Let’s Talk about South Asian Sex

Shilpa Koshy photographed by Just Inspired Visuals


I am an Indian American woman and I have sex. 

Sex. It is happening right here in our own community. People are doing it in public bathrooms, with the same sex, in groups, with people who aren’t their significant others, on vacation, with paid professionals, on the floor, on the kitchen table, dressed in a leather harness with whip in hand, oral, anal-everything goes and yes, Indian people are doing it too! WHOAAAAA!

Did that statement just make you cringe? Sex is one of my favorite topics to discuss. I always hated that I wasn’t able to openly speak about it among other Indian men and women because I would automatically be judged or slut-shamed, which is exactly what happened after my recent Instagram post:

It was our first time seeing each other after three months. I stood there in lingerie and he came into the room disheveled, nervous and his nose running from walking around in the cold. I stood there awkwardly crossing my arms over my chest because I was insanely nervous and shy. We nervously hugged and kissed each other. Despite FaceTiming every day and sharing the deepest parts of ourselves with each other for those three months, I felt uncomfortable. I hadn’t kissed or touched him in months and it felt foreign.

After, we laid next to each other and reflected on how we felt (we are that couple that talks about feelings all the time). I was a jumbled mix of emotion. It was my first relationship after my divorce and I was still struggling with feelings of guilt and regret. I also hadn’t seen Isaac in months so I was bursting with excitement but also nervousness because it was still a new relationship and I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel when I saw him again. I felt uneasy with what just happened and I asked him if we could wait to have sex again until I felt I was ready. I wanted to feel that deep connection, that love, and for it to naturally flow rather than feel forced or expected.

This is when I noticed a huge shift in how I viewed and used sex. In the past, I used it to validate my self-worth. It was how I fed my ego, silenced my insecurities, and “empowered” myself. I used it for all the wrong reasons. This unhealthy practice started from my first time. As many other first times go, I was pressured into having sex and all I wanted was to feel loved, cared for and special. I continued this unhealthy thinking for the rest of my adult life until I began to reflect on my actions, my unhealthy behavior patterns and the meaning behind them all.

Why do I do what I do?

Once I started this journey of learning how to love myself, I realized that sex to me was no longer something I want to use to falsely connect with someone. I want to do it because I am in love, it feels right and it is one of the many ways I express my love with my partner. The false sense of love that sex was creating was reliant on me pleasing others and me receiving their approval. My need for self -love and deeper connection was disguising itself as a high sex drive. I still love sex and have a healthy sex drive, that definitely has not changed, but what I love more is that I no longer use it to validate myself and to feel loved.

After posting this, I received messages and comments from other women who had gone through similar situations or were still struggling with using sex to find their self-worth. It is always comforting when you don’t feel alone in your battles. This is why I have chosen to share mine. That is what being human is all about making mistakes, overcoming them, learning from them, and allowing them to transcend you to the next level of knowledge and wisdom.

Along with the messages of support, I also received messages shaming me for story that I chose to share. “Everyone thinks you have gone crazy,” said one commenter. “You’re embarrassing yourself and your family,” said another. “You’re ruining your reputation,” yet another.

Keep in mind that I am a 32-year-old divorcee. If you don’t know that I’m no longer a virgin, then surprise! It’s interesting how when I finally choose to be authentic and speak about something like sex, people squirm and become uncomfortable.

I am a first generation immigrant. Growing up, it was always a struggle trying to balance the traditions and values of my Indian culture and those of my American surroundings. Sometimes trying to find a balance between the two made me want to pull my hair out. So then I thought, maybe I can be the more traditional version with my family and with other Indians and then the more American version of myself would be shared with those who were more open-minded.

India is the land of the Kama Sutra which depicts 245 sex positions-a majority of which don’t even seem humanly possible, yet it is taboo to speak about sex openly. Women are expected to stay virgins until they get married, but apparently still know how to have sex like a porn star when they do. Can anyone else make sense of that concept? You have to know how to have sex like a nympho all while never having seen or touched a penis or vagina?!

A priest had once shared with me that he was counseling an Indian man who wanted to divorce his wife because she did not have sex like he had seen in pornography. This almost blew my mind. If you’re expecting your first time to be anything like what you see on Redtube, you are in for a surprise and not a pleasant one.

Then you have my American culture, where there are sexual innuendos everywhere, even in Disney movies. We are the land of the popular phrase “sex sells.” Then throw in normal human curiosity and teenage hormones and that equals an extremely confused brown woman who is constantly fighting herself, who feels the pressures of having sex, feels normal human urges, but also the guilt and shame from actually thinking about doing it before marriage. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it.

I have no regrets when it comes to my sexual journey. It is how I got to where I am today. It is an important part of my life and sex is a human need that I no longer want to associate with guilt or shame. Everyone is doing it, so let’s have open dialogue without judgment so it’s no longer a topic that elicits shame or embarrassment. For me, multiple partners and various sexual experiences, meant more confidence in the bedroom. Writing this was my way of screaming from a rooftop “I am an Indian-American woman and I have sex.”

Learn more about Shilpa’s thoughts on life and love @makeupbyshilpa

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