Published: 22nd June 2020
Asexual and proud: Meet author and asexual DU student activist Meghna Mehra
What does it mean to be asexual? Meghna Mehra, a Delhi University student explains it to us. She also talks about the bizarre things she's heard about it
You must be Lord Hanuman's rebirth. He was a celibate too, a friend once told Meghna Mehra. She struggles to control her laughter when she recalled this instance. Even though she decided to laugh it off, she uses the example to paint a picture of how people confuse asexuality with celibacy. "The latter is a choice, while the former isn't. It is a sexual orientation," she says.
Meghna is a 23-year-old MA Political Science student at the University of Delhi. She is also the first openly asexual student leader in the country. Clearing the air on what asexuality is, she says, "Asexual people are those who do not feel any sexual attraction to any gender or sex. Even among them, there are gray asexuals (those who experience sexual desires rarely) and demisexuals (those who only experience sexual attraction after making a strong emotional connection with a specific person). Anyone with any gender identity can be an asexual, contrary to the popular perception that only heteroromantic asexuals exist, Asexuality itself is a wide spectrum that consists of homoromantic, panromantic, biromantic and many others. Trans people could be asexual too."
Asexuality, in an artist's imagination (Pic: Rehna Abdul Kareem/ Paper Planes)
For the longest time, Meghna did not realise what her sexual orientation was. She remembers dating people and not being attracted to them sexually. "I was romantically attracted, I found people aesthetically pleasing, but I just wasn't interested in having sex with them," she says. Initially, she did dismiss it, thinking of herself as a late bloomer. Years passed and it was only in the second year of college did she hear the term, Asexual. "That's when I realised that the A in LGBTQIA+ stands for asexual, aromantic and agender and not 'ally'. I was curious and started reading more about it," she says.
That was when, to her relief, she found out that there are more people like her. "It took me eight years of struggle and abuse to come in terms with what I am. I was abused by my partners. Patriarchy in a relationship dictates that women have intercourse with their partners. The notion of masculinity affects everyone negatively," she says.
Now after coming out as an asexual person, Meghna had the most bizarre conversations with people. Some were funny, some surprising and some offensive. "People often thought that I'm a lesbian, but I'm not. Others thought that I have genophobia (The fear of having sex). I'm not scared of sex. A friend once asked if I'm angry all the time because of my orientation," she says. Another one wondered that Meghna could be so productive since she doesn't waste any time having sex or masturbating. "But I do procrastinate. Duh!" Meghna laughs.
Of all the comments and solutions, this one takes the cake! When she told a cousin that she does not have any sexual desires, he asked Meghna to get married and that everything will be alright after that. "Looks like that's a solution for all problems," she says, sarcastically. "By the way, asexuals are not anti-marriage," she laughs, clarifying.
Coincidentally, Meghna's first book is titled Marriage of convenience. Without revealing a lot of spoilers, she gives us a premise about it. " My book is about this popular notion in our society about how homosexual men must marry heterosexual women to stay in the closet. Sometimes you see people in homosexual groups and then later see their pictures with their wives. This book is focussing on a homosexual man, who consensually married a heterosexual woman," she says. "Our society is very patriarchal. Maybe its the impact of patriarchy, that men thin that they can mistreat women, invade their space and spoil their lives. A lot of homosexual individuals are also forced to marry heterosexual people forcefully too. They are even subject to practices like conversation therapy," she says. Meghna is now almost done authoring her second book titled, 'The ghost from a revolutionary past', which talks about a ghost who visits a girl and leads her to Marxism.
Meghna's first book 'Marriage of convenience'
While we wondered if we have ever come across books or other works of fiction about asexual people, Meghna asked us to read her first book. "A character here is asexual. I could not find a lot of asexual characters in fiction, so I thought of creating one myself," she says. Probably that could be why a major lot is still confused about the concept of asexuality. "The creators of the Archie comics later revealed that Jughead was asexual. Nickelodeon recently said that Spongebob was asexual. But they never focussed on their asexuality," she says.
As we had mentioned earlier, Meghna, apart from being an author, is an activist too. Formerly associated with the student political association AISA, a year and a half ago, she founded the All India Queer Organisation, which fights for the rights of queer people. "AIQA has around 200 members now. We're active in Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata, Bihar, Jharkhand, Goa, Punjab and Telangana. We have taken up various initiatives to help the community. We launched a queer manifesto during the election of 2019, focussing on queer rights. We are currently running a fundraiser to help queer people who lost their jobs during the lockdown," she says.
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