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5 questions with Dr. Bhakti Murkey on Sanskari sex ed and sexuality!

Consulting Psychiatrist, Dr Bhaktii Murkey puts together the ultimate sexuality manual for you...

In our country we have a sanskari brand of sex education which is mostly about the social ideas and constructs, the various possibilities and fears around sex and not about actual sex and sexuality.

Most schools tend to take a biological approach to sex education and conveniently cut out the important topics that you need to know, just because they are uncomfortable issues to talk about.

Medically accurate information about your body and sexuality however is your basic right. Precisely why, Teentalk decided to get you some professional guidance on the matter.

Read on as Teentalk ropes in Consulting Psychiatrist, Dr Bhaktii Murkey for an interview on all things teen sex and sexuality…

TT: Can you tell us about teen sex and if it is safe?

BM:

  1. Sex is an expression of the human body and mind. Like hunger and thirst, it is man’s biological need which demands to be fulfilled as the body matures.

  2. Sexual encounters allow fulfilment of this need, expression of our feelings and desires, pleasure seeking, space for communication in relationships and the opportunity to explore the psychological after effects of these encounters.

  3. Sex is not bad or dirty or something to be ashamed of.

  4. Sex is not a synonym for achievement. It is not something to be judged or looked down upon.

  5. It is personal. It is a choice. It is an agreement between two people. Not everyone needs to know.

  6. With power comes responsibility. Similarly, with the opportunity to explore and engage in sexual behaviour comes the responsibility to ensure safety of health and wellness.

  7. It is normal to masturbate or explore your sexuality, as long as it is done within safe confines and without making anyone uncomfortable with the same.

  8. NO is a complete statement. Consent comes first. Communicate with your partner.

  9. It is ok if you do not find yourself fitting in a box (male/ female/ cisgender). Being queer (something that does not fit in) is alright. Sexuality is a dynamic process and not knowing where you belong yet does not make you abnormal.

  10. If you find yourself unable to talk about sex, have questions unanswered, feel guilty or anxious about something you have done or want to do, find yourself too preoccupied with sexual thoughts, or are afraid of discrimination from peers/ society... please talk to someone who understands. Talk to that trusted friend, teacher, guardian or even a professional if needed.

You are not alone.

TT: What is the difference between sexual identity and sexual orientation?

BM:

  • Sexual orientation is different from sexual identity. Sexual identity tells you who you relate with, who you are – male/ female/ transgender/ queer. Sexual orientation is which sex you are attracted to, based on who you are drawn to sexually, romantically or emotionally. Orientation could be heterosexual (straight), homosexual (lesbian/ gay), bisexual or asexual.

  • While these are mere labels that one can identify with, for some people they are not clear boundaries. These labels of orientation have great emotional meaning and can impact one’s social existence.

  • Most of us identify with the gender that we were physically born with (identified as a female if born with vulva and male if born with penis). This allows easy conformation to social norms. For those among us who struggle with identifying ourselves beyond our gender – family rearing practices in childhood, role models, and contemporary socio-cultural traditions (defining gender roles) play a vital role.

TT: How can I identify my sexual preferences? How do I know if I am gay?

BM:

  • Sexual orientation is a result of – genetic, hormonal and social factors. It is not an abnormality or a choice that one can make at will.

  • Research has shown that sexual orientation in a person can change over the years. It is determined by biological factors that can even date back to your prenatal. Rearing practices however have not shown to have a role in shaping orientation. Exposing a boy child to toys meant culturally for girls (dolls) won’t cause him to be gay.

  • Despite having gender role stereotypes, masculine/ feminine traits do not predict sexual orientation. Assumption of orientation based on looks or styles is nothing but mere judgment passed on someone’s being, without knowing better.

  • We should understand that it is one thing to have sexual encounters with those of the same sexual identity, but it is another to have a sexual orientation towards them. There is nothing wrong with not knowing one’s accurate orientation. At times people experiment with their orientations to determine what suits them. Although sexual orientation begins developing early, it is known to transform over years.

  • Only you know if you are gay. No other person can tell you about your orientation. There are indicators of knowing what your orientation is.

  • Who am I sexually attracted to? With whom do I have sexual relationships in person? Who do I have sexual fantasies about (during day dreaming or masturbation or purely imagination)? Who am I emotionally connected with? Who do I mostly socialize with? Who do I prefer to spend time with (people with heterosexual orientation or gays/ lesbians)?

TT: Can you tell us about the invisible LGBT Community and gay rights in India?

BM:

  • Logic and humanitarian principles speak of equal rights for the differently oriented. Right to express choices, to have a relationship, to feel as welcome as the conventional couples, to be accepted by the close family and friends, right to legal recognition of a matrimonial arrangement if desired, and perhaps one day, social acceptance.

  • What we need is a new mindset, to not allow normal human beings to suffer due to their natural need to be different.

  • Any amount of therapy, treatment or persuasion won’t change someone’s orientation. Therapy for the LGBT is largely about understanding oneself, accepting self completely and accommodating to the society with or without ‘coming out’.  It speaks more about the emotional process that one goes through in learning the less conventional qualities about oneself and coming to terms with it.  It is about facing fear and discrimination.

TT: What is consent? Why is it important?

BM:

  • Consent is primary in sexual intimacy. It means that one is taking into consideration one’s partner’s willingness and readiness to engage in a sexual act with each other. It is about communication, and should be clear and consistent.

  • Consent is not implied when someone is silent or when you refuse to take no for an answer. It is also not implied when someone wears certain clothes or flirts or is under intoxication/ undue duress. Marriage also does not imply consent.

  • As one learns to become more aware and sure of one’s sexual identity, it also involves the process of relating with people, considering their emotions, boundaries and choices, while making our own. In other words, being confident of one’s sexuality also involves knowing and respecting another person’s journey of the same and engaging with them only in a consensual manner.

 

 If you have any more queries or questions on sexuality you can write to our experts at [email protected]


 

 

 

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The power of positive self-talk

Psychiatrist Parul Tank talks about common adolescent issues and encourages them to take therapy

A tumultuous family tragedy coupled with a dearth of a doctor in the family prompted Parul Tank to pursue MBBS. In pursuit of becoming a doctor, she chose psychiatry and aims to be ethical in her practice. She recalls the space of mental health 15 years back, and says, “there was stigma attached to the term.” 15 years hence, at least we are talking about it.

In her years of working with Fortis Hospital (Mulund), Asian Heart Institute (Bandra Kurla Complex) and privately seeing clients, she has dealt with “a lot” of adolescents. “A lot of them come because parents bring them,” she says. Some of the common concerns are anxiety, depression, substance abuse, rebellion and angst.

She shares a story about a 15-year-old girl who encountered bullying in school. Instances of teasing piled up that resulted in the teenager avoiding school for almost one-and-a-half year. The bullying gave rise to low self-esteem and a complete lack of self-worth. This not only built her anxiety, but also affected her academic performance.

One of the ways Tank counselled her was to indulge in positive self-talk. “I am worthless became, I am worthy,” she quips. It took almost three months for the young girl to regain her sense of equilibrium and go back to school. She then gave her exams. Some of the techniques that Tank uses in her counselling are Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), REBT and mindfulness.

Was it satisfying helping a teenager get back on track? “Very satisfying. Many people have a aha moment where they wish they had come for therapy earlier,” she says. In an afterthought, she adds that, “even if I make a minuscule of a difference in someone’s life, I feel good.” 

If you have a story to share, Email it to us HERE.

If you have a query, Email it to us HERE.

You can also chat with the counsellor by clicking on Teentalk Expert Chat.

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