Creating Sex Positive Dialogue

Creating Sex Positive Dialogue

The Badal Ja! community recently convened for our second Small Steps event, this time centered around sexuality in our own lives. A vibrant group of 30-35 young professionals and students gathered to take part at the Centre for Education and Documentation in Colaba.

sex positive mumbai badal ja

The night kicked off with a much needed ice breaker to get the conversation easily flowing around one of the hardest (ha! pun intended) topics to talk about: sex! While people munched on a snack menu created around aphrodisiacs, they picked chits—some rather risque—at random out of a hat. Depending on what they picked out, people shouted words such as “boobs” and “felatio” and invited people to either “Spank them” (or not!). Giggles were shared, tension broke, and the stage was set for a deep dive into the topic of the hour.

Our dynamic partner, Shalaka Sisodia from Seeds of Awareness led us into a taboo-breaking exercise, in which participants placed several scandalous words on different pillars representing “OK,” “Not OK,” and “Undecided.” Participants had the option of moving words to different walls, which resulted in some heated dialogue around what we consider taboo.

sex positive mumbai

Shalaka Sisodia, co-founder of Seeds of Awareness LLP

What was interesting to note in this conversation was the number of people who had different interpretations on the statements based on what verb they emphasized. For example, one of the longest debates centered around the card “staring at a girls boobs,” which was placed on the “OK” wall. While it may be an obvious gut reaction to say staring at breasts is not OK, many people questioned the nuances that come with each stare. Does the feeling of invasion of privacy change when you are attracted to the person staring at your breasts? Is it someone who you want to be staring at your breasts? Do all girls feel equally as threatened? Some people stare at all parts of the body—ankles, legs, shoulders—why are breasts any different?

sex positive mumbai

“OK” wall before discussion

 

sex positive mumbai

“Undecided” wall before discussion

sex positive india

“Not OK” wall before discussion

Debate on other words such as “sodomy” focused on the idea of consent. If a sexual act is consensual, no matter how taboo it may seem, are we to judge whether or not it is OK? As the session continued, it was obvious that 45 minutes was not enough for this activity! We could’ve gone for another two hours easily discussing all the shades of grey—but alas, the night had to go on!

From this heavy discussion on taboo words, we then took a breather and decided to focus on the funnier and sometimes mortifying aspects of sex. We shared embarrassing stories and “things we wished Cosmo mag would have told us!” Remember when you thought a kiss could get a girl pregnant (thank you, Hindi serials)? The first time you went to a sex store, or your surprise at the mess created after giving your first hand job? Yep, embarrassing for you—but funny for us, especially because we’ve all been there—and it happens to everyone! No, really it does!

After a few more chuckles and sips of wine, we were ready for the action items—role plays!

How do you talk to your partner about consent? To your parent about your sexuality? How do you talk to your partner about contraception? How about to a sibling on sex?! The group voted on their favourite scenarios, and our volunteer actors demonstrated these tough conversations.

A few central themes emerged in the discussion after role playing the consent conversation. For example, the expression of displeasure after being told “no” could make some women feel pressured. The conversation highlighted the fact that consent is needed at every step of the way, and one cannot assume consent for all acts. Participants also stressed that clear communication and knowing what one wants are both key to consent. Honest communication is some of the best foreplay around!

The second role play voted on was “What to do if you are in the bed with your partner, and your parents walk in on you having sex.” How do you have a constructive conversation after the initial humiliation subsides? (At least temporarily, as someone who has been in that position before, I know it never subsides completely).

sex positive mumbai badal ja

Roleplay of parent speaking to child

The group generated some great ideas about how to speak to parents about their fears of your sexuality. Humor was cited as a powerful way to diffuse tension (“Yes mom, I’m going to see a prostitute tonight. Any other worries?”). Other tacts include choosing to deconstruct the issue over a long period of time, with multiple conversations addressing different angles (“What are your values? How do they conflict with mine?”) and being straightforward about your sexuality, without lying or covering up (but then being ready for the consequences). Yet Another suggestion was to talk about concepts rather than making it a personal attack.

We finished the evening with more delicious aphrodisiac foods and wine, ready to take on our internal dilemmas with humor and camaraderie the next time around.

Badal ja! would like to thank all those who came out for the event, the Seeds of Awareness crew, and our food sponsor! We can’t wait to meet everyone again at the next Badal ja! event. For updates on that event, please get in touch via social media (Twitter, Facebook), join the BJ! community, and sign up for email announcements. See you soon!