to date for a while–unless I get to be the princess most men claim they don’t like and yet they chase after. I have things I would like to write about and they might be about dating and body image and love and suchlike pandemonium, but I’m not sure this is the right place for that, or honestly that people want to read about it! But I am very grateful for all the support I’ve had from you, my readers. I never thought I could write, and you’ve shown me that apparently I can. You’ve shown me that there are people who want to hear these stories, who are willing to invest in and root for a complete stranger. So thank you. And if I actually write that book, I promise to post about it so you know!

Resurfacing rant

Hi guys! Yes I know I vanished. Just like them boys I tell you =D

A lot has happened.

I quit my job and now work part time. I’m studying for GMAT. I’m going to go on a much awaited and very exciting trip to Europe all of June and some of July. I was fostering kittens (those of you ho follow me on Instagram might have noticed ahem). I have been enjoying this new, more relaxed, Gurgaon-less life. Though I miss seeing my DBF (Delhi Best Friend) since we don’t sit in the same office anymore.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails and some comments that urge me to get back to writing. I must admit they helped. It’s not that I don’t want to write–I’ve just had a lot going on and very little that isn’t frustrating in the dating space. And I don’t particularly want to write about my frustration, especially when it is basically rehashing things I’ve said before and often. I sometimes think of other things to write about, but in all my blogging career nothing has really inspired me to write like boys. Yes this is my cross and I bear it.

I have been trying to get dates, and I did go on one I haven’t written about, partly because he didn’t want me to talk about some things and I was too disillusioned with the whole idea of dating to make it fun and censor myself. So here I am, at #24, and stuck for a while. As you know, OKC has been positively charming (I’ve got a whole bunch of screenshots saved up), and I have been so bored I eve got back on tinder once. Got back off it shortly after as usual of course.

In the past two months (or so) I have tried to go out with quite a few guys. One guy with a terrible match wrote to me on OKC, but his work is so cool we started talking. And he kept saying he wanted to meet, but then didn’t seem actually inclined to do it. Then finally, after soooooooooo much time, he says let’s go out to dinner. We plan to meet at 8, and at 7 I call and ask where we’re meeting and he says he has to work late and will confirm if we’re on. At 745 he calls to say rain check. I’ve just come out of a satisfying session with my shrink so I laugh and tell him okay but he’d better bring his A game and have a plan. ‘Haha, Ok,’ he says. And that is the very last I heard from him–twelve days ago.

In this he reminds me so much of #23. Ah #23, who either read my post and freaked or is a really good actor and excellently faked being interested in me. I asked him if he wanted to do something (‘Definitely,’ he’d said after our date when I asked if he wanted to hang out again) around the first of April. ‘I’m a bit tied up this weekend,’ he said, ‘so let me get back to you.’ And there you have it, the brush off of cowards. I never have understood people who don’t have the courage to just say no. It’s over Whatsapp for Christ’s sake! What is the worst I could do? Could I be a desi guy and absolutely refuse to take no for an answer? Block me. It’s easy.

Sorry, I’m ranty today. Angsty too. Maybe because it’s the birthday of the last guy I was in love with, who, whatever his virtues, certainly didn’t appreciate me, and I, whatever my virtues, don’t seem to have completely shaken him off.

It is funny though that I should feel like this, so frustrated and angry with the universe, because hello, as this lovely quote I ran into today says, who the hell said I was entitled to love anyway?

It’s a funny thing about the modern world. You hear girls in the toilets of clubs saying, “Yeah, he fucked off and left me. He didn’t love me. He just couldn’t deal with love. He was too fucked up to know how to love me.” Now, how did that happen? What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll—then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.

―Zadie Smith

What is it about me, sarcastic, harsh, bitter, judgy, highly impatient me, that makes me think I am so lovable? Sure I’m nice and I do things for people, but where did I get this sense of entitlement–the very entitlement that I am sarcastic, harsh and impatient with Indian men for carrying around. Where did I get the idea that I am deserving of not just one unrealistic ideal man who adores me, but a few, so that I get to pick?  Something I’ve been thinking about lately.

And then, just when I am no longer lamenting the scarcity of men-I-could-be-into who are into me in my offline life, on Friday evening (guess which?), I suddenly have not one but three guys into me. One very interesting, one interesting and one totally not. The last is my downstairs neighbour, a nice enough guy who rants to me about water timings and keeps my car keys and starts my car when I go on long trips, and is in a long distance relationship. He’s dealing with it by going on Tinder apparently, where he saw me and ‘almost swiped right’. Then he decided to text me and see if it was OK to swipe right because he just wants to get laid, though heaven forbid he should articulate it that way. I sweetly told him no.

The interesting guy who I met at an alumni event held my hand for a while and then vanished when we went to after party at TC. Apparently there was a damsel in distress. Or something. Shockingly, I haven’t heard from him yet. The very interesting guy I then met at TC, when DBF started talking to him. He and I are supposed to go out on Wednesday. He might or might not suffer from the great vanishing disease, so to be on the safe side I shall believe our date when I’m actually on it.

And that, faithful readers (and really, I do appreciate that I actually have faithful readers), is all I have to show for two months. I might schedule a series on my OKc suitors though!