Does love come with a price?

By Indira Laisram
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Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

I open my backlog of weekend newspapers having been away and enjoy going through the spread of magazines and supplements with my morning cup of tea. A cover story on Spectrum, my favourite Saturday supplement of The Age, catches my attention. Titled ‘Between The Sheets’, it is as the synopsis says, about how the new sexual revolution is wrecking lives. I read the article with utmost interest but I find it is not so much about extra marital affairs or one-night stands or free love or liberation, but more about the fact that people don’t talk about sex, that they don’t have someone they feel comfortable enough to talk about it especially when they have a problem! So, they talk about “about bullshit or fantasy stuff”.

My exposure to sex on Indian television when growing up was watching two flowers bobbing together to depict any kissing scenes between two lovers. That was the high. Then came a bit of boldness with time and we did see a few kisses on screen, you know real lip locks but these were viewed with great embarrassment especially when you had the rest of the family members also glued to the TV.

Sex is such a taboo even now in India that we judge a person’s morality on the basis of the number of boyfriends she has had. If a woman has not married the first guy she has gone around with, and if she has had more than two boyfriends, we easily define her as a slut! And that is in the land of the Kamasutra where the erotic sculptures in the centuries old temples of Khajuraho are the cynosure of all eyes and explore every position that the human imagination can capture.

“There is an oil party in a communal living in Germany. Dripping in oil, naked bodies are huddled together. There is no sex there but as the music and chants play in the background the group is shown getting into a trance-like state as they slip and slide and feel one another”

Few years ago, I remember watching the Dawn O’Porter (British writer, director and television presenter) show, where the then 29-year old single journalist explored the idea of free love and travels the world—from America to Germany—to find the existence of a Utopian culture, for those who believe in it. Yes, these things do exist and I had my education about a culture that left me hot and debating! In the places that Porter visits, there is a community where men and women while being monogamous have more than three or four lovers. For many, it is not so much about physical education, about controlling ejaculation or becoming more interested in sex but more about celebrating togetherness with the ones you love. There is total openness.

There is an oil party in one such communal living in Germany. Dripping in oil, naked bodies are huddled together. There is no sex there but as the music and chants play in the background the group is shown getting into a trance-like state as they slip and slide and feel one another. Porter is shown participating in it and comes out feeling weird and laughing! Everyone else is serious. One member says, “We are not connecting through sex but through love and energy.”

The show does say that a lot of polyandry comes through swinging but the only difference here is that the friendship grows and it is not partner swap! I could not imagine watching such a show in India. But it was an eye opener.

I like the idea that the media here is equipped with the boldness to explore every issue. And it also has to do with an audience that has the maturity to handle these shows or read about such things. As for free love, I don’t know if it sounds great. I am not judgmental about people pursuing free love but I think all love in life is not truly free and comes with a price.


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