While all of us come to terms with the fact that we are going to be spending our first Holi indoors, standing by the window, staring out with melancholy expressions – imagining all those times we took gulaal and bhaang for granted, Aastha Atray has been at work, trying to spice up our holiday! Her latest short story, Colour Me Sexy, is an erotica based around…you guessed it, Holi! Aastha is the second Indian writer to write for Mills and Boons and she is a great champion of women reclaiming their sexuality. We talked to her about her writiing, women and sex…
Give us the lowdown. Are Indian women actually reading erotica?
Men have been allowed to explore their sexuality in the public arena in India since the beginning of time – to such an extent, that we see it displayed wherever we go. Women, being oppressed for so long, have only just begun to explore what it means to be openly sexual. It seems unusual for the culture that founded Kamasutra, but I have seen an overwhelming response for my books – and I see it as a massive positive. Women like to read about sex – and they like it a lot!
But isn’t it still being done quite secretly? What can we do to increase conversations about female pleasure?
I think the key is to normalise it. Women don’t even reveal to close friends that they watch porn or read erotica. Talk to your girlfriends about it! Discuss it like any other topic! It is a part and parcel of life and with every conversation you have about it, you make it easier for others to talk about it!”
There are already so many creators talking about female pleasure specifically in India on social media! It is helping to educate women about their bodies. A lot of this responsibility lies with creators. If you write, film, sing, joke – do it out, loud and proudly about female pleasure and see the change it creates in our conversations!
Do you feel erotica helps with body positivity?
The more conversations we have around our bodies, the more we share about how we view them. Those conversations always move towards sexuality because that is a major part of perceiving how we look. A lot of this is about confidence, which exudes beauty – and this applies to both the sexes. Women have really taken charge of increasing visibility across different sizes and so it is their time to shine. But I have also seen quite a few men starting to do makeup tutorials and videos about bodyshaming. They aren’t as loud and widespread and female creators, but I think it is an important conversation that needs to be had more often. Why should girls have all the fun?
Does it bother you that men often write erotica for women? That even in this space, they are controlling the narrative?
I sort of love it – men writing about female pleasure just makes it more accessible. Men are more visual and tend to watch porn rather than read, but they are a lot more likely to pick it up if it is written by a man. Why not let everyone experiment with what works for them. Men writing for a female audience shouldn’t really be a problem – the focus is still on the female character because the readers relate most to her – and that is what matters.