42 Y.O. Natasha On Returning To India After 2 Decades In The US, Only To Be Constantly Labelled
- IWB Post
- December 4, 2018
Accept it or not, our concepts of ourselves and our body have a lot to do with the society that we live in. For instance, when it comes to India, we, for some reason, cannot (accompanied by an attitude of “will not”) comprehend the idea of a liberated woman seeking all that she desires.
Thus, we somehow, directly or subtly, condition our women to aspire to become just how we like them, i.e. absolutely neat and clean and sanskaari. Among the many things that get sacrificed at the altar of this virginal utopia, a woman’s sexual desires are perhaps the first ones.
Women’s agency and their stake in sexual pleasure is the last thing we want to discuss or even pay any heed to as a country. It’s invisible, insignificant, and also inconvenient. The idea of a woman wanting, having, or enjoying unapologetic sex strikes so many as downright revolting, an abomination of the highest degree.
But what happens when these conditions are not fulfilled and a woman decides to approach sex just like men do – simply for the heck of it, or to put it more concretely, just for carnal pleasure? She is immediately labeled. Her libido is preposterous, almost monstrous, her ultimate undoing. She is a cunt, a whore, a slut, and what not.
A Global Leader Procurement professional, 42-year-old Natasha witnessed the ins and outs of this attitude as she moved from India to the US at a young and impressionable age and then came back to India years later, older and wiser.
Natasha shares with IWB, “When I was in India, I was always an oddball because I never fit within the norms. I constantly broke the rules.”
“I was exploding at the seams and was yearning to explore, experiment, make mistakes, and get things going. I was never good academically; I was totally into learning by the road and the experience. I thought everybody on the street could teach you something,” she adds.
It was Natasha’s reluctance to fit into the molds of womanhood and femininity in the country that resulted in her first brush with labeling. She says, “I was a total tomboy in high school and that really impacted my thought process as an adult woman.”
Growing up, Natasha strongly identified with George from The Famous Five. Sadly, when it came to the society that she lived in, it wasn’t about her self-concepts, rather it was always about how she was perceived and whenever she was, the scrutiny came along inevitably.
Everybody constantly made her feel like she was more of a guy than a girl and it started having an impact on her emotionally because she started doubting herself.
She adds, “I was always the ‘rebel’. I think this label has always been with me when it comes to Indian society. I was never the ‘typical girl’. I mean, I wasn’t shy of boys, had a good laugh, and thus tags came in plenty. With every step I took, I ran the risk of adding a new one to the glossary.”
However, life did a 180 for Natasha the day she moved to the US. She shares, “The minute I went to the US I was label-free, nobody slotted me as the tomboy anymore, or the brown girl, or the immigrant, nothing. Luckily for me, the politics and dynamics of the place were very different back then from the current scenario. Things were so uncomplicated in the US, it was like some kind of cleansing for me, I was like ‘wow, no labels here!'”
Natasha was in her formative years when she moved to the US. She shares, “I was just beginning to discover what my own body was, I was getting a grip of it, and of what it could do.”
She adds, “I learned that you have to be absolutely comfortable in your body and that’s how you are going to make other people feel comfortable about yourself.”
Everything was essentially different in the sense that everything was so nuanced in India, all things pertaining to an adolescent woman, be it her undergarments or her menstrual cycle, had to be discussed in hushed tones. But it was drastically different in the States.
Natasha made the best use of the opportunity and took in everything that she could of the American lifestyle. She learned some important lessons. Like she shares, “I learned that it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and no one is gonna come and protect you. You are on your own and you have to protect yourself.”
She adds, “Most importantly, I learned about the power that the human body had over itself and over others. How you can control somebody’s mind through body language is something that I learned very quickly and hell yeah I went buck wild crazy in experiencing that!”
“I had a great self-esteem and always considered myself the whole package. I had fun discovering, exploring, experimenting. That’s what teenage years are all about and that’s what I did. I was like, the more the merrier (laughs) and didn’t think “Oh my God, mummy kya kahengi!””
