Note: This article originally appeared on Storify. Unfortunately, they’ve decided to discontinue the platform. I didn’t like how the import-export of the content worked, so I decided to reproduce it here.
For most Indians, sex education is one vague class in high school, and it will leave us with more questions than answers. This coupled with the general discomfort around the subject gets people relying on the Internet for information, most of which are passed on to peers, unverified.
In the Indian public sphere, the conversations around sex are mostly about crimes.
How about positive conversations, such as the benefits of sex education, discussing consent, and representation of diverse sexual identities in mainstream art forms? How does this tie in with healthy cultural shifts, feminism, and becoming a better person on the whole?
Filmmaker and writer Paromita Vohra, who has documentaries on gender and pop culture to her credit, decided to make these positive conversations happen, and to normalise sex. The result? Agents of Ishq (AoI), a “multimedia project about sex, love, and desire”, according to the website.
I had the opportunity to interview her on Twitter, and what emerged was an insightful conversation on patriarchal attitudes, gender issues, and sexual identities, with a sprinkling of Paromita’s Bollywood recommendations. I had fixed a time for the interview, and she was late. The unassuming Paromita apologised, as we began the chat.
Sex education, consent, and the relationship between the two
She put across her points in simple terms:
Paromita believes that sex education, if well-imparted, can change a person for the better, teach them respect- for the self and for others. She believes a positive cultural shift can be effected through holistic sex education.
On the possibility of sex education facing resistance, and the Kamasutra cliché
She advocates a compassionate, rather than a judgemental discourse around sex and desire. Can this idea be applied to conversations around patriarchy too?
I ask her for examples to help me understand the idea of “create and suggest” as opposed to just criticise.
On Sec 377
The undying debate on Sec 377 cannot go unaddressed when you have a conversation with the brain behind AoI:
Through Agents of Ishq, Paromita aims to create a go-to site where people from all walks of life can comfortably discuss their issues and confusions, self-discovery, and have open conversations without being judged.
You can find innovative, fun, insightful discussions on Agents of Ishq.