I resent society's irrational fear of sex: An intersectional inquiry into youth sexuality in two Indian states

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This research investigates attitudes about sex, sexuality and sexual pleasure, as well as awareness regarding reproductive and sexual health among Indian youth. The study takes place against the backdrop of a sea change in India in the last few decades brought about by economic liberalization, accompanied by rapid commercialization and consumerism. This has in turn been accompanied by changes in sexual mores especially among youth in India. Most of the young people I interviewed were either sexually active or would like to be sexually active, outside of the socially prescribed conjugal context. Some of the young men shared with great candor their immense frustration at being unable to find sexual pleasure with a partner. Others had the freedom to explore various aspects of their sexuality; however their sexual behavior was often dangerous because of their lack of knowledge about safe-sex. The experiences of young women were shaped both by their gender and their families' class status. The young people I interviewed, regardless of whether they were sexually active, had one thing in common—namely a profound ignorance about issues related to sex, sexuality and sexual health. Girls and young women in most cases were either denied sexual education or found their ability to access information about sex highly curtailed. However, the narratives presented in this article also problematize easy categorizations of India as being homophobic and intolerant of non-heteronormative sexualities.

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