Oh my Greek God! Let’s talk about self-pleasure
A bunch of college students from Mumbai launched an initiative to encourage girls like them to talk openly about sex and female desire. Within a few months, they’ve earned a sizeable following, and the coveted blue tick from InstagramUpdated: Oct 12, 2019 22:56 IST
Masturbation, lust, desire, self-pleasure. Things we think about since we hit puberty and our hormones kick in but never really talk about openly. Well, boys talk about it. A lot. And girls? “Of course we think about it, but no, we don’t really talk about self-pleasure openly, not even with other girls,” say Kriti Kulshrestha and Mansi Jain, two among the five co-founders of the user-generated content platform about female fantasies and self-pleasure, ohmyhrithik.com.
It was in the winter of 2018 when Mumbai-based college mates Kriti, Mansi, Vaishali Manek, Suparna Dutta and Kevika Singla decided they wanted to start a conversation about female fantasies and self-pleasure. They had wanted to use this topic as part of their Bachelors of Mass Media (BMM) course class assignment. Their peers didn’t think it was a good topic, so they dropped it. But the connect with this topic was deep and real, and it lingered in the girls’ minds.
The more they discussed it, the more they knew they had to do something about it. “When we researched and discovered that keeping such feelings and thoughts bottled up leads to mental health issues such as depression, there was no further debate,” says Kriti.
Thus was born ohmyhrithik.com, a space for young women to express their fantasies, anonymously or otherwise. “‘Hrithik’ because that is the name of one of the most desirable men we know. Also, because in Lust Stories, Sumukhi Suresh’s character talks about female masturbation referring to Hrithik Roshan as a veritable ‘Greek God’, and we felt that made sense as an expression of one’s feelings instead of ‘OMG,’” say the girls.
A girl thing
Initially, the site and its social media handles attracted a lot of boys, “mainly because they thought it was about sex. But now, we have plenty of girls and the reception has been overwhelming,” says Kriti. “People were sceptical that we were just being sensational or copying boys but they realised that was not the case,” says Mansi, adding, “In fact, many of our male friends have told us that it has helped them understand women better, that they are getting to know more about girls’ fantasies.”
Growing up, the girls never discussed such things with their female friends. “We studied in a CBSE school but even in our sex education class, while the boys knew the pages and paragraphs of the sex education topic, the girls shied away. Even our teacher didn’t teach it and instead, told us to read it on our own!” says Kriti.
The girls want other girls to not stay anonymous when they post their thoughts on their platform, “because we should own our fantasies. It is not a bad thing. It is not something to feel guilty about. It is very normal. If you repress your thoughts and desires and feelings, then that is bad for you. Some people, girls and boys, have told us that who a girl desires is a private matter. But we are not forcing anyone. We have a lot of anonymous posts and that’s okay,” says Mansi.
Talk about it
The girls don’t want to just be an online presence. They have held discussions on this topic on campus at Delhi’s Miranda House, in a café in Jaipur, and in Mumbai too. “In Jaipur, we just had 20 girls. They were our friends and our friends’ friends. Many girls said they don’t know how to deal with their feelings of lust and desire. Knowing that it is okay really helps people,” says Kriti.
Their families are more than supportive about their social venture. “My parents thought I am doing something to do with feminism. They never really understood it. Then we got coverage on the front page of a newspaper in Jaipur, and they posted that on all their WhatsApp groups, which was hilarious! Being written about in the media was the ultimate benchmark of success for them,” recalls Mansi.
The girls are very clear that this site is not about dating or hooking up. “This is about self-pleasure and expressing your desires. It is for girls by girls. It is about mental health. We’re not saying you have to act out on your desires,” says Kriti. It is a different thing that she prefers not to be on dating apps and accesses them only over the weekends. “I download a dating app on a Saturday, check some profiles, don’t chat with anyone and on Sunday night, I delete it! Why? Because I don’t want to chat with creepy types who say ‘can I kiss you?’” says Kriti.
“We are a not-for-profit for now. We have campus ambassadors and volunteers working with us. We want to collaborate with writers, artists, poets and people who can help in the expression of this topic. We want to continue to grow in this space,” say the girls, who, for the time being, use their pocket money and savings to fund their work.
That the girls are not familiar with people such as Protima Bedi and Shobhaa De, who have been pioneers in giving a voice to female desire and self-pleasure, proves that theirs is an organic journey.
“And it doesn’t matter that guys might feel threatened by our openness or that they might feel we are too liberated. If guys can’t take it then they don’t deserve to know us. We ignore the negativity and sleazy comments and messages. We look at the bright side,” says Kriti.
One of the bright things was receiving an endorsement by actor Radhika Apte, who spoke about her fantasies on the OMH platform, which generated a lot of traffic.
Finally, do they know how Hrithik feels about being the object of their desires? “We have no clue if he knows about us or not,” say the girls. Mainly because, for the most part, this is not about him.
From HT Brunch, October 13, 2019
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First Published: Oct 12, 2019 22:54 IST