Thursday, February 24, 2011
Now here's a gem I found on YouTube, lol. This is obviously not a video from Pakistan, but sadly, many people in our country echo these very beliefs. ("at the most, she should be flogged", LOL do you believe this guy?)
K, lets leave that behind.
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Back to our interviewees:
This group of Pakistani women didn’t have trouble acknowledging the existence of masturbation at all. But let’s not forget they are all educated, well-off individuals (the only demographic that was open enough to speak to me, unfortunately)….the women are definitely far more liberated than their average Pakistani counterparts.
But the fact that even the 'liberated' and 'educated' Pakistani women are talking about such a topic…is definitely a big deal. I was able to ask them how often they think about sex…and they were open to that. But asking them how often they masturbate…. I don’t think most of them were ready for that. So I settled for their thoughts on the subject. More general yes….but better that than nothing. One thing you have to keep in mind while interviewing people on a very sensitive and controversial topic…is that you don’t want to cross the line…if you start asking them questions that they aren’t comfortable answering…they’re going to feel vulnerable and they’re going to shut you out. You won’t end up getting as much information as you would have if you didn’t push their limits. Especially being Pakistani and talking about sexuality… puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position anyway (for countless reasons)….so you really have to be cautious of where you’re treading….
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Ayesha, Female, 28
I think about sex once a day mostly, sometimes I go a few days without thinking about it, which always comes as a surprise.
Masturbation is an important part of life. What is needed in Pakistan is a need to accept desire as a basic human need, like hunger and thirst. Desire is criminalized while procreation is sanctified – no wonder we’re a schizophrenic nation. Once desire is given its basic importance, then masturbation ought to lose its negative connotations also. In our society it’s almost better to rape than to masturbate.
Layla, Female, 19
I don’t really keep track of how often I think about it (sex). But on an average maybe 5 times a week. It all depends on what I’m doing who I’m around etc.
As for masturbation…who needs men…haha…naah just kidding - it’s alright once in a while, but if you do it too often it loses its thrill. I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just a lot more fun when you have a partner, so much more real and thrilling.
Ambreen, Female, 28
Yea, I definitely think about sex everyday…and you know, I don’t see anything wrong with masturbation………..(pause)….for both genders.
Mariam, Female, 26
Oh no … I don’t think about sex everyday. Given that I’m in a steady relationship and have been for a long time… I don’t think I actively think about sex unless I’m trying to schedule it into a busy week. In terms of fantasizing…..uhhh……it’s rare. Even in terms of wanting to do it…. I probably think about it once or twice a month….because I’m the kind of person ….for me…everything has to be right… I have to have had a stress-less day… I have to be in a good mood, the surrounding has to be nice…for my kind of relationship…sex is remotely a factor that binds us together…the dynamic in every relationship is different…for me… lets just say its not the strongest factor in our relationship. Perhaps if it was… maybe I would be giving you different answers.
I think it’s (masturbation) great for both sexes… I think nobody knows you like you know yourself….and I think it’s crazy to deprive yourself of uncomplicated relief every now and then…because it can get pretty complicated with a partner….emotionally…
Women definitely don’t talk about it….it’s very acceptable for men to say they masturbate…. Its like a big brotherhood thing…I’ve actually never even had a conversation with any of my girlfriends…and I have a lot of really close girl friends…we joke about it every now and then, but there’s never been a serious conversation. I guess it’s because women were more shy initially...and now it’s become one of those things… that haven’t been talked about for so long….I guess everyone just goes along with that…. I mean, I personally have no problems talking about it... but I have to be sure…that the person I’m talking to is somebody who’s on my ‘planet’….we have to be on the same page….otherwise I’m not going to feel comfortable…..even with a friend who I think might find it a little weird…I’m not gonna go there (laughs)…initially, I think women were shy about it because it has some kind of ‘dirtiness’ attached to it….I mean just going out and looking for sex for women is so much of a bigger deal than it is for men. In the same vein, getting yourself off is considered wrong. Women going after anything sexual themselves… with their partner or with themselves… is just socially taboo….I don’t agree with that…
Fatima, Female, 25
I suppose we all think of sex everyday or every second day or so… something like that…
Everyone should masturbate. It’s actually good for your health. It’s good to be in touch with your body or not be afraid of your body or be afraid of touching yourself.
