Sex, intimacy & pleasure
This next episode of Masala Podcast is about unlocking the door on sex, intimacy and pleasure. As women, we carry within us infinite pleasure and the capacity to experience orgasms. But our cultural baggage, with its ideas of teaching us ‘shame’ or the sense of feeling ‘dirty’ around sex has stopped us accessing our own pleasure.
On this episode, I speak with Pallavi Barnwal who works in India & is a globally renowned sex & intimacy coach. She has counselled thousands of people helping them understand, navigate, and improve both their sex lives and intimate relationships
I’m so thrilled to have Pallavi Barnwal talk about the perceptions of sex in our South Asian Culture & also how our cultural conditioning affects our sexual lives.
Pivalli’s work includes helping her clients regain confidence in their sexual selves. She also helps couples in relationships, helping them to find new joy in each other sexually – and beyond.
She has helped millions through her YouTube & other social media platforms where she talks about everything from BDSM to bisexuality from masturbation to sex toys.
Pallavi follows a psycho-spiritual-embodiment approach towards sexual and relationship wellness which starts first with healing the body, mind and soul and graduates to relational healing.
She runs a range of online programs to educate and empower people with respect to sexuality and intimate relationships.
I loved chatting with Pallavi, she is so honest and open about her background, sexual experiences & relationships, as well as the journey to finding joy through her own sexuality and her work.
SHOW NOTES, PALLAVI BARNWAL MASALA PODCAST
Speaking to Pallavi Barnwal has given me a new insight into sexual relationships and how sex is perceived in South Asian culture. She is a globally renowned certified sexuality, intimacy coach in the field of sexual wellness, and she shared some interesting facts with me in this podcast.
In our culture, so many of us see sex as taboo and something that should not be discussed outside of the bedroom. One stereotype that we all grew up with is that men are usually those who want to have sex and their wives deny them that. Pallavi told me that she has worked with many couples where the men were the one to deny sex in a relationship.
As women, we want to feel loved and cared for. We also want to experience orgasms. Many cultural beliefs have led us to believe that sex is only for procreation and not for pleasure. And women who enjoy sex are seen as “dirty”.
In South Asian culture, we also have this belief that sex in itself is somehow “dirty”. Pallavi shares a story of a man who did not want to have sex with his wife because he loved her. To him, sex was an audacious act. He did not want to grab the woman he loved, he wanted to treat her right and not be “a devil with a dick”.
It is a curious topic, sex. There are many sexless relationships or marriages, which is also seen as an issue.
Pallavi shares with me how she helps her South Asian clients regain their confidence in their sexual relationships. How they can give each other pleasure and ensure that their sex life finds a new spark. Pallavi’s work helps couples in relationships, helping them to find new joy in each other sexually – and beyond.
Pallavi Barnwal on Masala Podcast: Transcript
Pallavi Barnwal 0:00
One thing I have really worked on is my boundaries because being sexually empowered doesn’t mean that you have a score or you just hit on a list like okay, today it’s with this person. I’m not judging, but I’m saying that for me sexual empowerment has a different meaning. And I think that should be a common meaning by saying that it is not linked to a number. You being sexually empowered has nothing to do with the number of partners you have.
Sangeeta Pillai 0:40
I’m Sangeeta Pillai and this is the Masala podcast, a Spotify original. This award-winning feminist podcast for and by South Asian women is all about cultural taboos, sex, sexuality, periods, mental health, menopause, nipple hair, shame, and many more taboos. Join me around my virtual kitchen table, as I talk with some inspiring women from around the world, exploring what it means to be a South Asian feminist today. On this episode, I speak with Pallavi Barnwal, who works in India and is a globally renowned sex and intimacy coach. She has counselled 1000s of people, helping them understand, navigate, and improve both their sex lives and intimate relationships by Libby has helped millions through her YouTube and other social media platforms, where she talks about everything from BDSM to bisexuality, from masturbation to sex toys. I love chatting with Pallavi, she is so honest and open about her background, her sexual experiences, and relationships as well as the joy of finding her own sexuality and her work.
