Ok so im gonna stray a little from the porn topic here, I'll continue that next time, cuz i have fun little stories to share.
One night of complete insomnia, led me through a couple of online adventures (the chand sitara was shining too brightly in my head i guess).
After tossing and turning for about 2 hrs, i decided to reopen my laptop... and see if i could find something to keep me entertained, *sigh* not much to do at 3 am... but wait.... whats this, i log on to fb, and I see a conversation between a bunch of non desis about Pakistan's recent acknowledgement of an alternate gender for Heejra's - awesome! I love hearing non-brown people's opinions about Pakistan.
(i personally prefer the spelling Heejra, as opposed to Hijra, just like i prefer Mangos, to Mangoes *shrug* can't say why really, but i do - in case u hadn't noticed, i also have a disregard for punctuation)
([click to zoom] I'm not normally one to push my taste in music on others, mostly cuz i'd like to keep it for myself :P but this time, one of my favourite songs kept playing itself over and over in my head....it's just so appropriate, like all the time... but in this instance too...I'm sure most of you don't like industrial music... but if you want to check it out, i've added the video below. I remember when I was a teenager, I painted the lyrics to this song above my bed, and my parents were so disturbed, lol)
So a (non-brown) trans friend puts this as his status:
"Go, Pakistan. It's not every day that a third gender gains legal status."
and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside... ya know... like, hurray, we're being praised for something... and not being talked about in the context of terrorism for a change.
Anyhoo some interesting comments follow;
Jon: Really? Pakistan!? Wow.
Mark: I would look at the reality that faces those with the third gender before praising the lawmakers. Also, see the reality of gender rights as a whole in Pakistan. Somewhat lacking.
Gabby: While technically a step forward and perhaps even preferable than the alternative in some regards, I have to honestly question the wisdom of an official document basically outing people as transgendered anywhere they go.
Jen: I think it is awesome!
Mark: Its major limitation is that by being defined as 'not men' the people affected actually will likely lose rights to basic legal freedoms that they might have benefited from beforehand. There is a pretty sordid history of Pakistani women being subjected to fairly heinous crimes and by large measure, male culprits face little in the way of punishment. There is a high profile case right now of a woman who was gang raped and who has been largely vilified. The men involved have been acquitted of wrongdoing and the woman will at the least suffer serious social stigmatization. The impact for transgendered persons will undoubtedly be negative until Pakistan properly recognizes the rights of all people through both legal and social avenues.
Trey: Pakistan sets a global precedent. Hijra have it rough, and I get that, but the last census showed upwards of 300,000 of them. Hundreds of thousands of transwomen. In one country. And there was nothing said about transmen. ...Mark, you always have incredible insight, but I can't help but think that it's a good thing. I understand that with registration comes with legal stricture, but it also comes with protections. It will be interesting to see what happens.
(Course I jump in, but dunno if i was making any sense at that hour)
Eiynah: @ Gabby - they out themselves ... they make sure they look different from the rest of society, and they kind of have their own culture (the Hijras) there is no way u wouldn't know one if u saw one. @ Trey - i personally think its a fantastic step to take... but i fear it'll be revoked or dropped at some point soon... it is pretty cool that pakistan is one of the first to do this :)
Gabby: While I am certain that their situation has it's particular nuances and circumstances, I feel being labeled a third gender is missing the point of a lot of transgender issues. It is, in it's own way, still segregating.
Eiynah: perhaps in certain situations it is, but in Pakistan - being acknowledged as 'not within the confines of male or female', is a pretty big step..this will at least (hopefully) give them an opportunity to integrate into mainstream society
Mark: RE: Eiynah@Gabby, Some do out themselves certainly. But there may (or not) be a hidden population that identify as either male or female for socio-political reasons. A birth certificate saying 'other' may hinder this ability to lead normal lives, albeit untrue ones. RE: Trey, I can understand what you are saying, and I'm sorry that I derailed an otherwise happy thread. I would cheer about it if I thought that Pakistan had any significant ability to enforce its laws but I don't think the state does outside of Islamabad and Karachi, and given that weakness in Pakistan my concern is that this move may be at best an ill thought out pr stunt, and at worst a means of registering people who will later become targets of political and religious oppression.
