‘A Hard Thing For Me To Navigate’: Sandy Jawanda Explains Why She’s Openly Talking About Sex On MAFS
While the name of the show is called Married At First Sight, tying the knot is only the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster on the reality TV show. Having to go on their honeymoon the day after the wedding, and then live together for two months, couples are immediately thrown into the deep end facing decisions about sex and intimacy right away.
MAFS bride Sandy Jawanda has opened up about what it was like navigating new territory in the bedroom with her TV husband, Dan Hunjas, explaining that she tried to balance her desires, what the relationship needed, and cultural expectations as a South Asian woman.
"I was very torn between the part of me where I want to be respectful to my parents and the community, and also to myself," the daughter of Punjabi Indian immigrants tells Refinery29 Australia.
Cameras took viewers inside Jawanda and Hunjas' bedroom the morning after their wedding, where the couple confirmed they didn't have sex after their nuptials.
"We just got into pyjamas, and it stayed there," Jawanda told producers. "The pillow went in the middle," she continued, adding that Hunjas "didn't push anything".
Jawanda explains that she was nervous about even talking about sex on-screen. She wanted to respect her parents (who were initially against her participation on the show) plus she knew about the stigma around talking about sex among South Asian communities. However, she hints that we'll see her speaking about intimacy later in the season, as she decides that it's important to be open about these issues to quash the taboos and help normalise sex to empower other brown women.
"I can be quite private about things like that. But at the same time, I think that's where things also need to change," she says. "Because maybe when growing up, if we had open conversations at home about things like sex, protection and when we're ready [to have sex], my relationship to sex may have been very different.
"If that means me taking that uncomfortable step of having to have those conversations on TV so that maybe someone watching will learn something, well that's the burden you've got to bear."
Jawanda highlights that while many people in the South Asian diaspora can be quite conservative when speaking about sex, we only need to remember that the Kama Sutra originates from ancient Indian Sanskrit, and "even in India, there's over a billion people there having sex". She says in having these conversations, "they don't need to be crude", but rather respectful and considerate of women.
"It's an important part of life, and especially in our culture, as women, sex is just as important to us as it is to any male," she says.
In some cultures, a woman is expected to remain a virgin until marriage. According to the dental hygienist, this in itself is worth talking about more.
"It's [virginity] a big thing in our culture and for me, I was trying to save myself for marriage," the reality star reveals. "So, I think for me it was important to talk about [on TV], but at the same time be respectful about the fact that my parents and family might be watching.
"So, it was a really hard thing for me to navigate."
Jawanda and Hunjas are one of 10 couples on MAFS this year who met for the first time at the altar on their wedding day, after being matched by relationship experts John Aiken and Mel Schilling, and clinical sexologist Alessandra Rampolla.
With the first group dinner party set to kick off tonight, we can only expect more conversations about intimacy — amongst many other things — between the cast members this season.