I ask the world to masturbate.
It is important, you get to know yourself better – YOU get to know what YOU like. I think in our society at least, women are very afraid of sexuality or anything outside of the baby-making scenario. But maybe men do need to jack off a whole lot more – maybe they’re just hornier.
Sumeira, Female, 25
I think about sex everyday…and it plays a pretty major role in my life.
Everyone should masturbate – I don’t think women are comfortable talking about it … but I still think they do – it’s a natural part of life. Women aren’t comfortable talking about it because they think of it as disgusting…but its not – it’s natural.
Zobia, Female, 22
Lately I haven’t had much of a chance to think about sex…I think it would be safe to say I’ve been thinking about it roughly every other day…a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there…nothing too long and drawn out…haven’t had time for that. I think sex is important and good sex is vital for people who have decided to be committed only to one another for the rest of their lives. It does play a big role in my life, but as of late, has taken a bit of a back seat.
Both men and women masturbate, men admit to it more freely though (as society clearly understands and accepts that they do so) whereas women hesitate to agree to doing any such thing, because society makes them feel like it is not what a decent woman would do. Also, it is safe to say that women may at first have difficulty locating their clitoris and understanding their genitals fully, making it more complicated a task for them to masturbate. I think its ok for either sex to masturbate.
Saira, Female, 22
No – not everyday. (laughs) maybe if I had more time....but I have bigger things to worry about ... that’s a funny question. I never really thought about 'thinking' about sex... I have so much stuff to do during the day. I'd say minimum 3-4 times a week, when I speak to my partner... whenever I have free time and my brain is not pre-occupied with other stuff...right now in my life because there is too much going on...its something I think about when I don’t have anything else to think about.
I think it is actually very healthy to practice masturbation – for both men and women... there’s nothing wrong with it....as long as you’re not doing it in a public place and making people uncomfortable (laughs) ... yeah I think women lie about masturbation....because it’s still not accepted in our society. Because with men you just think yeah they're horny..... But women...you think maybe she needs to be married.......maybe her partner doesn’t please her.
Rabia Female, 23
I don’t think about sex every day, considering I engage in no such activity. But I would say it comes up often around me. Whether that is a conversation with a friend, an article or something on television (no, not porn) – I do find myself thinking about the kinds of things I would do for my husband.
Don’t see the need for masturbation if you can just have sex. If we’re talking about “playing with yourself’ then that is something that does put me off, but if we’re talking about sexually stimulating a partner, then I could be more inclined on offering my services.
Farah, Female, 29
I don’t think about sex everyday. It depends on the context, the outside influences, the time of month even.
Masturbation is natural – shouldn’t be vilified. In some cultures it’s much more acceptable than in others, and the notions that it is harmful to the institution of marriage is ludicrous.
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So that's that. None of the women (except Rabia who first appeared in an older post, she is our one and only religious interviewee) seem opposed to masturbation. I thought at least a couple of women would stay true to their stereotype and either deny that it happens often within their gender…or at least look down upon it. But no…these ladies definitely approve of it. The words ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ are even brought up...
A few years ago when my interaction with other Pakistanis was more limited…I would have never imagined this type of accepting attitude to the topic of masturbation. If I stake a step back…it does still boggle my mind…these are Pakistani women…I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of an average Westerner….and such liberal opinions are shocking (from an outsiders perspective)…after all, these women are from a society that condemns female sexuality. If a woman smokes a cigarette in public…she’s a whore…and here are these women…saying that masturbation is natural…healthy….for both sexes. Un-fucking-believable. It just goes to show that you can’t generalize opinions about a nation, a country, a race….a religion…
By saying it’s ok…and it should be done…they’re admitting to doing it. Obviously if I asked them straight up whether they masturbate or not, it would be much harder to look me in the eye and say “yes” to that question – but even accepting it in an indirect way is a giant leap for womankind in Pakistan. If they come out and say that they have sexual urges, needs and desires just like the men…then perhaps more Pakistani women will get the good sex they deserve. Even if it starts off with themselves. This way, they will know good sex, and accept nothing less.