Trey: This conversation is really neat, because each of you - Eiynah, Gabby, and Mark - have such different perspectives. I would consider each of you people who could speak intelligently on this topic, but for completely different reasons.
The registration of Hijras in Pakistan kinda reminds me of - PLEASE EXCUSE THE COMPARISON - the legal discussion of legalizing sex work in Canada.
WAIT! Don't mis-read what I'm saying. I would compare the two because with rights come regulation and the potential for mandated, legal, inequitable treatment.
Both groups face the potential for sexual exploitation, harassment, and flat out torment. Both groups need protection. That's why I compare the two. That's the ONLY basis for comparison. Seriously.
And Mark? You didn't derail anything...I'm happy to have this conversation on my wall. Speaking as a transperson AND as a dude who likes decent, informed dialogue.
Amanda: I, too, find this conversation interesting. I was, however, under the impression that those who identify as hijra, were not being called 'a third gender' or 'hijra' as a positive use of language but more a description of what a person is not...as in, neither male nor female, or, in the case of hijra as basically not part of society. While I too see this acknowledgment in law as a small step in a positive direction, it still strikes me as 'othering'. Trans people have been around since the dawn of time and yet we still have a long way to go to embrace all people as individuals. I find it disconcerting to be labeled on my identification and sorted into washrooms by my sex - and lets face it, when it comes to washrooms, wouldn't it be preferable to be coded according to how clean or messy we are likely to leave the facility rather than what shape our genitals are at the moment?!
Trey: I wish I understood Pakistani culture better so that I had SOME conception of what 'Hijra' means. You're right, Amanda...every article I've seen so far has discussed Hijra as 'other'. BUT, all of the news articles that I've read have been... written by 'others'; by Britons or Americans or Canadians. I have not read a single article by a Hijra or, for that matter, by a Pakistani author.
I agree that it's a little ridiculous to be labeled by identifications like gender and sex; there are ANY NUMBER of more applicable labels (like cleanliness of toiletry habits? LOL!)
But society - particularly Western Society (because that's what I know) - DOES code people by gender.
It is really exciting to me to think that some government SOMEWHERE may conceive of someone kinda-sorta like me as someone deserving of legal status.
While the media has reported that the Hijra can be designated 'E' (for eunich) on their documents, they have made no reports of the deeper implications of this ruling. I would love to imagine that it would be possible to have a third gender on Canadian documents, and I am looking to the news from Pakistan for comfort.
I am imposing MY conception of gender and MY conception of social interaction on these articles. I am picturing myself as a person who has just gained the legal right to list myself as 'E' on my identity cards. That's rad. But very uniformed.
Gabby: Certainly, as someone born in the west, I feel that I must acknowledge that, for all I know, this could be the best thing to happen to these people in a long time. I honestly don't know.
Still, I would feel somewhat concerned if, here in the... west, my personal ID were to identify me as something "other" than x or y. I would honestly question as to whether I'm being given some genuine form of acknowledgment, or merely being branded with a modern day scarlet letter.
Personally, as someone who sees gender as a gradient as opposed to a binary, I would rather we do away with the whole idea of gender identifiers on personal ID, as I find it rather irrelevant. A girl can dream, can't she?
Mark : Re: Trey, maybe I can help as I have a (very limited) awareness of Pakistani cultural and ethical codes. The Hijra are commonly seen as little more than prostitutes and beggars and are openly ridiculed on the streets. I don't know what their parental situation is and while I assume it to be quite ruthless in some households, I can imagine that there are many who lead closeted lives within accepting households.
The traditional cultural laws (Islamic influenced but not necessarily religious) do not accept homosexuality as good moral or ethical behavior and there is a prevalent conception that any emotional or sexual interaction with someone of 'ambiguous' sex is correspondingly Wrong.
