Of the 64 acts of copulation in Vatsyayana's Kamasutra, women should agree to just four: Man on top of woman, woman on top of man, woman on man's lap and man and woman standing face to face.As part of research for the book, Indira also did a survey on contemporary Malayali women's sexual behaviour by sending questionnaires to 500 women across Kerala between March 2009 and July 2010. However, she got back only 100 filled-up sheets. Most of the answers conformed to male-dominated sexual mores. For instance, most women said they preferred the missionary position-men on top of them, as their favourite sexual position. "It only shows how entrenched patriarchy is, as its values are deeply internalised by women too. A majority of Malayali women who are supposed to be better off than her counterparts elsewhere in the country, also do not want to divulge their sexual behaviour, even confidentially," says Indira, a divorcee with a college-going son.
Indira points out that several major social prescriptions of Kamasutraare still in force in Indian society. They include the following-men should have wives or partners who are younger than them; they should marry from their own caste; they should take dowry; after marriage, men should take their brides to their own homes.
- Women should take care to retain their looks and health so that they don't appear older than their male partners. For this, women shouldn't rush into either marriage or pregnancy.
- Women should be allowed to have sex with married men in special circumstances: To help destroy enemies, to acquire assets owned by the person with whom one gets into a sexual relationship, to prevent one's secrets from being divulged, to get work done and to settle scores with an unfaithful husband.
- A desirable man is one who is able and knowledgeable, not ugly, not too poor or sick, is well-behaved and of sound character. He should not have unworthy friends or a large family.
A postgraduate in Malayalam literature and currently completing her doctoral thesis on radio plays, Indira says the world's first scientific work on sexual pleasure is a "work of, by and for man, written when woman's status in society was abysmal". Indira, who works as a senior programme executive with All India Radio's Devikulam station in Kerala's Idukki district, reels out evidence of the anti-woman nature of the 2,000-year-old sexual text. "Kamasutra says a man can have an active sex life from the age of 16 to 70. But what does it say about a woman's sexual age? Not a word."
Indira also points out that Vatsyayana thought that women were physically incapable of reaching orgasm through intercourse because a woman's sexual passion was eight times greater than that of a man.
Except in a chapter named 'Veshyadhikaran', where a woman's role is defined as that of a veshya or courtesan, whose duty is to provide the man sexual pleasure, Kamasutra is silent on how a woman should pursue kama or enjoy sensual pleasure, she says.
Sthraina Kamasutrarecommends two reasons for women to enter into sexual relationships with men.
- For love, but confirm that he deserves your love. Don't be blind in love and then be surprised at a betrayal.
- For material reasons. But sleep with him only after you get what you want from him and not before. Make sure you inform him in advance.
|WHY KAMASUTRA IS ANTI-WOMAN|
Indira's radical reinterpretation
According to Indira'sSthraina Kamasutra, all these are against the interests of women. "Women should have as partners or husbands men who are either of the same age or younger," says Indira.
Sthraina Kamasutra makes the point that women should insist that after marriage, the bride and bridegroom live in her house. "Taking the bride to the groom's house and relatives she is not familiar with makes her submissive and passive from the start," states Sthraina Kamasutra.
But for all her radical views on women's sexual rights, Indira's Sthraina Kamasutrastrongly opposes "free sex" and "live-in relationships". She says that these supposedly radical practices work against women's interests much more than even commercial sex or prostitution. She claims, "Prostitutes are often better placed than persecuted wives. In marriages, wives suffer even after they bring dowry for their husbands. But prostitutes can claim legitimate payment from men for their services. Men who say women have the right to free sex are actually doing them a disservice. It's just a ruse for them to sleep with them without having to pay."
Indira opposes live-in relationships and co-habitation as arrangements that help men evade their responsibility of taking care of children. "Men enjoy relationships for some time and then break off at will. The woman will be left alone to take care of children born from these relationships after the man leaves." She calls for fixing responsibility on men towards children born in such relationships.