Women’s sexuality is complicated and understudied. Popular culture is also more focused on male sexuality. We don’t talk about women and their sexual urges, thus making it more mysterious and nuanced. Men want sex, and women want romance, diamonds, flowers and chocolates.
The connections between arousal, orgasm, ovulation and age are not as straightforward as men and their urges.
All our Goddesses were not well-mannered, simple, docile and subdued spouses to the leading male God.
Some had no male partner, and some had many. Many of them were wild and sexually untamed.
Their life was as complex as possible and often shrouded in mystery.
In the grand Indian epic ‘Mahabharat’, one of my favourite characters is Kunti. She was the mother of five brothers collectively known as ‘Pandavas’.
There are many different versions of how she miraculously gave birth to three of the five Pandavas.
In the popular version, Pandu was married to Kunti, the adopted daughter of King Kuntibhoja.
At her father’s place, she served a great Sage Durvasa. Kunti served him that he blessed Kunti with several mantras with which she could call any God to father her child. Kunti used the mantra and called Surya, the sun-god out of curiosity. He appeared immediately and gave her a son. Frightened, as she was unmarried, Kunti put the child in a box and set it in the river.
Along with Kunti and Madri, his second wife, Pandu, went to the forest for hunting. Pandu received a curse that he would die if he had intercourse with a woman. Pandu desired to have children, so he consented to Kunti’s idea of having children using her boon. Kunti called three Gods to have three children, and she shared the boon with Madri, who used the mantras to call two Gods.
This story could be interpreted differently, but there was a male God, Kunti/then Madri and a child involved (with sex or without sex, we don’t know).
Once Pandu couldn’t resist the sexual charm of Madri and had forbidden sex with her. Pandu dies immediately, and Madri commits suicide. Kunti lived to ripe old age and played a prominent role with Draupadi, her daughter-in-law, in provoking Pandavas to fight the great war.
There are numerous German folktales where a woman who gave multiple children was considered an infidel, and the children never had a happy life or could survive long enough. Due to shame, women threw their children in the local pond or died under mysterious circumstances.
Arianrhod is a Welsh mythological figure who lived a promiscuous life gave birth to twins magically before term. One of her twins disappeared, and the other somehow survived. Astarte was an ancient Hebrew Goddess who was known for untamed sexuality. She, too, was known for carrying multiple kids but never carried babies to term.
Eos was a Greek goddess known to kidnap handsome men to satisfy her sexual desires. Once her love faded, she used to run away from them and later changed their form.
Mylitta was a Babylonian priestess of desire. She had high sexual energy and waited for strangers to have sexual intercourse.
Modern society has not figured out a way to understand and decode women sexually.
Women’s sexual desire is considered a natural biological and reproductive need. Beyond that, all sexual needs and wants are considered unnatural, evil and undesirable. Religion, society and laws are focused on the physical chastisement of women. Every rape victim has to prove still that she didn’t desire it. Someday, the research will delve deeper into a woman’s psyche to understand her definition of love, sexual desire and needs.
Image: Kunti and Sun God