We've all heard of Kama Sutra and know it's a really old (and very sex-heavy) book, but that's about as far as our knowledge goes, right? Lovepleasure sex expert Louise is here to answer all our burning questions like, "What the hell even is it?" and, "Are the positions actually doable for someone who is not an acrobat?"
WHAT IS KAMA SUTRA?
Written in old Indian Hindu, the Kama Sutra actually dates all the way back to 400 BC (retro or what?) Most of us consider it to be an encyclopedia of awesome sex positions. Actually though, only a teeny weeny amount of the OG Kama Sutra was about positions. The other 80% focuses on love-related philosophy and how to sustain desire.
When Indian philosopher Vatsyayana was writing the text that would be known as the Kama Sutra a few thousand years ago, there's no way he could have anticipated the impact his work would have on the world. Nowadays, the words “Kama Sutra” are a synonym for sex. A number of outlets have used “Kama Sutra” to signify “crazy ways to do it,” from the (very earnest) Cosmo Kama Sutra to the (highly unauthorized) parody Star Wars Kama Sutra; go to kamasutra.com and you’ll find a company specializing in “luxury romance and intimacy products,” like edible body paints and dusts. If it seems strange that a 2,000-year-old text continues to carry such an impact on our erotic imaginations, it gets even stranger when you realize that most of the Kama Sutra isn’t actually about sex. Unlike the many hot-and-heavy sex manuals that bear its name, the original Kama Sutra is a philosophical text offering musings on how to have a rewarding life and fruitful relationships; to the extent that it’s a sex manual, it’s mostly because it doesn’t shy away from the notion that sex (and interesting sex positions) is a healthy and normal part of life. (Of course, given that this is a 2,000-year-old text, it’s very heteronormative — while queer sex and non-normative gender identities do make appearances in the text, the general assumption is that the reader’s primary sexual relationship will be a heterosexual one.) But somewhere down the line (and probably due to more than a little orientalism), the non-sex parts of the Kama Sutra got forgotten, and the sex parts got expanded upon — and, in some cases, totally reinvented.