Pallavi Barnwal 2:06
I used to be a very shy girl. I used to be so intimidated by there is a boy standing next to me like you know, there has to be like, a mile distance preferably I was so scared. I had my own family trauma, which kind of led to a low self-esteem. So I went through my own, I would say bucket of life’s issues. I think the good thing was that I decided to turn my struggle into a cause or an inspiration, my personal inspiration to do something and ensure that no one else goes through what I went be sexually objectified in relationship like okay, you know, am I there just for my body or, you know, my, my identity matters, am I just a body. So I used to go through all those emotions and not know anything further. So I strongly believe, sometimes I come across because you know, different people have different thought processes. But I feel that sexuality to me is very sacred, it is more than exchange of body that is exchange of energies, there are emotions, or at the very bare minimum, you know, there is safety involved on health involved a lot of things that get involved and we don’t think of sexuality on those terms.
Sangeeta Pillai 3:16
Can we go back to something you just said about your own life kind of, was a little bit difficult growing up? Are you happy to talk about that a little bit?
Pallavi Barnwal 3:25
The impact sometimes I feel I’m very blessed to see all these, it’s literally like a movie, or maybe a you know, a novel that if I look back at my life, I made the perfect food for a novel. So mom had an affair. And she had an affair because she was not really happy in the marriage, because she was dependent on my father, she could never kind of, you know, walk out or she stayed in the marriage. But the Fed was not disclosed. Thereafter, like my father got to know about it. After 10 years. He’s into palmistry.
So he was reading my mom’s hand and she just kind of made to stop and said that, you know, I find that there is something that you’re hiding from the lines of your hands. So she was already under a lot of guilt. And she thought that, you know, it’s the time that she should tell him because, like now they’re involving, you know, all gods and divine, big into this so, and then my father left her like, not legally because she never divorced him.
But my father separated from her, and he went on to have his own affair, which was a full-blown affair of like 25 years. And as a child, I grew up seeing all this because all of this happened when I was like eight. And I think one interesting thing that’s stood out for me is because there were so many relationships involved. You know, my mom had a relationship. My father had a relationship. I saw my father’s relationship. My father, my mom’s relationship was over by the time they knew I was, it happened before I was born. But my father’s relationship started when I was like Seven years after the marriage was broken. And then I used to accompany my father to his visits to that woman, because she was also a married woman and in the society, you know, a man cannot be seen. So my father would take me along, because that makes it more acceptable, like there is a child also going.
Sangeeta Pillai 5:20
You were like the decoy.
Pallavi Barnwal 5:22
I mean, I know, I understand why I would be accompanying him always. So I think all of that, I was not able to process it, what is that, but it had a lot of impact. Because I had no baseline of what a healthy relationship looks like, it was all over like anything, which was volatile, anything which is volatile, which is volcanic, which is intense, which is chemistry, I would associate everything that as a relationship, and I ended up creating same relationships in my life to that energy is basically the energy you that inner state of your body. So now I realized why I would attract all those men, or why I would get attracted to all those men, but it was also my inner state of turbulence, which was not really, you know, human beings had this unique ability to adapt. Like we can adapt to so many things, and we can also adapt to trauma, we can adapt to toxicity. So that’s how I think the downward spiral of relationship failures after relationship failures, like so many relationship failures, and thankfully, I kind of am because I know so many people who are still into the throat like they still struggle, they have no way out. I’m very glad that even after all this has happened, I came out.
Sangeeta Pillai 6:40
What are the some of these relationships you chose, then? Do you think now looking back?
Pallavi Barnwal 6:45
I had low self-esteem, and I felt that relationships will give me that value? Yeah, I feel lacking in myself, like I that value. Being in a relationship gives me that value gives me that completeness. So for that, like it would happen. Like I was ready to fall in love with the first man who’s going to give me any attention. Yeah, that’s how desperate I was, even someone meeting me. So one thing in my mind was that marriage is a way where I can escape this dysfunctional home. Like I had this you know, girls get married, and they get go to a different wholesome one was it was my escape aid. I knew very clearly that the only way I can escape this home is I get married to some other guy, move into his home. So that was number one.
And secondly, I long for that family. So I was very desperate. And I remember you know, I would give those kinds of indirect cues to men also to show my subtle interest and knowing that desperate desperation and you know, I went to any extent so I never thought in my mind, it was like I would never attract a guy. Yeah. Okay.
