lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Virgin no more

It was a major moment for Rick Delanty.

The first African-American astronaut, wondering if he was chosen for his race rather than ability, in Niven and Pournelle's excellent 'what if' novel: Lucifer's Hammer, about comet strike and how Earth might cope with the aftermath.

First to match completely with Hammerlab: Fire the Apollo's attitude jets in just the precise pattern, so that it would tumble with the target. Then move closer to the thing, waiting for the chance, until the big docking probe on Apollo could enter the matching hole in the end of Hammerlab…and they were in darkness again. Rick was amazed at how long it had taken him to fly what looked like far less than a mile. Of course they'd also come 14,000 miles in the same fifty minutes…

When dawn came Rick was ready, and made one pass, and a second, and cursed, and eased forward and felt the slight contact of the two ships, and the instruments showed contact at the center, and Rick drove forward, hard…

"Virgin no more!" he shouted.

"Houston, this is Apollo. We have docking. I say again, we have docking," Baker said.

"We know," a dry voice said from below. "Colonel Delanty's mike was live."

Doing anything the first time is scary. Whether it is deciding to learn to play veena or blogging it requires a kind of mental diving off the highest board and trusting to luck. I felt like a virgin when I first ventured upon the seas of blogosphere. I felt like a virgin when I tackled my first cryptic crossword, too, for that matter.

Beginning a sex-life is equally perturbing.

In my younger days it was taken for granted that 'good' boys and girls did not fool around and have sex. They waited to be safely married to people chosen by family elders and that was that, mostly. Your exploration of your own sexuality began and ended there; in your marriage. Theoretically, at least.

Nowadays things are different. Young people seem to indulge in fornication more casually and without a thought towards matrimony, if you believe the media. But I have a fair number of young friends and all of them agonise about sex. Most of them are desperate to shed their status as virgins, a few notable others are trying to cling to their virginity as a badge.

It is a bigger deal for women, of course. Or, it used to be. I don't want to do a Khushboo, but she had it right, I am certain.

A young friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, had this to say in his blog (which is invitation only, but he gave me permission to quote him).

At twenty-four, I am still a virgin. I am not sure whether to feel proud or low about it. Guys in school are featuring on explicit MMS, and I am still lamenting my virginity! I feel like a loser when I read about scandals in schools. I cry foul, why do they get all the action? What is wrong with me? I even look better than those guys; what do I lack? Don't the girls have any taste?

He says he chooses to remain a virgin and reasons thusly:

Why should I feel low about it when I can make a virtue out of it. I can say the following:

I need to connect intellectually with the person before I have sex, and I can't sell myself short to just anyone who is willing.

I owe it to my wife .My wife deserves a *pure* husband. It is a sacrifice I am making for her.

Virginity will be the gift to the person I love .I am not an animal ready to sow its seed at every moment.

I have my rules, my values and my culture. I won't ape what others do.

Of course, he then spoils it all by saying that lack of opportunity plays a large part in virgins remaining virgins. He wonders if he had a chance to shed his virginity with a person he truly liked and desired, if he would still choose to remain a virgin.

Young people don't have privacy to indulge in amorous adventures in our country, for the most part. They have to sneak a few snogs in parks and be harassed by cops, heckled by hooligans and branded as promiscuous if they exchange a kiss in a discotheque. In such a moral climate, there is not much chance for them to shed their virginity in anything but a furtive fashion. How many young people can bring their significant others home and close the door of their room without their parents pitching a fit? How many young people have a room of their own, even?

Either way, philosophy always comes to your rescue. If I give in to my hormones, I can say that virginity is a state of mind and sex is the next big step in personal growth. I will always have words to justify my deeds, or the lack of it. (I will write later on the abuse of philosophy).

Till then let me be proud of being a virgin! One day, I will know if it was just pretence.

Shedding one's virginity is no joke. I sympathise with my young friend. I admire his honesty too, as he admits that he might choose to get deflowered before he is nicely and properly married. But I note that he says his virginity is a gift to a person he loves rather than a pesky formality to get through as he sows his wild oats.

I am not sure what young people think about the whole virginity issue, frankly. Media make it sound like they are emulating rabbits, sparrows and squirrels, but if that was the case, why would my young friend write as he did? Or the others, who are contemplating and debating the plunge, be so ambivalent about it?

Men have a need to spread their genes far and wide, and women have a need to find the best possible father for their children; it is mostly subconscious, but it is hard-wired, built into us.
But I must say most young people I know are a cautious lot, and are treating the first step into sexual adulthood as a major event, to be carefully thought out, as much as their careers and future plans are.



Blogger Generally_Speaking said...

Very interesting post. Having worked outside India for sometime, I am definitely glad that Indians do give some thought before losing their virginity. In the western countries, I was pretty much aghast to know that most guys and girls have their first sexual experience by the time they are in their mid teens. The mind boggles to be honest. It is extremely difficult to take a side on whether staying a virgin till marriage (in the Indian Context) is a good thing or a bad thing, because in my opinion its too complicated and personal an issue. At least one thing I am glad about. Nowadays, people openly talk about and discuss it as compared to what people used to do say 5-8 years ago.