Hurray! Orgasms for everyone…
Ayesha sees sexual urges as a basic human need…she goes on to describe Pakistan as a ‘schizophrenic’ nation…that description amuses me on so many levels. I love my country, but honestly… I think a lot of us have felt the schizophrenia time and time again. Double standards are an epidemic and logic often cannot be found to back up cultural norms. All I’m saying, is that its time to change… just a little bit…According to Ayesha, when Pakistan acknowledges carnal desire as a human trait…masturbation will eventually lose it’s bad rep. She leaves us with yet some more chilling words,
“In our society it’s almost better to rape than to masturbate.”
She is definitely one of the harshest critics within the group…of course our society doesn’t promote or accept rape…but if you know the right people…you’re well-connected and you rape a poor girl from an unimportant family… your maid perhaps…it’s quite easy to get away with in those circumstances. Lots of feudal men still think women exist for their pleasure…and if you’re poor, you certainly don’t have any right to refuse your ‘master’. Oddly though, these very men can be ultra-religious, simultaneously…. I’ve always found that combination so incredibly strange… but yet it exists everywhere. Some priests have been known to molest children…and Molwi’s from a mosque have been known to do the same. How is it that a man can rape someone and get up and go pray…or go preach against the sins of “self-abuse”…it’s despicable. So, in that sense….Ayesha’s words may be quite harsh…but hold some truth.
It seems that most of them think about sex at least once every couple of days if not more….except Mariam….sex clearly isn’t on her mind as often as the others…but she’s previously given us some insight into why she thinks her sex life is somewhat lacking….I suppose that could lead a person to desire sex less often. But hey – at least she’s not opposed to providing herself with stress-free relief…and she feels pretty strongly about it. Good for her…if sex gets complicated with a partner…at least she has an alternative.
“…I think it’s crazy to deprive yourself of uncomplicated relief every now and then…because it can get pretty complicated with a partner….emotionally…”
You know what I like most of all about writing this blog? …I just love how people’s individual personalities are beginning to unravel by this point. You can tell that Ayesha’s a feisty feminist…a critic at heart…and I’m sure many can identify with Mariam’s relationship…she seems like a rational person with a good head on her shoulders…she finds a way to make it work. From her comments, Sumeira still seems bitter about her parents divorce….she has a way of stating things exactly how she sees them…she doesn’t feel the need to tone down her language… or embellish anything. Ambreen seems to be a quiet, more conservative girl…arranged marriage and all….but there have been moments where she isn’t as conservative as you might believe….I could go on about them…and what I can gather about their personalities just based on the interviews…but then we’ll stray off topic for way too long.
Some great final words come from Fatima… and I can think of no better way to finish this up:
“I ask the world to masturbate.”
Friday, February 11, 2011
Wow, I‘ve never felt such writer’s block. Every time I sit down to start this post, I have absolutely nothing to say. Usually, I have to curb myself…because my mind is going faster than I can type….but not this time……nothing……a post about touching yourself shuts me the hell up. Who would've known. A woman who can’t talk about masturbation …oh I’m such a cliché…
I sit here counting the days till we finally see signs of spring, the ground is still covered in a thick sheet of snow...there's not a single leaf to be seen...but there will be...i'm pretty sure of that. Ah rejuvenation, fertility, reproduction..... thats what spring's about.....No wonder you see so many pregnant women out in that time of year...it’s amazing…it’s so natural…..even nature does it. :P
Most of us have sexual urges (asexuality is another post in itself) - sometimes those urges lead to sex, because sex is a great and natural part of adult life…and sometimes sex leads to reproduction, which is wonderful for some, but it's not something that everyone wants or chooses, and that's ok too.
But what about the times that sex isn’t an option? What then? Is satisfying yourself a dirty deed….or is it completely natural? Just like spring rain….maybe it’s supposed to happen every once in a while….
Great, I’m back…I’m rambling…and all thanks to looking out the tv screen that is my window. I love nature. Not in that way. :/
Here we go... Masturbation in a Muslim nation...
Growing up – no one ever talked to me about it…I did hear stories however…probably stories from the 'immoral' West, either I heard about it on TV…or read about it somewhere. These stories were about the evils of masturbation; how it could make you blind, make you grow hair on your palms…increase or cause acne - they were horrific…but I felt very removed from such stories as my parents never said anything about it. Sexuality wasn't really ever discussed.
