20th October 2023, Mumbai: India, a nation steeped in conservative values and traditions, is experiencing a notable shift in its attitude toward sexual wellness, driven by the impact of Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and ALT Balaji. This change, characterized by an increasing willingness to engage in conversations about sexual health, pleasure, and overall well-being, mirrors the evolving dynamics of Indian society.
Traditionally, Indian cinema has maintained a conservative stance when it comes to portraying sexuality and sexual health. However, the rise of OTT platforms has given filmmakers and creators the freedom to push boundaries, resulting in a surge of content that explores sexual themes in a more open and unabashed manner. Noteworthy series and movies like “Lust Stories” on Netflix, “Four More Shots Please” on Amazon Prime Video, and “Gandii Baat” on ALT Balaji have become pioneers in this transformation, addressing issues of sexuality, desire, and relationships with a newfound explicitness.
Alongside this change in storytelling, there has been a rise in the acceptance of adult wellness items like intimate accessories and adult toys in mainstream culture. Once deemed taboo, these products are now openly portrayed and discussed in numerous OTT series and movies.
TV shows featuring candid discussions about intimacy, particularly from a female viewpoint, have empowered more Indians to explore adult wellness products. The stigma surrounding intimate conversations is diminishing, particularly among urban Indians, due to relatable and daring portrayals in web series. In fact, several online platforms selling wellness items, including lingerie and massage oils, have reported a 3-4 times increase in sales over the past two years.
There has been a significant rise in the demand for products that are considered high-end, discreet, and endorsed by influencers. Urban Indian women are now more willing to try out adult wellness products, marking a departure from earlier times when discussions about intimacy were considered taboo. Moreover, promotions are strategic, with products featured in impactful scenes that encourage audiences to explore similar items.
Although OTT shows do not explicitly endorse or promote brands, experts in the industry have observed a significant connection between shows that openly portray intimacy through characters and an increase in sales of adult wellness products.
According to Mr. Vishal Aggarwal, Marketing Head at Naughty Nights, “The relatability of characters and depictions that are progressive yet grounded in reality are contributing to removing inhibitions around intimate conversations. This is a positive shift towards a more open, safer,and innovation-focused industry catering to adult wellness. To bridge this knowledge gap, Naughty Nights offers live chat and phone support, ensuring that customers can access expert guidance and assistance in product selection, troubleshooting, and any other concerns they may have.” This shift towards greater openness, acceptance, and education reflects a cultural change in how Indians approach and embrace their sexual
well-being, a transformation largely influenced by the changing landscape of OTT content
Incorporating adult wellness products in Indian OTT content is a part of a larger effort to promote sexual well-being. By spotlighting these products, content creators intend to challenge societal conventions, diminish stigma, and encourage a more inclusive conversation about sexual health. This emerging openness reshapes the discourse around sexual wellness, underscoring its importance in enhancing overall well-being.
Although the cultural move towards open conversations about sexual wellness and the integration of adult wellness products is undeniably a positive progression, it brings forth significant ethical concerns. Critics contend that the explicit promotion of these products might create unrealistic expectations and contribute to objectification. It is crucial for content creators to manage this shift responsibly, ensuring that the portrayal of adult wellness products adheres to ethical standards, emphasizes consent, and avoids perpetuating harmful stereotypes.
The evolution of India’s sexual wellness landscape through OTT platforms involves a careful balancing act. While it challenges deeply rooted taboos and encourages more open discussions about sexual health, it also requires a responsible approach. Ensuring that the promotion of adult wellness products positively contributes to societal change is essential.
The transformation of India’s sexual wellness landscape through OTT platforms underscores the nation’s evolving dynamics. The acceptance of adult wellness products in mainstream media marks a crucial milestone in promoting sexual wellness and diminishing the stigma around these conversations. Yet, it is essential to navigate this change with caution and sensitivity, ensuring it serves as a catalyst for empowerment and positive societal shifts. The progress toward a more open and inclusive discussion on sexual wellness is already in motion. It is the collective responsibility of content creators, platforms, and society to further shape this transformative narrative.