7:20 pm  
Anonymous Non sequitor Man said...

Who said: "Once I had been deflowered, they lost all interest in me?"

Answer: Bill Clinton.

Explanation: The former President was visiting a village in Rajastan, where he had been greeted with the usual garlands. Monkeys took a vast interest in him and he was advised to ditch the floral tributes.

8:03 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Brilliant, Lali. The lead-in quote and the take-off from there. Good post, m'lady.

10:06 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Gen- You speak truth. Sexual freedom is more a thing media are making much of than a reality, as I see it.

NSM- Clinton gets chased by monkeys? How wonderful!

Ash- I hate repeating myself, but "Thank you kindly sir, she said."

10:52 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

hehe. I am a virgin and proud to be one. This is a slogan of the nerds and geeks. Those who didn't get any action, so to speak. they whine and now they blog.

11:06 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

The real issue is whether anyone other than yourself (and your family, perhaps) has any authority to dictate your sex life. Lack of opportunity (for the geeks) or ethics, morality, generosity or any thing (for the rest), as long as being a virgin is a personal decision and not an edict from government or religious institution, it is fine.

I think, being a virgin/having sex is way over-rated. Frankly all we do is mouth dialogues like parampara, sanskar, etc. etc. If you are an adult and u know wat it is to have safe-sex, then go right ahead and do it instead of obsessing over its absence, I think.

p.s. Lalita: I am sure Ramadoss, Thirumalvalavan and the kind don't blog but u never know. Be ready for death-threats ;-)

5:59 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rajesh- That was uncharitable. Not on my blog. Stop it.

Ram- You are damn straight it is a personal decision, and an issue we should devoutly hope doesn't get government edicts or religious spin. It is bad enough without having to wonder if you are breaking laws or taboos if you decide to have sex. :D

Oh. Death threats? You joke, Ram. Please tell me you are joking. :D

8:21 am  
Anonymous priya said...

personal decision or not, something like sex needs a _lot_ of look-before-you-leap, coz you can never ever be sure that there won't be any consequences or issues.

3:50 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Priya- This is a decision that depends on personal views and values. There are always consequences and there will always be issues. Like Ram, I think if one is an adult and is aware of the risks and practices safe sex, it is nobody else's business. :D

5:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do you know it's safe, unless you're vasectomized?

7:03 pm  
Blogger Praveen said...

i wouldn want to comment coz if "she" reads ur blog id be dead meat :D

8:11 pm  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Anon- It is not exactly about unwanted pregnancies. Safe sex includes a lot more issues, including how do you ask your prospective partner to produce a health certificate, or a blood test report; how do you know or verify he or she is not a carrier for any sexually transmitted disease, not to mention AIDS. The young people who are abstaining or not taking the plunge have good reason to do so.

Praveen- OMG! *clasping hands and swooning* My blog hero decides to drop in and post a comment. I must say my week is made. :D

9:36 pm  
Anonymous Rajesh said...

Sorry about the flippant remark.

But this anon guy, am assuming it is a guy, has no clue. You are talking about young people taking the plunge and he is talking about damage control.

I was going to say something about him but then, it's your blog and you don't allow sledging or name calling. Pity. I could have said a lot more about Anon's take.

10:18 pm  
Blogger Rimi said...

This, I could go into into great self-contradictory detail. I could. But I shan't. Because, you know, I shan't be near a comp again for a few days to see the reactions it might get :-)

But hey, Lali. Spot on as usual. How DO you do it?
1. It's bloody impossible to get cosy in this city/country. Even if you're living alone. In the bizarrest ways. I'll maybe expand later.

2. The inhibitions/moral codes/ IS hardwired into us. Which is why the self-proclaimed Queen Bee is so often so very loudly on the defensive. Nagging q in head-'Am I a slut? Am I?" You know? Part of the system.

3. Informed youngsters are cautious. They go together. Informed and safe.

Lali, sorry if I'm not making much sense. Came home not too long ago, am dead beat.

10:21 pm  
Blogger Speech is Golden said...

How safe is safe?

Remember 'Friends' where Ross finds out (too late) that condoms are only 97% effective. Imagine that happening to us. OK! Agreed that there is an element of risk. Not just of unwanted pregnancies but of STDs as well. The least we can do without resorting to celibacy is

1. Know the person you are sleeping with. Don't go to bed with strangers, even if they look like Tom Cruise (or Aishwarya Rai).
2. Avoid riding the wave of passion and having unprotected sex (jus b'coz condoms aren't readily accessible).
3. If u r not sure of it, don't do it. Don't succumb to pressure
4. And if u do get pregnant, confide in some elder of the family and get proper medical help (in case of abortion). There r too many quacks making quick money and they can kill u.

am sure others can come up with more do's and don'ts

7:16 am  
Blogger Lalita Mukherjea said...

Rajesh- You are being a paragon of restraint, I know. ;)

Rimi- I know, you are saying: the outlook might be modern, but the bringing up is traditional and conservative. How do young people reconcile these two opposites? Ergo major confusion time.

Ram- Excellent! Well-argued.

11:32 am  

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