21 August 2010
By Bishwanath Ghosh
According to him, the most heartening trends in the city, as far as sex is concerned, are the empowerment of women and the recognition of alternative sexualities. "In the Victorian era, they would just lie back and think of England. Now the women no longer like to lie back and think of England or India.
They want to enjoy sex as well, and men aren’t threatened by that. Even sex toys are now easily available in the city. They are made in China, I am told, though I don’t know if they are sold legally. I hope they have batteries that don’t explode. The other welcome change that has happened is the alternative sexualities finding space," Nagaswami said in a lecture on Friday as part of Madras Week celebrations.
For men, though, things aren’t any better. "At that time, premature ejaculation was a big problem. Now it is erectile dysfunction. Those days it was the triumph of desire over performance, these days perfomance is dominant. But lifestyle is coming in the way, with all the obesity, stress and 18 hours of work ," said Nagaswami, who drew from his professional experience as a psychotherapist.
With marital sex not happening due to hectic lifestyles and workstyles, "hell of a lot of extra–marital sex" is happening. With people spending more time away from their partners, intimacies at the workplace have increased substantially. Then there is another group that has emerged which is into polyfidelity or polyamory. This may seem strange, but Tamil Nadu has a long history in polyamory."
Yet another heartening aspect about Chennai, according to him, is that youngsters are cautious when it comes to sex. "Most teenagers still don’t go all the way. They usually take precautions because awareness (about AIDS and sexually–transmitted diseases) is high in Chennai," Nagaswami, who has worked on projects with teenagers, said.
But even today, when it comes to learning about sex, youngsters still don’t know who to turn to. "Our knowledge of sex comes mainly from pornography. During my time, one had to go to Moore Market and wait at a particular place before a seedy–looking man came and gave you a magazine wrapped in a cover. Today porn is easily accesible online, and nothing is left to the imagination. That also leads to anxieties because people wonder why they aren’t as well–endowed as the porn stars," Nagaswami said.
He said even though cases of moral policing were being reported, the city, as such, had dropped its hypocrisy regarding sex during its transition from Madras to Chennai. "After all, even during the Chola period, the most flourishing profession was that of the devadasis. Once, in the village of Tiruvotriyur, the devadasis went on a strike, and the king’s intervention had to be sought – so eager were the residents on getting their sex lives back."