Monday, September 20, 2010
The Politics of Pleasure
We’re each given a role to play by society. Divided into neat little categories…
Some of us are meant to serve tea, whilst others get it served to them...
Girls are supposed to like pink and boys are supposed to like blue. Gender roles obviously get far more complicated than a pair of lame pastel colours – but it all starts there… the moment you wrap a new born in pink or blue you begin to define the rest of that baby's life.
Being male or female…
It all comes with guidelines, made up for the most part, by society.. It varies slightly in different places…but the basic concept is universal. Being male puts you at a higher rank than being female. Many may disagree but let's face it…look around… wherever on earth you may be. It’s a man’s world.
(clearly this is how all women react to detergent...its just the most exciting thing!) :/
It has become a lot better for women, I'm not denying that…but we’re no where near equality. We’re getting 'closer' to it in arenas like the workplace…
but when it comes to the bedroom…we’re still really far behind. :/
Men can brag about their sexual conquests…and somehow that makes them more ‘macho’ but if a woman talks about her lovers… especially if there’s more than one. That makes her a ‘slut’.
I’ve always found that really odd…such blatant double standards, and based on what? A difference in genitalia?
Sexual 'confinement' (for the lack of a better word) for girls starts waaay back when. They're given dolls to play with… and taught to nurture…whereas a boy is given cars…guns…he’s taught to be tough…if he cries…he’s told that boys don’t – and so he begins to hide his feelings. It’s not really fair on him either…I’m sure its not easy being tough all the time…putting up a front for the world…I can't put it better than Robert Smith *swoon*....
And, when those kids grow up…boys tend to have more freedom…especially in Pakistan - and not without reason I suppose, it’s far more dangerous for a girl to be out late than it is for a guy, but this ability to stay out later and have more freedom only strengthens the differences.
When the boy and girl finally meet in the bedroom…they’re set in their ways - and those differences dictate how they'll behave.
He knows what he wants… it’s all about him…and her? She’s supposed to be quiet and shy…if she’s feeling 'frisky'…it’s not ladylike to show it. She’s there to please…and he’s there to be pleased. When he’s done…it’s over. He’ll roll over and go to bed.
Don't roll your eyes gentlemen. The scenario I described is not the only one that exists…but its more commonplace than you would think…Especially in Pakistan …perhaps this is not always the case with the educated elite…but more often than not…that’s how it goes for the masses. Of course there are kind, generous men out there that care about their partner’s pleasure as well…but that is not the norm.
Pakistani society is so male-centric and no one can deny that! Despite my knowledge of this fact I was still pretty shocked when I lived there these past few years. I’ll give you an example…(it has nothing to do with sexuality…but it’s astounding nonetheless)
So…During my stay there, I banked with a certain bank…it was a great bank – and I got incredible service…but one of their policies really really just pissed me off. They didn’t hire women…plain and simple…no explanations ....and there was also a certain form I was required to fill out that asked for either my father’s name or husband’s name…I had to be someone’s wife or someone’s daughter… just being me wasn’t enough. I won’t go into details of how I argued…because it didn’t get me anywhere. But seriously, in this fucking century, really?
Let’s just say…I feel really sorry for the wife of the guy who put this policy in place. He must be total crap in bed…and clearly doesn’t have a high opinion of women…so satisfying one sexually is probably not even on his list of things to do.
Its so frustrating, this power imbalance…Aside from the crap that society forces upon us, I'm sure it has something to do with our biological roles too…before DNA testing….and child support…if someone impregnated a girl…wanted nothing to do with their little ‘mistake’ they could simply run off. But the poor pregnant girl would have no choice but to deal with the pregnancy…an abortion is not always acceptable or accessible…what do you do then? Even in terms of intercourse…there is such an obvious indicator for when men are in the mood…it’s practically staring you in the face, lol. And when they’re done…when they’ve had their orgasm…you can’t miss it. But a woman’s orgasm? Who’s gonna know if she actually had one or not? Only her………..
My point is, maybe…not necessarily … but maybe things would have been different if we got erections when we were in the mood…and if we shot out stuff when we were done. With such surefire indicators for a partner…a start and stop….maybe men would do things differently for women. But even then….perhaps it'd still be all about them… *shrug*
Now once again, I'm not saying all men are self-centered in all aspects of life - I wouldn't be married to one that were the case :P
On a related note; a friend of mine in Pakistan had a maid who was surprisingly open minded…and even more surprisingly, spoke to me about sex…I was telling her about my book(blog) and she seemed so interested, at one point she even agreed to do an interview with me…I can’t tell you how thrilled I was – I thought I was finally going to get at least one opinion from a different socioeconomic class….but no such luck…she changed her mind. This is how our conversation went:
Nadia, Female, 26
I think this book is really necessary…I don’t think it will get to the poor people, but if it ever did I would be the first one to read it. If it was in Urdu…there are so many problems with “that” in our society. For instance – I have caught my husband with women several times… he’s holding hands with them….striking up a friendship…I have to be very alert with him. Sometimes I get a feeling…that he’s up to something…and I leave whatever I’m doing…. And run….. run to the bus stop he’s supposed to be at…. And I don’t find him there. I know he’s a big flirt. When I’ve asked him how he would like it if I flirted with someone – he says that he would kill the guy and leave me. But that’s just the way it is ….men are more important. It’s unfair….I just have to watch him carefully…and I have to accept it.