So with that and then someone would get attracted to me and I thought okay, he’s the first one he’s the last one so I’ll just go and grab that man like literally profess my love and most of these men were abusive men in terms of there was a different types of abuse like with one it was financial abuse with one it was like it was just about sex the relationship was he was only wanting sex from me there was nothing other you know, in the relationship he would not disclose about our relationship to his friends or he would keep it very discreet and was only bought sex.
And I was very discontent with everything while I was into it, but the only what was what happened was because I had so less low self-worth, that I couldn’t find it muster the courage to walk out of it and got married in a patriarchal setup. Like again, relationship did not work. So I thought, okay, let’s just get it legally signed, so that the boy doesn’t leave because all these men left me so I thought okay, now the only way is to just go and straight away get married, because then there will be a legal thing attached then he will not be able to walk away like I was so scared of abandonment. So I went ahead married the first guy who liked me, like first guy who liked me I just got married I thought, okay, profession, okay. And then you’re educated.
Nothing is like no discussion of compatibility. I just made up my mind that okay. It the boys earning well, but then after the marriage, I found that the family was very patriarchal. I stayed in the marriage for five, six years, because again, I did not have courage. I thought, Okay, I need this marriage for survival. I can’t survive. It was only after he left country for two years on a different assignment out of the country that for those two years, I was very obese, like I was at Katie’s now I’m 66 I just took on food to kind of be with that, you know, emotional trauma. So emotional comfort. The moment he left like within 15 days, I lost 10 kgs without doing anything.
Wow. Yes, I tell this story because and even I’m coming up with a workshop where I say that a lot of body weight issues are because of mental health. We don’t talk about this; we talk about body positivity. But I’m saying that if you are under stress and you’re gaining fat, you need to get let go of that fat. And that is what happened. Like, I wouldn’t now understand that the moment my husband left, I was so relieved, I just lost 10 kgs. Like, and that was my sign. So, but then again, I went into other relationships, which was like, you know, abusive, like financially, it’s actually this, this this same, same thing. It’s like, you know, repeat, repeat, repeat. I, my last abandonment was like, the man left me. That was when I came, like literally came to my knees like literally, I felt that one of my friends that had Pallavi, you’re growing old. I don’t know if it is true, but it just hit me. So he said, Paula, we are growing old right now you are in your 30s you are going to be in your 40s in two or three years. But in your 40s you would not be able to deal with this up and down. Yeah, he said that you better be vigilant and do something about it. Because you know, right now you still have the capacity, and I could feel that I’m going somewhere. I’m losing my myself. I’m losing my peace, everything like I have a child. So one of the concerns was me. He can’t see his mom crying and staying hungry all the time, which I did. So then I went I went to a therapist, I always believed in therapists, but none of them were so like, quackery is so prevalent in India, glad I found a good therapist, like he’s a good therapist.
Sangeeta Pillai 11:34
And that’s where your journey to becoming who you are today started, I think wasn’t it?
How many of us seek to find ourselves in our romantic relationships, to find a partner who will mend our broken bits. So many of us feel that when we find that perfect someone, we will then be whole again. And sometimes, even when those relationships don’t work, we still stay. Because we fear not finding another person who will love us. Because we wonder who we would be without our partner. Because we’re afraid of being alone. We tell ourselves, maybe it’s easier to just stay. What do we do, then? I don’t have the answers. But I guess a good start is reminding ourselves that we are complete, that we will hold right from the moment we were born. And that only when we have the courage to destroy the good enough? Do we get to what’s truly good for us to become the magical, glorious, powerful people we were meant to be? So what led you to become a sex educator? And why do you think that’s important in the world?
Pallavi Barnwal 13:14
Because, you know, for me, my relationships, my parents, and my relationships were just limited to sex. With my husband, it was again, a sexless marriage. So there was no sex, and thereafter very strong. So I could see the multiple aspects of sex one. There was sexual objectification. Two, there was a sexual withholding because, you know, lack of emotions or lack of affection, three, there was like a peak of sexuality where I also like, you know, really became very sexual, I went ahead and had an extramarital affair.
Technically, I was out of that marriage, where I knew that I am going to walk out of the marriage, but still, I had relationship while I was married, legally married, like, you know, so you are mentally separated, you’re physically separate, but legally, you’re married, and you have an affair. So you would still call that as an extramarital affair. And I had that, and it was very, very sexually intense. I really liked that. So when we say that, okay, women in their mid-30s or 30s, like we tend to associate sex with this, you know, 20 the honeymoon period, I think, for me, my sexual experience really improved as I grew, and I felt like wow, that’s such a discovery.
