RE-BLOG: This is an excellent blog post by Sasha Pasulka on the widespread public acceptance of Chris Brown’s return to glory, less than 3 years after being convicted of felony assault against singer, Rihanna.
SOURCE: Bipolar Bear (blog)
Yesterday I found myself having a conversation with my mother about her sexual awareness as an 18 year old bride in Pakistan. Funnily enough the conversation started when she came into my room and said she wanted to talk to me about something serious. I agreed. She came in, closed the door and whispered “If you need to know about family planning, go to the clinic in town. You’ll be able to get medicines and advice”.
Regardless of whether or not I was a virgin before I got married, I should point out that two months have passed since my husband and I tied the knot and did the deed. Isn’t this advice coming a little late?! I informed my mother that I had already taken necessary steps with regards to family planning. To which, her response was, “We weren’t so clever back in our day. We didn’t know anything. In fact, your dad’s best friend [who was married] told your father a little bit, but we went for a walk in the local neighbourhood on our wedding night and spent the entire night talking. Everyone was concerned. They were saying ‘what the hell are they doing?’ “
The conversation with my mother continued and came on to more “women’s stuff”. I discovered that my 61 year old mother who has been living in this country since 1972, didn’t know why women menstruate. I was in utter shock and amazement. She thought that it was the body’s way of rejecting “bad blood”, whatever that means. I explained to her that each month a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy and that the lining of the womb thickens. When pregnancy does not occur, the lining sheds itself in the form of menstruation. She looked surprised and slightly embarrassed.
After this, we started talking about the disastrous effects of Pakistani men and women not having access to sex education and how this manifests in unhealthy attitudes towards intimacy and sexuality. The conversation took a religious direction at which point things started to get a little heated. I started telling her about the Islamic concept of “Ijtihad” (independent reason) and how there is a tradition within Islam to discuss, critique and debate aspects of the religion without fear of reprisal.
Eventually, we ended up on the topic of the authenticity of the Abrahamic scriptures and the way in which prescriptions translate into culture such that women end up having to behave like children trapped inside adult bodies. God forbid that a woman might have sexual desires! At this point in the conversation my mum raised her voice and stated “I will not listen to anything against my religion or any other religion! I believe in the Qur’an and the holy books [even though my mother has never read the others], I believe in God and the prophet. I am good to others. I take the good things and reject the bad!”. In reality of course, this is a fudging of facts at best. My mother does have a genuine affection for other humans and is an innately caring individual regardless of an individual’s race, religion, gender etc, but she also firmly believes that a woman who is raped, can in fact bring it upon herself thanks to the clothes she chooses to wear. She also perceives women who think and question things too much as jhagraloo (“argumentative“) as opposed to curious individuals seeking knowledge. Ironic then that the first word in the holy book my mother and so many revere is “Iqra” which means “Read”.
My mother also clearly didn’t entertain the fact that perhaps my sexuality came into being much before now? Perhaps the family planning conversation could have been had when I hit puberty? Not two months after I get married? Why was something so important left to chance? Why did I learn about sex from school textbooks, TV and my English friend’s mother? Didn’t my mother’s prophet once say “La haya fi’deen”? There is no shyness in matters of religion?
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Posted in Islam, Pakistani culture, Sexuality
Tagged aunties, Islam, marriage, mothers, Muslim, Pakistani, prudish, Quran, Sex education, sexual awareness, sexuality, taboo, UK, virginity