I didn’t even know masturbation existed for the longest time! Of course eventually I was bound to find out. In school I would often hear guys bragging about it, It was funny when the guys made jokes…it seemed like a perfectly natural activity for them. But it never occurred to me that all the girls were silent…or uncomfortable during such conversations. Our school (in Saudi Arabia) had people from over 50 nationalities (at least), but no girl…from anywhere in the world…ever mentioned masturbation.
So, naturally I grew up thinking that female masturbation was not a good thing. If it were in any way normal or acceptable, there wouldn’t be this silence…. obviously…
It was simple, the way I saw it, men could masturbate… talk about feeling 'horny' and wanting sex, but if a woman were to do that it'd be considered highly 'unfeminine' or unladylike. At the same time however, I never thought it could cause blindness or hairy palms or any such thing. I always knew that was a bunch of crap.
Our Sex Ed. class which was pretty extensive especially for a school in Saudi never covered masturbation either. In my mind it was a pretty big mystery…
I recall my dad had brought us this set of encyclopedia-type books…they were all about “The Questions Children Ask” or something … those books helped me out with a school project on hot air balloons and answered all sorts of other questions that a young mind could have, pre internet. They were nicely illustrated and the books were all colourful, as you went through the series each got progressively more advanced and for the most part, when they stopped having pictures and being colourful…I just wasn’t interested in reading on.
My siblings and I referred to these books often. As the internet-less years rolled by, I went back to those books from time to time…progressing through even the ones that didn’t have pictures! With each book, the topics became more advanced. One day I decided to look at the last book in the set - it must have been a painfully boring and scorching hot day in Saudi Arabia. I was done with all my Archie comics (yes I read those :P )…there was never anything on TV because there were only two channels and one of them was Arabic.
I distinctly remember grabbing the dark green book off the shelf. I sighed, opened the pages and looked for something interesting to read. While going through the book, I realized that this wasn’t a book for children at all (my oh my)…in fact, this last book in the set was for parents and how they should tackle the more ‘awkward/tricky’ situations in family life, “Very interesting” I thought….
I knew I wasn’t supposed to be reading this. I came across a page discussing masturbation and how to explain it to your children…and that…was the first time I fully understood what it actually was. That was an information overload. I quietly replaced the book on the shelf and pretended I never saw it. A few days later….I noticed it was gone…I’m pretty sure my mom took a look at it and realized it wasn’t for us kids, and that was the last I saw I of the book for a long time.
Well, it’s a good thing I had some answers and had read that parenting book on how to address more complex issues with your children. Because as a big sister…whenever my younger siblings had any questions they felt uncomfortable approaching our parents with, they always came to me. It wasn’t easy, since I never knew what my mother would want me to say to them in such situations. I was afraid of getting in trouble because *I* didn’t want to be the one to tell them about sex or masturbation when I didn’t know where my parents stood on the subject of discussing it with their kids.
When I was asked, I did the best I could… One time in particular, I remember my brother came and asked me what 'masturbation' was and that some boys were telling him about it in school. Oh gawsh. I explained it to him, awkwardly/vaguely and then he went and asked my mom, he told her that I had already spoken to him on the subject. Just as I feared, I was in trouble. She told me I shouldn’t be talking to him about this stuff, that he was too young (he was like 10). I remember feeling really bad about it afterwards. Looking back at that lecture I got from my mother, I think it’s quite commendable she didn’t tell me it was a vile and disgusting act.. and that I should have never mentioned it at all - she just said my brother was too young to discuss these things.
Coming back to the present day, before I actually began writing this post, I was awfully curious to find out why I hadn’t heard anything crazy from my parents or relatives about masturbation (blindness, etc). So a few weeks ago, I called my mom and asked her what the conservative Muslim opinion was on the topic. Aside from the fact that she was a bit surprised to hear the question, she didn’t really have much to say. She thought about it and said the she couldn’t speak for all Muslims, but as a culture many Pakistani’s like to pretend it doesn’t exist and so don’t feel the need to tell their children frightening lies about what horrible bodily harm it could cause them. They just assume their children don’t do it. So there hasn’t been a need for stories. Damn.
I told you denial was a Pakistani national pastime. I don’t know which is worse, telling people they will become blind from it, or not acknowledging it at all....
So thats my bit... next time, more from the interviewees and their tales of 'self-discovery'.