So, you know, all three aspects, I think sex was through and through whether the absence of it whether we, you know, objectification of it or whether the blossoming of it, I was really fascinated with this journey plus my parents’ relationship, which was, you know, I could see that intensity, so I knew the intensity that we hold, but how do we channelize it how do we productively bring it out? Rather than you know, it’s kind of this taboo creating a taboo, like that taboo can lead to so many issues like these, you know, discreet affairs where you don’t know there is no guideline? We don’t have any guidelines of what is healthy what is unhealthy around sex.
Sangeeta Pillai 15:02
And I think taboos is an interesting word where he just said that with women, particularly in our culture like Asian women, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, it’s such a taboo for us to own our own sexuality. You know, even now, even 2020, whether you live in India, whether you live in the UK, for a woman, like you arrived to come up and talk about orgasms or pleasure or our bodies, it’s still so taboo. And I think person and I’m sure you’re using that, that sex is really, really important for us for our kind of health and our well-being. What sort of things do your clients bring to you when they come to you, South Asian women?
Pallavi Barnwal 15:41
Many issues. And one thing I’ve seen increasingly because traditionally sexes are thought of as a man’s domain, like, you know, a man is sexual, and a woman is not sexual. But I’ve seen the opposite, opposite in marriages where women crave for sex, and in the marriages and men are people who are not interested in sex. I mean, yesterday itself, I had a session where they have a love marriage of like, 15 plus years, and they have everything going good for them. Except for you know, that man is not interested in sex at all, like three months, once in three months, and then she’s not in the mood because she thinks that she doesn’t want this. She wants like, either you do it regularly or you don’t.
Sangeeta Pillai 16:21
Yeah, yeah, completely.
Pallavi Barnwal 16:23
The man said that Pallavi, I will be very honest with you, I will tell you that I like her so much because she’s my high school sweetheart. So we have literally grown together. And I love her so much. I admire her so much that I cannot imagine myself to be a devil with the dick. Yeah that is such a conflicted association of sexuality and sexuality is something that you can’t do this to her because that’s how we are brought up.
Sangeeta Pillai 16:53
I completely get that. So she is so pure. It is the object of his affection. And she’s on a pedestal and he can’t do that. That’s what I’m getting. Is that what he meant?
Pallavi Barnwal 17:05
I mean, he couldn’t see himself as a person who is, because lovemaking typically, there’s a lot of grabbing. He didn’t want to do all of that.
Sangeeta Pillai 17:15
Something so dirty with someone he loved. Yes. And I think that right there, I think epitomizes how in our culture, we view sex. It’s like this dirty act. It’s like this aggressive thing. It’s something you do. And it’s an awful thing. And we don’t really think about it, we’re not taught really, in our growing up years to think about sex is something that is part of a healthy marriage, that sex is something that’s part of our health, really, for women, you know, like sexual health. It’s important, and it affects so many parts of your life. And do you find that this is normal? That? I mean, I say normal, but do you find that a lot more women are wanting sex, whereas the male partners don’t? Do you find that in your work?
Pallavi Barnwal 18:00
Yes, a lot. A lot. I’ve been getting very strong men also about the wife not interested. But I think that queries from women, either they outnumber men, or at least they would be equal. Definitely no less than.
Sangeeta Pillai 18:18
We’ve been taught that females sexual desire is elusive. That men always want sex and that women rarely do. This is entirely different from what women say to me, in my workshops. The women I know, enjoy sex. They seek exciting sexual adventures they desire and one to be desired. The other myth were sold is that as women grow older, were less interested in sex. Were taught that all older women want is garden centres and pots of tea. Nothing wrong with either, but you know what I mean? And if you’re an older South Asian woman, you’re just supposed to mind the grandkids knit endless socks and watch those dreadful TV soaps. When will we start to understand that women, both young and old, are interested in their bodies in their sex lives, and their glorious orgasms? What are the issues do people bring to you as a sex coach? What are the kinds of things you come across?
