East Meets West on Sex?

Recently, a health care website, mDhil, polled its English-speaking, upper-class audience of Bangalore, India on the issue of sex before marriage, posing the following question: “Would you marry a non-virgin?”  The answers were not consistent across the board, but it looks as though this young generation definitely has an opinion of sex before marriage: it’s a Western kind of thing.

An editor of the website noted that young Indians are more open to sexual experimentation than their parents, treating sex as a “recreational activity.”  Falling within an age range of 20s to30s, this website’s younger audience is a slice of Bangalore’s office culture, in which men and women are intermingled in a work environment and “behaving like young Westerners.”

However, traditional Indian values are still evident in this generation, as Indian parents impress upon their children that virginity is “a mark of character,” while sex before marriage is “taboo.”  One respondent of the poll, a lawyer based in Bangalore, said, “We may be Western on the outside but we are Indian at the core.”  That is why this divided generation’s overwhelmingly response to the website poll was a yearning for a “Maybe Virgin.”  As this opinion becomes more and more prevalent among younger Indians, some virgins feel the pressure of trying to fit in with their sexually experienced peers by posing as non-virgins, finding it easier to lie about their virginity as opposed to carrying around a “virgin stigma” among their peers.

Is it a fair statement to make that sex before marriage is a Western concept? Does the West tolerate a higher level of affection and sensuality?  Could this tolerance speak to a lack of propriety and morals in the West, or is sexual liberalism now the mainstream concept and the Indian traditionalist perspective the extreme outlier?

Original source from The New York Times

One comment

  1. I think that in the majority of the countries if you look at the core or their founding beliefs and underlying religions, you will find that most countries, at least traditionally, fall on the side of waiting to have sex until after marriage. However, over the centuries many countries have evolved from those traditional values and are now addressing a more liberal way of thinking. For this reason, I would say that western culture was traditionally rooted in celibacy but in modern times had become much more liberal and relaxed on these notions. As such, I don’t think it is really fair to call this a western problem as much as it is a trend of modernization. Indeed, as shown in the discussion on India, the tradition is there but modern views are starting to take effect on a previously strict tradition. As a result, I think the real question is how far countries are willing to deviate from their traditional roots rather than seeing the west as a corrupting influence.

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