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A still from 'Four More Shots Please!'
A still from 'Four More Shots Please!'

Opinion | Our nibble nibble gobble gobble sex lives

The latest season of the Amazon Prime show Four More Shots Please! gets where most Indian men don't: the elusive female orgasm

In the second season of Four More Shots Please! on Amazon Prime, stand-up comic Siddhi discovers that her work partner’s performance is better on stage than off it. On stage they are a funny duo but his bedroom routine, though hilarious, is deeply unsatisfying.

He climbs atop her and his mouth moves from her right ear to her left; he trails his lips briefly down her cleavage to her stomach, then looks up expectantly to always ask the same question: “Ready?"

She nods politely, he begins. After just a few thrusts—always in missionary position—he orgasms, then falls back on his side of the bed with a satisfied, cat-who-ate-the-cream expression (though it’s obvious from her face that he didn’t).

After a few fake orgasms, and one particularly depressing lovemaking session, she goes into the bathroom, perches on the pot, calls her girlfriend and dispiritedly delivers the show’s funniest dialogue: “Kaan neck nibble nibble, cleavage tummy gobble gobble, go in five thrusts get out. Even I know the routine now."

“He’s a set guy, comedy set, sex set," her lesbian friend laughs. “Fake it till you make it…and if not you have to take things in your own hands literally." She offers a list that any Cosmopolitan magazine reader will recognize as positions that allow women to orgasm easier: Folded missionary, wrapped missionary, London plough, folded cowgirl.

But Siddhi’s partner is an Indian man. She knows it will be too much effort to have this conversation. She hangs up.

Thanks to Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya, the female orgasm is briefly in the spotlight, even if, as we all mostly agree, Indian men should maintain social distance from any public conversation on female pleasure long after the lockdown is over.

Surya’s 2015 Islamophobic tweet—“95 percent of Arab women have never had an orgasm in the last few hundred years! Every mother has produced kids as act of sex not love:@TarekFatah"—since deleted, was reincarnated on Twitter earlier this week and became a diplomatic bump in Indo-Arab relations.

My advice to Surya and other men: Try talking to your partner about her pleasure requirements before tweeting like a global sex expert. I should say #notallmen because surely somewhere in India some of us are with men who understand that female pleasure is largely about clitoral stimulation and foreplay that lasts more than 2 minutes?

My favourite foreplay joke is stand-up comic Aditi Mittal’s take (complete with vigorous actions) on how to handle a woman’s breasts. “Remember do not treat them like a DJ table, that you are waiting for music to start coming out of them, nor are they dhakkan on a jar of jam that you keep trying to unscrew them, neither are they ACP Pradyuman." Here she uses the jabbing hand action of the television detective with one of his trademark dialogues, Kuch to gadbad hai.

Even apart from how badly men treat our bodies, most Indian women are brought up to feel extreme discomfort about their bodies and their sexual selves. In Deepa Narayan’s Chup, one of my go-to books about growing up female in this country, the chapter on women’s bodies is titled Deny Sexuality: Please God, Don’t Give Me Those Breasts.

We usually only discuss the female orgasm as a tool to slut-shame women. It was exactly one year ago that filmgoers saw Sakshi Soni, played by Swara Bhasker, masturbating with a vibrator in Veere Di Wedding. Shortly after, condom manufacturer Durex pointed out in its #OrgasmInequality campaign that 70% of Indian women don’t orgasm every time they have sex. Most surveys about Indian sex lives have had similar findings as far back as I can remember but this time Durex highlighted the inequality of the sexual experience for Indian women.

Both these events—landmarks in the pop culture modern history of the desi woman’s orgasm—were met with derision and disgust on social media. Female pleasure is not something we like to discuss unless we are regurgitating the predictable public debate that uses those twin weapons of shame and guilt.

“Fulfilling a woman’s own desire is intellectually acknowledged by just about every woman but still secondary for most, a lucky side effect," writes Narayan, who believes that families have failed their daughters and sons.

Any sexologist will confirm that our Great Indian Family upbringing ensures that our knowledge of sex is abysmal. In nonagenarian Dr Mahinder Watsa’s book, It’s Normal!, he says basic issues among newly married couples include the man being unable to find the vaginal opening. One gent, Watsa writes, felt his nurse partner’s pubic bone above her vagina and almost convinced her that she had a bone in place of her vagina. “Some blissfully think they have entered the vagina until their wife tells them otherwise; actually, they were having intercourse between the thighs," Watsa writes.

For those who do manage to get past the first few hurdles, the final destination continues to be elusive. Most of us will empathize with the woman who was sharing her problem with sexologist Prakash Kothari as quoted in Outlook magazine two decades ago: Bistari ki aakhri manzil nahin pahunch saki (Somehow, I could never reach orgasm).

Priya Ramani shares what’s making her feel angsty/agreeable.

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