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Talking Sex, Pleasure and Orgasm Equality With a Sex Educator

We discuss the state of sex education and porn in India, the misconceptions surrounding women’s bodies & much more!

Updated
Let's talk sex
5 min read

Illustrations: Arnica Kala

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia

Producer: Saakhi Chadha

(Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day is held annually on 12 February. FIT is republishing this article in that light.)

“Very commonly in India, when parents are teaching young toddlers the names of their body parts, they’ll refer to their genitals as ‘shame-shame’. You are basically teaching a four-year-old that their genitals are irrevocably linked to shame,” says Leeza Mangaldas, a sex-positive content creator working towards normalising conversations around sexuality, pleasure, orgasm equality and more.

In a candid interview, she opens up about the state of sex education and porn in India, the misconceptions that surround women's bodies and pleasure, and what questions she is most commonly asked by her audience.

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Talking Sex, Pleasure and Orgasm Equality With a Sex Educator
(Illustration: Arnica Kala)

What questions are you most frequently asked by your followers?

Leeza: A lot of my cis-heterosexual female followers ask about orgasms:

“Could you let me a little bit about women’s orgasms?”

“I’m 35 and I don’t think I have ever had an orgasm.”

It’s about the basic anatomy. So many women don’t know that they don’t menstruate from the same hole that they pee from. How many people have even taken a hand mirror and looked at their vulva? For women, that is a part of the body that isn’t easily visible. Men get to take a look every time they go to the bathroom. But for women, you really have to sit down with a lamp and a mirror, and take a look. And I highly my viewers (and everybody else) to do that. It’s just another part of your body. Imagine if you had never seen your hand or face before!

I get a lot of questions also about masturbation: whether it is okay to masturbate.

“Is it okay to masturbate?”

“Will I go to hell if I masturbate?”

“Will I get blind if I masturbate?”

There are all these misconceptions entangled with shame and fear around masturbation and exploring your own sexuality.

I also get a lot of questions from men about penis size. I think that’s a big body insecurity that porn has created for men: “Do women have a minimum size requirement?”

Talking Sex, Pleasure and Orgasm Equality With a Sex Educator
(Illustration: Arnica Kala)
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Speaking of porn... What makes it so problematic?

Leeza: In a country with no sex education, the reality is that  porn is serving as ‘sex education’ for most young people in the internet age. A 10-year-old has no understanding of whether this is the reality or not, of whether this tape was consensually filmed or not, of whether this tape was consensually disseminated, whether the act is consensual, whether these are actors or real people. etc. The world of mainstream porn on the internet is not regulated sufficiently.

Talking Sex, Pleasure and Orgasm Equality With a Sex Educator
(Illustration: Arnica Kala)

Demystifying women’s pleasure: Where do we begin?

Leeza: I think masturbation can be incredibly empowering for women for a number of different reasons. It is a great way to navigate and understand your own pleasure and anatomy. Many people realize that their bodies are capable of more pleasure than they even thought was possible, because so often, penetrative sex doesn’t access that degree of pleasure. There is more to sex than penetration, but sadly we are taught that penis and vagina equals sex, and when he comes, sex is over. Often, that results in zero orgasms for women.

There is a need to first acknowledge, and then unlearn, the relentlessness with which woman’s sexuality has been policed, surveilled and censured for centuries. I have talked in a video about how there are a lot of misconceptions around the hymen, and that most people think that you have to bleed the first time you have sex. That is simply not true! Biologically, that is not how the hymen works. Some women might bleed. Some women don’t. It is not a wall. It’s a stretchy tissue, more like a scrunchy.

Talking Sex, Pleasure and Orgasm Equality With a Sex Educator
(Illustration: Arnica Kala)
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Sex education: Where do we get it wrong?

Leeza: Very commonly in India, when parents are teaching young toddlers the names of their body parts, they’ll refer to their genitals as ‘shame-shame’. You are basically teaching a four-year-old that their genitals are irrevocably linked to shame.

In terms of what quantity or frequency of sex education they receive in school or at home, the vast majority of my Indian audience said none. A few said that there was the reproductive chapter in biology that most of the teachers simply rushed through. There were giggles and winks. It was as if this is just a formality, and we’d rather not talk about it.

There’s no conversation around pleasure. There is also no conversation around the accurate anatomy, specially for women. I don’t think the clitoris gets mentioned in school or at home. So for women, sex is only acceptable post marriage and to have babies. Nobody’s interested in women’s orgasms.

It’s the same with something like safety. There is so little information about contraceptive options. Most people only know about condoms. They still don’t always use them. They don’t realize, for example, that oral sex can transmit an STD.

I like to say that imagine a world where all sexual experiences are consensual, safe and pleasurable. We’d all like to imagine that world. But I think there’s a lot of work before we get there.

Talking Sex, Pleasure and Orgasm Equality With a Sex Educator
(Illustration: Arnica Kala)

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