Pallavi Barnwal 19:38
The erectile dysfunction, erectile difficulties of men, which could be age related which could be I mean, they it is so common, you know, erectile issues like premature ejaculation, a kind of dysfunction where you are not able to have an erection or direction for an intercourse and the way we have understood sexuality, it is something the unmissable. You can’t have sex without intercourse. I’ve been looking at work of a lot of therapists, sex therapists where they say that intercourse is not really the mandatary or something indispensable like lesbians have sex, so I totally agree but when I shoot out this idea.
There’s this idea in the industry, which is striving to say okay, you have to get an erection at any cost. I have had a woman – like they are a newly married couple. And I can really predict what is going to happen in their life five years down the line. So they are a newly married couple and she said – her husband sitting beside her- she said, for me to get an orgasm I need a really good hard erection. I felt like oh my god poor guy because you know, he’s under so much of pressure. And I think that’s where most men are reading because they feel they have to get this good hard erection. It is something which is not really under their control. And the more they think about it, the more it can interface with you know, the erection. Sexploration is a relatively very small chunk of Indian audience as of now, because, again, most people don’t, it is taking them time to warm up to therapy. Okay, like, we can see a sex coach, or we can take counselling coaching, counselling therapy are something which is very new in our culture. So unless something very life-altering happens, they don’t come.
Sexploration is something I do get queries that people have a good sex life. We are not at that stage where you’re saying okay, how we can enhance or elevate our experience by taking expert help, do I get credit like this? I have gotten queries that people are couples are having good sex life, but they say okay, what more we can do. Majority of these are problem-oriented statements were like, you know, sexless marriages either by choice like, you know, one person not interested or either by physicality where there could be vaginal smears like the woman’s vagina is too tight, there is no intercourse that can happen. You know, the very weird thing. What I found is most of these unconsummated marriages, when the families pressurizing them to have kids, they have a two-year sexless marriage. Yeah, unconsummated marriage, they could not have sex. And now the family says I think that the hypocrisy of Indian society that we are covertly talking about, okay, when are you guys having sex?
Sangeeta Pillai 22:40
Not even concerned about whether they’re having sex or not. It’s just where are the babies? You know, like, that’s the sort of there are no babies, then you’re like, okay, then why are you not having sex rather than anybody being interested? Whether?
Pallavi Barnwal 22:53
Like they say, okay, you know, now we have to tell them that we are not even having sex.
Sangeeta Pillai 22:59
It has to come to that. Do you think in Indian society, attitudes towards sex have changed at all in the last kind of 10 years maybe? Do you see change?
Pallavi Barnwal 23:08
Not really at a broader scale because if you talk about our parents, no, there is no change. So kids don’t kind of go and say okay, our parents, they can talk about sex with them. That is not happening. But at the level of millennials and Gen Z, I do see a change happening more in Gen Z. And then now there is the alpha generation, I guess, the 2000 born plus. So I see them very much interested in content. Like I know, I have a lot of young audience, there are youngsters, but none of them can speak about it. I remember on LinkedIn, I also post a lot on LinkedIn, which is this professional. A lot of people said although my posts are very scientifically driven. They say they can’t like our post, because LinkedIn, you will get to see. So your boss will get to see which posts you have, liked, they don’t want anyone to know that.
Sangeeta Pillai 24:06
So basically, what you’re saying is that while there is a change in their own internal mindset, it still doesn’t feel acceptable for them to be seen talking about or consuming that content. And I feel like, but you know, from my point of view, I’ve left in there now what 16 years like, none of the people that I knew were doing the content say you’re doing or any of the sex educators like Liza Mangal da so SEMA or any of these people. That’s new. I think anybody publicly going onto public platform like YouTube or Instagram and talking about sex like you are, that’s unusual. So I suppose there is a change and I suppose there is a slower change. And I’m guessing that change is different in cities and in that smaller towns, I suppose less and less so. Do you find that at all?
Pallavi Barnwal 24:50
Yeah, I mean, metros are no different than smaller towns when it comes to public acceptance of sex. It’s the same. It can be happening in close circles like you may have a close intimate gathering of friends in a dining room and you may talk about it on a couch, but not on internet or not anywhere where you are to be seen,
Sangeeta Pillai 25:09
You know, talking about our culture, and the culture we come from you talk a lot about kind of the mythology, in our culture, and all myths that are connected to sex. Can you talk a little bit about that, I know that it’s something you really like to talk about?
