Married or mom, bachelor or baba-ji, love can suddenly take a backseat. More millennials are asexual than sexually active, say surveys. Barring when in labour or getting chemo, more people are opting for me-time out of choice. Time was when it took two, a threesome or a gang to tango, but now make way for the solo artiste. Don’t lie back and think of motherland, don’t go on fours, go down, be on top, give head, tail or even mid-section anymore; say no and stay hot.
Means to meet new mates multiply, but don’t imply eternal couplings. As society finds its dating feet, it’s realising its non-sexual prowess, thanks to long dry spells. And where is the nosy neighbour who twitches her curtain? If nothing’s forbidden, what is a transgression? Of course what goes on between the sheets stays between the sheets, but is there little less action and little more conversation these days?
Old Habits Have Died
No more arranged marriages at gunpoint, booty calls go unanswered, and #MeToo is a thing. There are the rabidly pining, whose frantic texts get just a J in return, and cuckolds who wait forever and a day, all per force in no-nookie land. Those who won’t, those who can’t and those who don’t.
One man’s kinky is another man’s missionary. Up against a wall like Tom Hiddleston-Elizabeth Debicki in
The Night Manager, or in bed with roles reversed like Ryan Reynolds-Morena Baccarin in Deadpool, even faking it seated in a café, like Meg Ryan-Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally, lust’s been there, done that; gotten vertical, horizontal and all other positions, yawn.
The idea of tapping into sexual energy like you would toddy or rubber is rooted in ancient texts; unspent bodily fluids were said to boost morality. Carnal impulses were smothered or tethered. Some women were put into a chicken coop - the red light area - and some on a pedestal to serenely emanate a white light, and the rest of the women, pale and anaemic, distributed evenly among households to breed and cook.
Brahmacharya or kanya-pan, or whatever the Sanskrit for permanent virginity is, was the traditional mode to stay single. The same virginity that failed to cast a glow on a spinster’s face, was unfailingly a bulb of high wattage if she prayed for a profession. They fasted and chanted, heads bald and bodies frail, their hymen alone healthy as a horse. Right below ‘never having done it’ ranks ‘giving it up for good’; the widows of Benaras and the Satis were similarly blessed with internal electricity.
Me, Myself and I
In the new scenario though singlehood needs no halo; it is just the preferred company we keep – our own. When Auden said, ‘Envy warps the virgin as she dries,’ sex toys hadn’t been invented. Single is also about maintaining sexual hygiene. Nothing about venereal disease is easy, starting with its spelling.
For all those who frantically waited for that ping on their phone, roaming around in the dumped wilderness for a long, long time finally brings hormonal nirvana. This is not about bypassing sex, but about tuning into self. No walk of shame, no sending flowers next morning. Just home and dry. De-sexing is all about taking the scenic route. If you don’t feel like it, then don’t. Lie back and... just lie back.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.