Natasha comes from a very open-minded family and that worked in her favour as well. Most importantly, there were no relatives who could come and say “Look what your daughter’s doing!”
When life and circumstances brought Natasha to her second innings in India, the labeling hit her right in the face yet again. However, this time she was much more experienced and wiser and could see through the shame game, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t take a toll on her.
She shares, “After I came back to India, I was much older and I was single and suddenly I was the slut, the cunt, the man-eater, and the whore. And why? Because all my friends were married and they thought I’d just take away their men. I was labeled; I was just the American hoe on the loose who’ll claim all the men. Even now, a lot of my friends don’t invite me to gatherings.”
Natasha was judged for things she didn’t even do but was considered capable of doing and for having an opinion. Suddenly, everything she was doing was under the scanner, right from what she wore to whom she dated.
She gives an example, “I have dated younger men both in the US and India, and the difference in how it is received says it all. Back in America, it was no big deal, the society was pretty non-judgmental, and it never mattered whom I was dating.”
However, in India, the instant people around Natasha got a whiff of whom she was dating, and the fact that he was a younger man from a different religion, it became “blasphemous.”
“So now I am the cougar, the sugar mamma, and the slut. I am told that he’s after my money. I am asked questions like, “He’s so gorgeous, what does he see in you?” And it’s actually some of my closest friends who say all of this,” she says.
She adds,” Other than that, India makes me very, very conscious of my age and my body. My personality has changed here and I am not very proud of it. Every now and then, I am told things like “You are in this age group so you shouldn’t be doing these things.” It hasn’t been very pleasant.”
Natasha feels that the saddest thing here is that “this country thrives on self-doubt.” She explains, “This whole pretense of what zip code you live in, what car you get down from, what bag you carry is absolutely horrifying and bothers me to the core. Also, I don’t understand the male and female nuances. I’d be as comfortable around a man as I’d be around a woman and a lot of people here don’t get it at all. Women judge me for this, men take it as a signal that they can do however they please, and when I turn them down, they don’t understand it and think I am being snobbish or a bitch.”
She also feels that her sexuality is being profaned by being constantly questioned. Natasha explains, “The minute they look at me, they are like, “Oh she’ll just go with everyone.” All the husbands think I am gonna screw them, It’s like you are a slut, you are a whore but they’d love to be with you.”
To make things worse, lately, Natasha’s body image has taken a hit. She shares, “My body image is at zero right now because Indians are so fucking judgmental about how you look. They don’t care about anything else, it’s just about how you look. I never had this problem when I was in the US, I was always very confident about my body and about my sexual premise.”
“In India, I am extremely conscious and constantly judged about the way I walk, talk, or wear something. How fair is this? While we constantly strive to change the way we dress, or look, or live, will we ever try to change the way we think? Why can’t a woman just be whoever she wants to be in this country,” she concludes.
Such repression in a society like India, the land of Kamasutra, sad isn’t it? Constantly striving to be a wholesome voice in contemporary feminism, IWB has thus come up with the campaign “ The Cuntry” to stand up for sexual choices of women for pleasure and not just for procreating. The campaign will take you across the country as we navigate the sexuality of women, how it has been repressed all this while, and seek ways of freeing it.
Campaign partner Kamasutra has joined us in our quest and will help us in taking you across the Cuntry as we navigate the dynamics of women’s sexuality in India and attempt to free it from the confining fetters of repressed ideologies.
We invite you to bring your love/lust stories to find power in the spoken word and set yourself free. We’d love to know how you rose above the burden of stigma that the society so liberally throws on our shoulders. We seek your stories to inspire, empower, and liberate those hesitant to make the first move towards claiming their agency in sexual pleasure.
But wait, we have something more to get you excited. Kamasutra is offering a 10% discount to everyone who uses our special campaign coupon code ‘CNTRYKS’. This discount is over and above current discounts /offers running on the KamaSutra range. (Approx. 15% discount is offered on all their products on the platform.) Now, how exciting is that! Click here to avail our reader special discount.