Pallavi Barnwal 25:28
Yeah. So I mean, we are, you know, a religious country. I would say broadly speaking, by and large, we are a religious country. And I think that’s where you actually talk about sexuality because religion has a has really relationship with sexuality. You know, there is a festival which is Durga Puja, it’s a Hindu festival, where they made these idols of, you know, mud, these items are kept out, like while they’re being sculpted by the sculptures and these ideas don’t have vaginas. Any idol of a God, you look at them, when you see them in temples, like you know, a lot of times you will see the priest and like kind of dressing them in their usual like, you know, cleaning process, you will see the none of the gods have their genitals. And that was a very wonderful finding. I kind of found that okay, yeah, you make them as a human, but you don’t get that, what makes him a male, what makes him a female, because that’s where it is.
Sangeeta Pillai 26:29
It’s a binary. Got it. And, again, you know, coming back to culture, Kamasutra, you know, there are so many texts like this, right? And again, this perception that we have that somehow sex is not part of our culture. Like, I feel like that’s a misconception because sex is very much part of our culture. It has been for millennia, right? It’s just that we’ve lost it. We’ve lost that connection to it.
Pallavi Barnwal 26:54
You see, so many gods have multiple wives like even Shiva had more than one wife. I should tell them that you are worshiping someone who is an unmarried couple and then here you are creating so many issues for couples to live in together. And you are actually worshipping a god with not his wife. His wife was Rukmini. So even though Krishna had a legal right, so that’s such an irony like, you know, when you question and people have no answers, because it’s like more like a blind faith.
Sangeeta Pillai 27:37
Many South Asian women will remember their parents turning off the TV every time there was a sex scene. That’s how taboo sex was in our lives. We were taught that our culture expected us as women to be uninterested in sex, that sex in fact, was for procreation only. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We are the culture that created the Kama Sutra, a book from the fourth century BC, talking about female pleasure, among many other things. We are the culture that gave the world the tantra tradition, where sex can weave the physical with the spiritual. Our ancient mythology is full of stories of love and sex, or Gods changing form, from male to female, without it being a big deal. We’ve even got a goddess called Ruthie, whose very name translates into sexual pleasure and desire. So the next time someone tells you that sex isn’t part of South Asian culture, you will know just what to say. You know, with the couples who come to you or people who come to you, have there been any stories that have stood out for you, like that’s really helped you or inspired you? You know, it’s like your work, how that’s changed people.
Pallavi Barnwal 29:06
Yeah, I mean, I also happen to get a testimonial from this client of mine. And she said, she grew up with very iconoclastic values on sexuality, like, okay, it’s dirty, it’s shameful. Parents were very discreet about their own life. She has no idea of her parents set like most kids, most clients, I asked him that, okay, what is about today like just looking at me as like, I’m talking turkey. Like, you know, I say, Yeah, you are living in the same house. I mean, if your parents have an intimate relationship, you have no idea to see that so disconnect like two idols thing in the home and we have no idea about okay, they could have something like that.
She also grew up I grew up with similar values of, you know, shameful sexuality and her husband. They had a sexless marriage on and off like two years of sexless marriage and one, you know, offense didn’t where she would just do it more like up. So that is also the scene the culture is like the duty sex. Yes. And her husband did not like it. In fact, one of my clients even said that, you know, I It feels like I’m raping my wife. Because she just lies there still.
So even though the consent is there because she thinks he doesn’t like it, he wants her to be involved. So she came to me, and we talked about movies, there are certain movies, they back in 80s, like ice, I talked about this movie called Parama by Aparna same, she’s a Bengali filmmaker, very bold. And, you know, I’m so glad. So there is one movie of Aparna saying, I don’t remember the name of the movie, but I will tell you the scene. So the scene is she is having sex with her lover Aparna same. So she’s the actress also. And she’s the director. Also, she’s having sex with her lover, the lover is outside marriage, and the child is basically playing, they’re out in the garden. And she’s on the top floor. So the child is like, you know, wanting a sheet the child is calling her like mama, you know, the child is 78-year-old. And she’s having that orgasm. She’s like, she’s actually seeing here and they’re like, what should I do, but she continues to kind of enjoy that.
Sangeeta Pillai 31:14
Wonderful, that’s so good.
Pallavi Barnwal 31:16
And they have shown this in like, late 80s, early 90s. That’s a movie. Actually it’s a scene that they are showing not nudity, but the partner is casting like he’s like moving. She and she’s also one part of her is like listening to the child, you know, call that okay? He’s calling his mom is a very small child. And then he or she is enjoying and she just, she decides to be here.