Also, it is no secret that poverty in Pakistan is a serious problem and the Hijra are represented exclusively within the lowest economic strata of society. These people are unlikely to carry identification of any kind, lack basic food security, have nothing in the way of support networks organized through any government or NGOs. Their primary support networks are informal and may include a group of Hijra living together in a slum and pooling resources earned through begging and prostitution, and reliance on sympathetic Muslims who believe that it is their duty to help others who are less fortunate (as many middle-class Muslims do).
The reasons there are no Hijra among the middle or upper economic strata is twofold. First, they may be hidden or closeted by supportive family members who have the resources to support a dependent. Secondly, they are ostracized and turfed out as pariah. Social stigma forces unemployment, and they end up on the streets at the low end of the economic spectrum.
Its impossible to talk about drop in centers, or legal aid in a place like Pakistan. They simply don't exist. And the growing influence of radicalized forms of Islam will almost certainly present more obstacles to the plight of the Hijra.
If we were talking about any country that can enforce a rule of law then I would applaud the decision. As it is, I actually can't see any benefit, other than PR, but if someone can shed some light on this I would appreciate it.
Eiynah: I'm assuming im the only Pakistani in this discussion, but Amanda, your perception is absolutely correct. The term is not a positive one, and they are most certainly perceived as a group 'outside' the bounds of society, But in this otherness, they have a unique acceptance in our culture as well. They do coexist with the religious fundamentalists.. and so far, no one has had a serious'religious issue with their existence..in fact they participate in a lot of weddings, and when babies are born. They are a part of our culture, and surprisingly, they arent often threatened for their unconventional appearance and flaunting of sexuality... but then again, they're not treated like a regular member of society either. Basically, they're excluded to the point that no one really cares, not even the bearded crazies (this may be a blessing in disguise). (my apologies to the bearded uncrazies - those exist too!)
@ Mark there may be some people who live life as male or female.... but the majority often are disowned and join the hijras or they run away and join the hijras... plus if ur closeted, you're not really considered a hijra then. And if u can live ur life closeted, then you're obviously free to choose M or F on your ID card...this is only something that would effect the ppl that live openly as hijras in the first place.
@ Gabby, i can see how coming from a western perspective, this would be disturbing.. and really, you've got to see each country for where it stands, we cant put the same standards of 'freedom' on every nation, because a lot of them wouldnt apply everyhwere. In the West, if such a law were ever to be passed, you would prolly have a choice to opt out of identifying as anything... but in the east - acknowledgement is the first step. In a nation where most ppl cant even read or write their own name, sometimes a more complex set of freedoms would complicate things further... this is why pakistan needs to start in simple baby steps. My only concern is that this may not last - not that i think its a PR thing, cuz in a traditional Pakistani perspective, its not exactly.. positive....we as a nation dont really thrive on giving our people freedoms or acknowledging their sexuality, or alternative lifestyles..we'd much rather portray that there is no such thing in our country as hijras...
* * *
So there you have it folks, that was an exciting little discussion involving at least 1 trans person themselves. Of course, not everything said about the motherland was positive, but seriously, how could it be...just one look at the news will tell you there isn't too much to praise :(
And, I'm sure you, my fellow Pakistanis will have some interesting things to say about this conversation. Since most of this is a complete outsider's perspective, I find it quite interesting.
* * *
So, once that part of my night was over, i made my way over to twitter and there somehow, a fairly religious muslim guy wanted to start a conversation. Now you know, I'm always on the look out for more interviewees, especially male ones - and hey someone representing the more conservative side, it couldn't get any better than that. So we chatted for a bit, he was a nice guy...genuinely interested in the blog. He seemed pretty open, and wanted to talk about sexuality... Masturbation in particular, lol. So he asked some general questions which i was more than happy to answer... but then he began asking for details... as in he wanted to get to know more about my own personal habits. Oh jeez, here we go, I thought to myself...this is where this turns from an intellectual discussion about sex and sexuality to a wankfest for someone on the other end.
