One evening while returning home from a job interview, I telephoned Pritha my college friend. I wanted her personal stories on sex for my blog. Pritha and I know each other for 15 years and we were roommates once. Together we have shared many meals, leisure walks, late night conversations, and endured many heartaches. I was near sure to get a sexual narrative from her but I was left disappointed as she said –

‘Pallavi, I have no problem sharing my sexual stories but the challenge is it is not limited to me. It involves one more person that is my husband. And he might not be comfortable.’

I wonder, what is it about sex that makes it a secret, a private matter? I believe, as adults we all know what sex is, even an adultery for that matter. We all know what happens between a man and a woman inside a closed room. It is an absolutely normal behavior!

Here, I would like to refer to the book ‘The Story of a Marriage – by Dennis Covington, Vicki Covington’. The book is an autobiographical tale of Covingtons, a married writer-couple. In it they describe their alcoholism, drug use, her abortion, and their numerous adulterous affairs. The book caused quite a stir, not because of their personal revelations, but because of their sexual revelations. In a certain chapter of his book, Dennis Covington talks about relationship between sex and privacy.

“Consider this – If I told you that I like spinach but I don’t like asparagus, it will be a normal discussion. But if I told you same comparable facts about my sexual preferences—I like to do it this way but not that— you’d be shocked. Even if what I revealed is perfectly conventional and is shared by most heterosexual couples.”

“If I told you I had sex with my wife the night before leaving for South Africa, that would be an unusual thing for me to reveal. Even though it is a fairly common fact.”

He then explains why sex is a private matter because of a ‘phony disguise’ problem.

“Each one of us have a public face and a private face. We have an inner life of thoughts and attitudes that it would be disastrous to make public. We don’t expose everything we are thinking in order to avoid chaos and disaster in our dealings with other people. So we construct a “public face” that we present to the world. But most of us, when sexually engaged, do not wish to be seen by anyone but our partners. Full sexual expression and release leave us entirely vulnerable and without a publicly presentable “face. Sex transgresses these protective boundaries, breaks us open, and exposes the uncontrolled and unpresentable creature underneath; that is its essence.”

I kind of agree with this statement. But isn’t it an ordeal to maintain two faces at a time? A double effort!