Are British Asians Shy Talking about Sex?

For many British Asians, discussing sex remains a rarity. Join us in unravelling this cultural aspect together.

Are British Asians Shy Talking about Sex - f-2

"It goes unheard of in the South Asian community."

The topic of discussing sex among British Asians has always been a subject of curiosity.

It is often thought that cultural and religious values influence British Asians.

Join us as we explore the factors that shape attitudes towards sex and the extent to which British Asians engage in conversations about their sexuality.

Understanding the complexities surrounding this topic can shed light on the diverse experiences and perspectives within the British Asian community.

Cultural factors play a significant role in shaping attitudes towards sex within the British Asian community.

Traditional values, often rooted in conservative ideologies and religious teachings, can influence individuals’ comfort levels and willingness to discuss sexual topics openly.

Many British Asians are raised in households where discussions about sex are considered taboo or inappropriate.

Modesty, chastity, and the preservation of family honour are valued virtues when it comes to addressing sexual matters.

Living in the society we are in today, we are expected to modernise yet sex is never discussed.

Watching certain television shows and dramas where sex is commonly shown raises our curiosity.

However, at the same time, elders change the channels or start talking to distract us from watching – this raises even more questions for British Asians. 

Religion holds a central place in the lives of many British Asians.

The diversity of religious beliefs among British Asians means that attitudes towards discussing sex can vary widely.

Coincidentally, some individuals may feel uncomfortable or shy due to religious influences and family values, including the older generation.

The younger generation, who have grown up in more liberal and multicultural environments, often exhibit more openness when it comes to conversations about sex.

Crossing Cultural Boundaries

Are British Asians Shy Talking about Sex - 1Exposure to Western culture, education, and increased access to information through the Internet has contributed to a gradual shift in attitudes.

Discussions with friends and colleagues of different ethnicities often unearth differences as they find it challenging to understand our upbringing.

In families where men are given more leeway to engage in conversations about sex, women are expected to be more reserved.

This can contribute to a sense of hesitation or shyness among women when discussing sexual topics.

Some women are still not sure what happens on their wedding night, as not even this is still spoken about in Western cultures.

We spoke to British Asians about their attitudes towards sex and if they feel comfortable openly discussing their sex lives.

Sudishani* was 20 years old when she was introduced to her husband to whom she has been married for 17 years:

“I did not know what sex was, I came from a very strict South Asian household where we never spoke of kissing let alone sex.

“On my wedding night, I was clueless but was relieved that I did not have to sleep with him as the whole extended family stayed in one large room.

“It was only a week later when my mother-in-law said tonight you will sleep in a separate room with your husband, that I started freaking out.

“In a way, I thought I would never have to do anything.”

“Until that night I did not know the difference between a kidney and a penis!

“Luckily my husband was gentle and initiated the lead.”

The perception that British Asians are shy when it comes to discussing sex is not entirely applicable to all individuals within the South Asian community.

Cultural influences, religious beliefs and generational shifts all play a huge part.

British Asian Voices Unveiled

Are British Asians Shy Talking about Sex (2)Another British Asian woman named Zahmera* also shared her experiences with DESIblitz:

“My parents were very traditional and always encouraged me to work hard at University.

“But at the same time, they were worried I would meet guys and become reckless and have relationships.

“I was not a rebellious girl, I just wanted to have fun whilst at university to release the steam from working so hard.

“I am very vocal in having conversations and debates about sex.

“British Asians are no longer shy about speaking freely about sex and relationships.

“My parents were upset when they found out I was in a same-sex relationship with Mahi.

“They did not take it well at first. In our culture, we marry men and what about children?

“Two years on and they have seen how in love Mahi and I are and happy for us both.

“It was hard for them to understand in the beginning but with talking and listening and educating, they now understand we have to move with the times.”

51-year-old Amit* spoke frankly about his upbringing and how sex is perceived among the British Asian community:

“At college, friends and I used to discuss sex and how we tried to chat up the girls but many were so shy that it made us pursue them even harder so that we could go out with them and have sex. 

“Our parents were strict on our sisters but never with us.

“When our dads had a drink, they would discuss their sex lives as we eavesdropped.

“When I left University my parents arranged my marriage as this was customary.

“After 15 years of marriage and children, I noticed the sex was becoming less and less.”

“I found myself stressed all the time. After a visit to the GP, it was confirmed that I was suffering from erectile dysfunction.

“When you are younger you don’t think something like this could affect you.

“I found out that my partner was cheating on me and we decided to get divorced as she was seeing somebody else behind my back.

“For a while, I thought I was not good enough, going from being a confident young British Asian male, to an older man who sometimes struggles with himself.

“With a beautiful new partner, trust and being open has made me realise that with medication, I can have sex but just a little slower.”

Cultivating Open Conversations

Are British Asians Shy Talking about Sex (3)Efforts are being made within the British Asian community to create safe spaces to discuss sex and promote sexual health education.

SASH and Brook are just a few of the organisations that serve the South Asian community by providing valuable information and support.

By addressing cultural and religious sensitivities and tailoring resources to specific communities, these organisations aim to overcome the shyness associated with talking about sex.

Soma* a 34-year-old married woman, moved to the UK with her family when she was 12:

“Being brought up in a lenient South Asian household, sex before marriage was not even discussed with my mum.

“I had no one to speak to and when it came to my wedding night, it was not what I had expected.

“I was so scared that my husband could not penetrate me at all.

“I was in so much pain, even though I knew what was expected I was frigid.

“He was not frustrated at me but more so worried as even though I wanted to have sex with him I could not.

“Over the years, we pleasured each other in other ways and one day I called my best friend at work.

“When my friend came over, I explained that he put his penis a little harder inside me.

“I was taken to hospital by my friend as I was having a panic attack.

“It transpired after many tests and therapy sessions, I had not only lost my virginity, but I was suffering in silence from a condition called vaginismus.”

“The root of my problem is not uncommon but it goes unheard of in the South Asian community, and many women have suffered in silence.

“My husband and I now have a healthy sexual relationship and a beautiful little boy.”

The evolving attitudes towards sexual discussions within the South Asian community are shaped by an interplay of cultural influences, religious beliefs, and generational shifts.

These factors collectively contribute to the diverse range of perspectives and comfort levels when it comes to discussing sex.

It is important to respect the impact of cultural influences, honour individual religious beliefs, and acknowledge the generational shifts that occur within families.

By doing so, we can foster an environment that encourages open conversations about sexuality, leading to greater understanding and empowerment.

Harsha Patel is an erotica writer who adores the subject of sex, and realising sexual fantasies and lust through her writing. Having gone through challenging life experiences as a British South Asian woman from an arranged marriage with no choice to an abusive marriage and then a divorce after 22 years, she started her journey to explore how sex plays a significant role in relationships and its power to heal. You can find her stories and more on her website here.

Harsha loves to write about sex, lust, fantasies and relationships. Aiming to live her life to the fullest she abides by the motto "everybody dies but not everybody lives".

Images courtesy of Canva.

*Names changed to preserve anonymity.

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