I met someone recently who has a rape fantasy. I was quite taken aback, actually. She is a staunch feminist — the khadi-morcha-penis-chopping-JNU kind — and to hear her say the word “rape” in a noninflammatory setting was a new experience. She wasn’t drunk either (well, as drunk as two glasses of red gets anyone).

“Are you surprised?” she asked.

“I am, yeah. Since when?”

“Well, I was watching Irreversible recently…” She went on to tell me how the idea of a strong, dominating man roughing her up turned her on. She still despised rape — as vehemently as anybody should — but in a controlled environment, with someone she is attracted to, she would like to try out consensual non-consensual sex. “I don’t want him to listen to me, hold himself back,” she went on.

Kinky is quite commonplace these days. People have been happily experimenting with handcuffs and leather belts. Sex toy stores and websites are doing healthy business. Indians love role playing and sex dolls, surveys say. But are people trying out any of the edgy stuff? How about silk ropes and strangalation, I ask around. “I tried it once, but it did not work out for me,” a friend of a friend shared on chat one day. “I was too worried about passing out or breaking my neck. Or her neck. All the worrying was a boner kill. We ditched the rope and went back to regular sex.” Some more people I spoke to have thought about it, but have not ventured in that direction. I tried out the silk rope recently and I must admit that it was in equal parts scary and exciting. Allowing another person to have control over when you breathe and for how long is a difficult proposition, even if you trust them blindly. You can see them enjoy that control, you can see a flicker of the beast in their eyes, you can see them enjoy the power of playing God — you can see that work on them like Viagra.

I think, as a race, our reducing attention span is affecting our sex lives. Regular sex is boring. Every night, we need something new to entertain us, keep us clued into our relationships and keep us away from robotically scrolling through our newsfeeds. What happens when we run out of all the coffee, conversations and cigarettes? We read up somewhere about whips and cock rings and want to try it out. It’s fun, admittedly, and hence, we go snooping around for more props and distractions until, one day, intimacy has disappeared as one of the required ingredients for good sex.

Around me, I see rules change in relationships. Young married couples, my contemporaries, are not traditionalists. A friend has an open marriage and stories of their individual escapades turn them on, supposedly. Another friend’s husband loves watching her having sex with random strangers who are invited over (such eligible bachelors are mostly found on Tinder). An acquaintance’s brother indulges in threesomes quite often. Yet another person I met through common friends enjoys his wife “taking charge” with a strap-on dildo, a la Deadpool (incidentally, that’s where they got the idea). Sex and relationships are not what they used to be anymore, and everybody is celebrating their freedom to enjoy their bodies exactly how they would want to.

I recently met someone at a wedding who, after a couple of drinks, confessed his love for animal masks. “Masks? Like lions and horses? Theatre masks?” I asked, brimming with curiosity. He excitedly agreed. And does he wear them, or does he like the other person to put them on? “Not me. I want the person I am doing to wear them.” I was quite intrigued. “Just the mask? Or do you like stripping them out of a whole body suit?” “No, just the animal head is fine. Although, there is one more thing.” He seemed to hesitate. I encouraged him to take a gulp of some liquid courage (I need juicy material for these columns, people). He did, and seemed to loosen up. “I like it when they make animal noises. Like, the lion should growl and the dog should bark and so on, you know?” I didn’t, and stared at him wide-eyed for a while.