"I stopped having sex before I lost control"
In a time of mass immigration, South Asian women were confined to largely domestic roles, believing their positions were away from sex or intimacy and instead, as obedient housewives and daughters.
This stemmed from traditional values that were instilled within females from a relatively young age.
As time has gone on, women have gained a considerable reach to education and it has almost become a necessity for a female to obtain their education so that they can build a better life for themselves.
This comes after their mothers and aunties were denied this right.
The idea of feminism, female empowerment and economic success has made its way into mainstream media and social movements.
For some, sex was considered to be an act of love and purity between two people who had entered a marital relationship.
In most South Asian cultures, it was almost unheard of for a couple to partake in sexual activities without a marriage certificate.
Traditionally, South Asian societies believe sex is a sacred and special act to be performed on the first night of marriage.
These beliefs are strongly held by ideas of culture which have been passed down through generations of women, discouraging and almost threatening them against the idea of premarital sex.
It was considered highly immoral if it became known that two people had ‘done the deed’ before marriage.
Marrying the person you have had sex with is great, but does this mean that the beauty of intimacy has run its course and sex is merely seen as a task to get pregnant?
Many women have been known to question their sex lives.
They find themselves asking if their husbands would have married them if they hadn’t said yes to sex before getting married.
The idea of becoming involved in a sexual relationship that is not within a marriage has been deemed inappropriate for a very long time.
It is believed that the sanctity of the act is tarnished when the act is performed outside of a marital relationship.
It was also looked down on because for many people, sex is purely the act that brings children into the world, and so simply, to have sex before marriage is considered as giving a child life.
No Sex = Easy Break-Up
Many would argue that if two people are in love then they have the right to give themselves to one another.
Some would say that if a couple were in the initial stages of getting to know one another, having sex would only bring them closer, creating a stronger bond between the two.
On the other hand, when two people are getting to know one another and they feel that they are not compatible, surely it would be easier to walk away when you know you have not connected sexually.
Sex naturally brings two people closer together, emotionally, mentally and physically.
So if a relationship doesn’t work out and you choose to walk away, you still find yourself wanting that person due to the emotional connection you have formed.
As many young individuals are embarking on relationships, it has become the norm that couples will partake in the act of kissing and hugging, and sure enough there will be an element of physical relationships.
Western Impact on the Young Desi Generation?
Throughout the development of media, be it film, TV, or social media, the ideas surrounding premarital sex have started to waver.
It is very easy to watch an English movie where you often see an unmarried couple having sex, and over time, these tropes have started trickling into Bollywood movies.
Often, they show a young couple in a passionate relationship who gives in to their desires before marriage.
Furthermore, Western concepts of living together as a couple before marriage could have influenced South Asian women’s perspectives.
They too think that they can live together with their partner before they are married.
Whilst this is one’s own decision, many will see this as dismantling a lot of traditions concerning “saving yourself” for marriage.
In turn, this causes the younger generation to engage in a lot more physical relationships because they see everyone else doing it online and in film and TV.
Has Freedom Taken Away from Culture?
The impact of the digital age is deep and all-encompassing. It is also a very new phenomenon which has gained more exposure in the past few decades.
As a result, this has created an entirely different world compared to that of the elder generation.
This means that the younger generation has a more liberal approach to sex, compared to their parents.
Although there are still some youngsters who believe in saving themselves until the wedding night, there are many more who believe that it is not a bad thing to have sex whilst in a relationship.
DESIblitz talked to a variety of South Asian individuals, in a bid to understand their opinions based on their perspectives.
A few agreed that having sex outside of marriage was an attempt to fit in a world where there is a culture that everyone is ‘doing it’.
Others commented that it was a personal preference and if individuals did not feel comfortable, then they should not be judged and made to feel as though they had a backwards mentality.
Devika Kapoor* said:
“I am 32 years old now and I have been married for two years.
“When I was at university, I lived away from home and all of a sudden I had all this freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
“This included being friends with boys and dating without the fear of being seen by an uncle or aunty.
“All my friends were having sex with their partners, and I was the only one in my group of friends who had not been physical with my boyfriend.
“My friends used to laugh at me and when they would tell me their sex stories, I felt as though I was missing out.
“In a way, it was peer pressure that I succumbed to.”