I was just recently divorced and he used to work at the same house I worked at…I suppose he liked me…so he asked our employers if they would assist him in convincing me to marry him…At first, I didn’t agree, but they all told me that he was a nice guy…and that my daughter needed a father, I needed a husband to help support me…our society doesn’t take very kindly to divorced women. So we got married and since he is not of the same ethnic background as me, both our families weren’t happy with the marriage. In fact they kidnapped him and kept him tied up for a day so he couldn’t come back to me and so I would think that he had left me….they even gave him a letter that was supposed to be from me…saying that I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. But he knew it was a scheme to separate us… since I can’t really write. But now our families are happy. He is so good to my daughter from my previous marriage. I have 4 more children with him. I know it’s unwise to have so many children when you’re poor but in the poorer class they expect you to have a son…and they wanted me to keep going till I had a son. I was under tremendous pressure from my sisters in law. Well, out of my 5 children, at least my youngest is a boy. But his family still wants more – I don’t want anymore though. I gave them one boy and that’s enough. They can taunt me and make fun of me all they want…I’m done having kids. So what if I could only produce one son.
Soon after this conversation I received news that she was pregnant again. After bearing five children by the age of 26, I couldn’t believe how she was going to get through another pregnancy. I thought she didn’t want anymore children…I wondered if the pressure to have more sons got to her. When I spoke to her again, she claimed she indeed did not want to have another baby and thought that since she was still breastfeeding her baby boy she wouldn’t be able to conceive. How wrong she was…
Her family wanted to keep the child because the ultrasound showed it was a boy….she still chose to have an abortion. After the abortion she was fine for a while….till she started feeling sick and nauseous again. She was afraid they had left some part of the embryo behind and went to the hospital to have it checked. There they told her she still had a baby inside her… which she didn’t believe since she had had an abortion already. She went to two other places and they told her the same thing. They said it was a miracle…she had originally had twins. One was aborted and one remained perfectly healthy. This one was a girl. Considering this miracle a sign from god – she chose not to have another abortion. Eventually, she delivered a healthy baby girl…. after much thinking and internal conflict…she decided to give the baby away to relatives who could not have a baby of their own. She thought this was the best decision for everyone.
When we met again we had another fairly interesting discussion…
Baji – did you know that there are some women out there who actually enjoy sex… who like it when their husbands touch them? I could never understand that...but this is what my husband told me… and also my aunts daughter… she said she really likes it when she has intercourse with her husband. But I feel nothing. I never have….they say that women can also feel …in their body….exciting sensations… like a man does…. But every time my husband touches me I can’t feel anything. (she said proudly)
Did you know that there are men who like to do it with other men? At first I didn’t believe it… but then this guy made a move on my husband….and I believe him. But that’s so disgusting. I don’t understand…
After her last unplanned pregnancy I suggested, different methods of birth control – even a little snippage couldn't hurt at this point…and since she had just gone through an abortion and delivery…. I suggested she should ask her husband if he would consider it…
Baji – (laughing) I asked my husband about the operation you told me about…. At first he got very scared… he thought I was asking him to chop his …’thing’ off entirely!! (laughs hysterically) but I explained that everything was done on the inside… he was relieved… but still not interested in getting the operation…
What kind of contraceptive do you use?
Well we don’t really use anything….but don’t worry…I can’t get pregnant…because we are doing something….umm how do I explain it to you? Umm….well when he’s done…(becomes shy and stops speaking)
He pulls out before he’s about to finish?
Yes…yes…so see…. We are safe…
Well – that method is not really an effective way of birth control, (I explained to her about ‘pre-ejaculation’ …and how despite using that method ‘accidents’ can happen. When in an economic position like hers… with 5 children and a 6th one given away...you can’t really take such risks…. She was shocked to find out that the method wasn’t 100% guaranteed to prevent unplanned pregnancies)
Later…. After all the enthusiasm she had initially showed about the book(blog)….I guess she went and discussed it with her husband…because after this meeting she refused to speak to me on the subject…. At all…..I told her she didn’t have to answer any questions she didn’t feel comfortable answering…. But she refused to speak about the book(blog) at all. She turned around and walked away…but at least we got to have a couple of short conversations if not a proper interview.
A few months ago, I heard that she got pregnant again…and had to have another abortion.