Since the debate refuses to abate, here are my thoughts. Put down for posterity so I have ready reference material when my daughter and I need to have this conversation!
In the beginning
God - whichever one you believe in - created a virus in the image of man. And woman. Now the trick to spreading the virus quickly and effectively was to have it replicate on its own.
So He invented sex. Yes, I will refer to God as 'He' because I think our Creator must have been a guy. Had it been a woman, certainly She would've given us periods annually - not every month!
But you see, God's primary motive in adding the sex angle was not pleasure but reproduction. The fact that it was pleasurable, of course, offered the incentive to undertake the activity.
As an added safety feature, to ensure perpetuation of his invention, God gave man a reproductive organ with a mind of its own. One that did not always and necessarily obey the commands from the High Command.
This hardwiring has complicated life for Modern Day Man. Say you meet a nice girl, and there is a mutual attraction. The High Command says, Wait! Take it easy. Get to know her. Be a gentleman.
But whether he likes it or not, the 'reproduce' circuit is also switched on and it sends really powerful signals...
Doesn't this also happen to women? Well, some believe it did in the Caveman era, but centuries of social conditioning, Mills & Boon novels and mushy films have had their evil effect. Although it looks like God wired us differently to begin with.
First of all, since women were the ones stuck with the unwanted side-effect ("badhaai ho, aap maa banne waali hain") they were bound to be much more cautious and see a big red "Stop" sign.
Advances in birth control have partially taken care of that factor, but it goes deeper.
Why Viagra doesn't work
The latest on the subject is that after eight years of tests involving 3,000 women, Pfizer, the company behind Viagra, has abandoned efforts to prove that the drug works for females too.
"It is the confirmation that men have long dreaded. Scientists have concluded that women achieve most sexual satisfaction through the stimulation of their brain and not any other organ...."
An excerpt of the report:
Exhaustive research has concluded that men and women have a fundamentally different relationship between arousal and desire. A women's arousal is triggered by a network of emotional, intellectual and relationship-based factors rather than the simple physical response required by a man.
While a man's arousal almost always led to a desire for sex, there was no such obvious corresponding factor with women.... Men consistently get erections in the presence of naked women and want to have sex. With women, things depend on a myriad of factors."
In early trials where women were dosed with Viagra while watching erotic videos, the drug appeared to work. But further studies found that even though Viagra induced a greater pelvic blood flow, the women did not feel substantially more aroused. Therefore, Pfizer is now concentrating on finding drugs that affect a woman's brain chemistry.
The fact that the earth only moves for women if they think it does comes as no surprise to many leading female sexologists.
It has long been held in these circles that a women has an emotional libido . The only surprise has been that it has taken many hours of research and thousands of pounds to conclude something that is blindingly obvious...
That's why the whole porn industry is geared towards men and the romance industry towards women! As the old saying goes: girls use sex to get love, and guys use love to get sex.
'The One Thing'
So getting back to my original comment, the point is that a girl needs affection, understanding and emotion - after which sex may follow.
However, many girls have a physical relationship hoping to get their core needs fulfilled later. Only to find that doesn't always happen. And when it doesn't, it's extremely hurtful and demeaning.
Because the guy may actually just be scratching his reproductive itch, and have no emotions for her to begin with.
Now you may argue that sex will lead to an emotional bonding. Possible, but dicey. Guys do have a concept of women who they will sleep around or 'have fun' with, and women who 'mean more'. Women for whom they feel something in their brains and not just in their briefs.
Even in more 'liberated' countries, the casual and meaningless sexual encounter may be common but not necessarily fulfilling for the woman. A recent report from the UK reveals that despite the fact that both men and women experience their first intercourse at age 16, there remain gender differences in the experience of the event.
Women are twice as likely as men to regret their first experience of intercourse and three times as likely to report being the less willing partner.
Something to keep in mind before you make your decision...
That brings me back to my original bit of advice for Nivedita: Make sure your boyfriend respects you and loves you for who you are, not just how you look.
And if I ever have a son I will tell him the same, although in a slightly different way: Make sure your girlfriend is someone you would feel proud enough to bring home and introduce to me.
Someone who makes you feel good - and feels good.