“The first time I had sex, I became fearful of the age-old saying ‘what will people say?’
“But then I thought, who is going to say anything? There’s nobody here to tell tales.
“In a way, I’m glad I had sex before marriage because I feel that I knew what I was doing on my wedding night, as opposed to just laying on my back.”
On the flip side, 21-year-old Anaya Joshi* told DESIblitz that she was still living at home whilst studying for a medical degree at a local university.
She said that she was in a relationship and had a pretty active sexual life.
When she was questioned if she was worried about being caught by a member of her family, she replied by saying that she was an adult and she had every right to behave the way she saw fit.
What Does the Public Have to Say?
DESIblitz spoke to members of the public and asked them their thoughts and opinions on the matter, and we received interesting insights on the matter.
Jaya Singh said:
“In our society, there’s a deep-rooted tradition of respecting our elders and their values.
“While casual dating is slowly becoming more accepted, premarital sex is still not addressed so I think it’s important to strike a balance between modernity and tradition.
“It’s a personal choice, and at the end of the day, we should respect everyone’s decision.”
Hamanpreet Kaur added:
“While some still consider sex before marriage a taboo, we can’t ignore the fact that it happens. And it’s happening right now.
“So, instead of bashing women for exploring their sexuality, we should focus on promoting safe practices and open communication within relationships.”
Furthermore, Taran Bassi commented:
“Our culture values marriage, and sex before marriage goes against those values.”
“So, I understand why it’s frowned upon in the community.
“But that doesn’t mean we should be dismissive towards those who have different lifestyle choices to us.”
Many people believe that as the world continues to become more modern, Desi youngsters are fighting to stay on trend with their peers.
What was once seen as a sacred act between two people, has now become an everyday occurrence.
Are Women More Open to Sex Before Marriage?
With women being able to access more education and partake in social activities, it is evident that they are more aware of relationships, sex and boundaries.
Living in a society that is heavily influenced by Western culture, it was only a matter of time before South Asian men and women lived a life similar to their surroundings.
DESIblitz spoke to a range of women to gain an understanding of what they thought of the era they lived in now and the impact it has had on their daily lives.
Natasha Ahmed said:
“As a young girl living in a Western world, I feel as though there is a lot of influence on me as a Desi woman to fit into the world I have created for myself.
“I have graduated from university and I have a lot of friends who are not Asian.
“I saw the life they lived on campus, and I will admit that I found myself going down that route.
“I didn’t enjoy it so I stopped having sex before I lost control.”
Sneeta Rajan added:
“I stayed away from home for university and studied law in Manchester.
“I lived a life of boyfriends and alcohol in my first year, and I would have carried on.
“I only stopped because I failed a module that would stop me from progressing to my second year, and I did not want to repeat my first.
“I have nothing against anyone who wants a sexual relationship before they get married, I’ve done it myself.
“But I just wanted to get my degree and that became my main focus.”
After speaking to several other women, ranging in different ages, it was interesting to see that most younger women saw no problem in having sex.
Whereas other women who fall in the 40+ category were more hesitant about it.
After hearing these differing opinions, it is highly important to recognise that society has an impact on the way we conduct ourselves.
Time for Acceptance?
Why is sex before marriage looked down on in the Desi community?
Is it considered to be an act in an attempt to fit into a more modern world or are youngsters adapting to a Western way of living?
According to some cultures and beliefs, sex before marriage is considered to be a sin of the highest form.
Meaning that an individual, namely a female, has lost her purity and is considered to be a ‘used item.’
However, as time has passed, we find that many younger individuals from a Desi household are becoming more modern in their way of living.
According to them, sex is not considered to be a big thing or anything to be frowned upon.
It would be safe to say that how elders honoured their traditions and cultures is hugely different to the way today’s generation expresses it.
However, that does not mean that the young generation of today does not give importance to their roots.
It merely means that they now can see things with a fresher interpretation.
This can be met with some backlash if there is an increase in premarital pregnancies and families face having awkward, or even painful conversations with one another.
Where the migrant elders are trying to desperately hold onto their beliefs and values, the youth of today are making their version of what it means to be South Asian in the 21st century.
This calls for wider and more open conversations on how we can ensure core beliefs are not lost, whilst still making it relevant for today’s generation.
Accepting change and not fearing it is essential in braving challenges head-on.