Sangeeta Pillai 31:42
Yeah. Now that’s wonderful, isn’t it? And did that help the person who you were working with?
Pallavi Barnwal 31:48
So I shared some of these movies because they have seen the only imagery of sex around fun. They don’t know that okay, human emotions.
Sangeeta Pillai 32:00
Tell me, Pallavi, how has this worked? So you obviously work with a lot of couples and a lot of people, and you’ve helped, I’m sure a lot of people in navigating their sexuality and sex life. How has this work changed you?
Pallavi Barnwal 32:12
Okay, that’s a good question. So I think I also believe that the way we have been brought up what I’ve been seeing, in the best of the best cases, people have so much of baggage about, you know, what they have grown up in their childhood, because families are not really functional in the ideal sense, you know, you I’ve seen people who have grown pampered. And that also serves as a blockage because you know, they are not able to accommodate, because they have been pampered so much spoiled so much.
So for me personally, I’m still learning the ropes, like one thing I have really worked on is my boundaries. Because to understand that sexuality doesn’t mean that it doesn’t mean recklessly. being sexually empowered doesn’t mean that you have a score, or you just hit on a list like, Okay, today, it’s with this person. I’m not judging, but I’m saying that, for me, sexual empowerment has a different meaning. And I think that should be a common meaning by saying that it is not linked to a number of you, being sexually empowered has nothing to do with the number of partners you have. Because there was a time when I actually thought it’s that, like, if I have the power, I can have sex with anyone anytime, you know, now I realized that it’s also about value sexuality has so much into it. Pleasure values, consent, health, you know, so I think on that level, I have really evolved intellectual like, Can sexuality be intellectualized it has always been physicalized? Like, you know, so I think that intellectualization of sexuality is very, very, I have really found myself so sexual, even when I’m sitting in the middle of a concert, just enjoying that music, and it turned me on, and there’s this guy sitting next to me, and that, you know, chemistry, that tension, I would just enjoy. And I would hold on to that, like that holding on is so powerful, rather than just sometimes letting it go into it. So we don’t understand those layers of sexuality, like, it is not just you do it. It’s not a set of things. It’s a place to be.
Sangeeta Pillai 34:11
Absolutely. And that’s so beautifully said, I think, because I think what I find, and I think you touched upon this at the beginning of our conversation, that sex isn’t something you just do in the body. It’s beyond that, isn’t it? It’s kind of to do with our spirit. It’s to do with our soul. It’s to do with I don’t know, you know, a lot more than just a physical thing, I think, what’s next for you, Pallavi?
Pallavi Barnwal 34:37
So I’m finishing touches on my toxic relationship, how to overcome and recover from a toxic relationship. And I have got a very good reception. Like everyone is saying, like, Oh, this is so common, oh, I would be interested like this something which is so relatable. So I’m working on this online course. And I’ve also launched an offline Workshop on art of intimacy in Delhi where you know we are calling a group of people and we will be talking experiencing intimacy on different levels like sensuality, there is no sexuality, sensuality, spirituality, emotionality. So on all those levels, we are trying to create experience around intimacy. So just to kind of normalize these topics in a very dignified and graceful way, that dignity grace and refinement is so needed for this subject.
Sangeeta Pillai 35:30
Sounds wonderful, and I can’t wait to see and hear about all the amazing work I’m sure you’re going to do. It’s been such a pleasure speaking to you Valerie, thank you for being on masala podcast.
Thank you for listening to the Masala Podcast, a Spotify original. Masala Podcast is part of my platform, Soul Sutras. What’s that all about? Soul Sutras is a network for South Asian women. A safe space to tell our story, to hear inspiring South Asian women challenging patriarchy, a space to be exactly the people we want to be and still feel like we belong in our culture, and our community. And ultimately, a space where we feel less alone. I’d love to hear from you. So do get in touch via email at soulsutras.co.uk or go to my website, soulsutras.co.uk. I’m also on Twitter, and Instagram. Just look for Soul Sutras. Masala podcast was created and presented by me Sangeeta Pillai produced, by Anushka Tate, opening music by Sonny Robertson.
PALLAVI BARNWAL ON MASALA PODCAST