And i shouldnt be surprised really, I am a woman from a muslim background, writing about sex... its bound to get someone off...just funny that that hadn't occurred to me from the beginning of this project. (lately I've defnitely been receiving a lot more questions about my own personal sex life, all from men of course...)
but you know, in his defense, when i said i wasnt going to answer any personal questions like that... he said he'd back off. But then it did keep cropping up...perhaps he was hoping i'd slip in a detail or two without noticing... lol, i can't really blame him... he's just a regular horny guy i guess... just like i saw an opportunity for an interview, he saw an opportunity for something else i suppose. Can't blame a guy for trying. By the end of it, he said he'd consider an interview only if i made it worth his while and gave him more details about my own masturbation habits.... LMAO, well thats where that ended. But we still talked the next day.... so I guess he is interested in simple conversation as well...
I've lost my end of the conversation, because that's not delivered to my email, and twitter apparently deletes direct msgs after they reach a certain point... here are some the things that were said;
so i was reading through your blog - particularly found the masturbation interviews interesting.
whats your personal opinion on masturbation?
so yeah... whats your personal opinion?
do you know of folks who consider themselves religious who do it?
Are these people you know well, or interviewees? women as well, though? and married people?
more than anything, it was this insatiable curiosity that fascinated me...i totally wanted to keep talking to him, cuz we're such different creatures, you know..and i for one, believe curiosity is a good start to anything...
it would be refreshing to talk frankly and personally to a muslim woman who does it.
mostly im wondering if they feel religiously conflicted about it, and if that affects how frequently they do it, etc.
(talking to a girl abt masturbation) it would be a huge turn on. im not trying to be weird or hiding that lol
and fair enough, i can totally see why...
cause its different to speak personally than just hear some semi-anonymized information, you know?
>masturbation however is so different, so rarely talked about personally unless it turns into something odd.
As a muslim male, you can totally see the inner conflict... he wants to talk about it, but there is definitely guilt and hesitation that comes through..
so are you of the opinion that a healthy married muslim woman needs to incorporate both sex and masturbation into their lives?
ah, so no masturbation conflict to you, right? ;)
he refers to the religous conflict i might have, by thinking its wrong...but im not a religious person...then i ask if he faces an internal conflict about masturbation himself..
yes, and i assume you do it fairly regularly as well?
before you got married was it more frequent? and does sex always fulfill the same pleasure need?
At this point im trying to keep it as general as possible, and I said, 'Usually I'm the one doing the interviewing, hey would u be open to doing one?'
i might be open to it if you would be open to my asking you more as well lol
well im more interested in how you "discovered yourself" and what your masturbation habits were like before being a relationship.
i admit its a bit of turn on, but really its not that, its more "real" than anything else when speaks about it themselves. can understand it being odd so i won't push it. just never had that kind of convo before. i can drop it though
Lol, at least he's honest, and of course I knew he wasnt asking all this for purely intellectual discussion purposes ;) At this point I had to ask if he had a beard...since he considered himself a religious person...he does... just an interesting fact.
and, i just had to point out that wanting to hear about a woman's experiences first hand wasnt very islamic either, kind of like reading erotica...
of course its not "good" in the sense that it isn't making me any more religious, but then again neither are a lot of things.
i think erotica is probably in the mind of the reader, you could be absolutely factual and vague and some would consider it erotica.
but your point is valid.
The true path of Islam is really striving in the way of God. People assume that to mean very literal things. Jihad literally is "struggle"
people associate it with war and killing.
but my Jihad could be an addiction to alcohol, or overeating, etc.
So I feel Islam is trying to always perfect yourself, knowing you can't attain it and relying on God's mercy when you screw up.
(the blog)its unusual and hence a turn on in a way
You have a lot in common with people growing up in Islam, yet you are open about sex. That there is a turn on for a lot people im sure.
me: .. ok so im gonna contact you for the interview...
i'll consider your offer if you consider some more details from your experiences. Lol
here we go again, lol...guess i had enough to write about from just trying to get the interview... by then it was time for me to attempt sleep again, at this point i could hear the bloody birds chirping. Agh.
And for the record, as important as interviews are to me, i am never going to give up stroke material as a trade...just sayin' ;) Cheers!