Monday, June 14, 2010

Premarital Sex? *gasp*



Talk about an explosion of bad design and text distortion. That was on purpose though. :P

(Suhaag Raat = Wedding Night)


Below is a continuation from my previous interviews with fellow Pakistanis about sex of the not-permissible premarital kind, to be precise.

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Honestly, I don’t believe that most people in the world wait until they’re married to have sex…But many Pakistanis will tell you otherwise. Religion will tell you otherwise.

And since, by this time even more people have refused to do an interview with me – I’m getting a smaller slice of the Pakistani pie than before. So really, I now have access to less than a handful of people within a very limited age range because people outside of that age range are either too olds-chool to talk about sex, or too young to be asked about sex. I hope I will find more people to speak with me some day.

These are not ideal conditions for a blog about sex at all...

Moving on however, Pakistani premarital sex… is there a reason for it to be so taboo? And why are the parents of that region dying to pin it onto other people’s children? Why is it that you always hear whispers about so-and-so's child? Why are our desi parents so determined to make all the other neighbourhood kids look bad anyway?

During my university days in Toronto, I was quite an 'outcast' from the Pakistani community – mainly because I wore a lot of black eye makeup and dyed my hair blue. That gave me a starring role in a plethora of strange rumours (witchcraft, devil worship, blood drinking, orgies, etc.)... the funniest of which was one that stemmed from a t-shirt I owned. This t-shirt had a picture of the Hindu goddess Kali on it. Sounds harmless enough, right? I’ve always been very interested in Hindu imagery, I think it’s intensely beautiful, maybe its me trying to find a link to the land of my forefathers... who knows... But that's all there is to it really. I'm not a secret Hindu (as I've been accused of being by aunties and uncles), or anything of the sort...

However, the rumour that came from this shirt was… that I was living with a Hindu guy (in my tiny little dorm room) and was pregnant.

Holy Krishna!

Now, I couldn't stop laughing when it made its way back to me, because my mom had actually warned me and told me that people would say things if I continued to wear this t-shirt out in public. Should've listened. But I thought she was nutty for thinking a tshirt could cause scandal. I clearly don't know desis as well as she does.

I had had very negative responses from Pakistani people who had seen me in this t-shirt but that only encouraged me to wear it more...

There are many methods of showing disapproval within our community and starting rumours seems to be the most popular and malicious one...

Unlike my personal experience, rumours claiming such deviant behaviour can too often result in grave consequences, sometimes even death (mostly for women, that is). You've all heard the stories...In this aspect Pakistan is vastly different from the West where sex outside of marriage is completely acceptable (by the non fundies) and people (women) are still respected members of society. Imagine that. Women get to have sex and be treated like humans.

Anyhoo, I’m not here to judge anyone for their sexual exploits, before or after marriage. Wait, don't wait... when two consenting adults are involved – it really is nobody’s business.

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Ayesha, Female, 28

I identify as a homosexual, though I have not come out yet. If lesbian sex is included in your definition, then yes I have had sex, and I have enjoyed it immensely.

Since I myself have indulged in premarital sex, I really can’t look down on it, nor would I want to. Again as a homosexual, the institution of marriage serves an extremely oppressive patriarchal agenda. If those advocating ‘no pre-marital sex’ are right, then people like me deserve to be celibate their entire lives.

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Layla, Female, 19

Yup, I enjoy having sex but it’s usually followed by a ton of guilt (mainly because of how much my mum would disapprove).
It’s tough to describe my opinions on premarital sex. I definitely understand why it’s not permitted in Islam, it’s like an addiction, and it makes people do things they regret. It’s the reason people confuse love for lust, and well it complicates lives and things in general. So I feel that if you have the will power and the strength…be patient - your day will come. It’ll be something to look forward to other than just sharing your life with that person; it’ll be so much more special. Premarital sex also (I guess it depends on whether you’re with multiple partners or whether you marry that one person u have premarital sex with) makes you lose respect for yourself. I guess each time you indulge in it, it becomes that much easier to do it again, and with time I feel it doesn’t even matter as such who the partner is. You could be drunk and horny and that’s all that will matter. So I’m very for premarital sex.

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Ambreen, Female, 28

I haven’t engaged in premarital sex myself but I don’t see anything wrong with it ... to each his own.....I’m not one to make judgments...I haven’t done it because I was never in a relationship of that sort. One that went to that level....

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Mariam, Female, 26

Sure I enjoy sex… I have no negative feelings attached to sex whatsoever. I think premarital sex works…it depends on what stage you are in your life …so it’s a little subjective. I mean obviously if I’m talking to a girl who’s going to get married by the time she’s 17 or 18 because of family pressures… I don’t think that she should definitely go and have sex when she’s 15, just for the sake of having premarital sex but I think it is important. Especially if you’re getting married at an older more mature age…you need to sort of…experience it …and you need to know how you feel about it and what kind of role its going to play in your life and your marriage. I think it’s very significant. It does your head in… emotionally – and people need to obviously experience it, given the right time and right level of maturity…to come to terms with it in their own way. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it…and I’m not married so I’ve engaged in it myself.

I haven’t had sex with more than one partner at a time…(laughs)…but I have had multiple partners overall…3 partners and no regrets …not really…no. I probably wouldn’t be open to having sex with multiple partners at a time…. It doesn’t work for me.

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Fatima, Female, 25

YEAH!!!!! I love having sex!! (screams out loud) I have felt so guilty about sex. Ok, when you don’t want to be doing what you’re doing because you don’t find it right with whom you’re doing it with and you’re being forced into the circumstances of doing it… you feel very, very guilty as a result. But its only guilt attaching itself to stuff that you DON’T want to be doing, it doesn’t carry over to enjoyable experiences. When I first started having sex with people, I didn’t want to be doing that. I wasn’t ready to be committed to anyone sexually. Actually, I knew I wanted to be doing it, but not with that person and not at that time. I tried to make that clear to him – I was tearing up…and when that didn’t stop the person, I thought there was something wrong with me. He was one of my best friends – I didn’t know if I was gay or if I was straight…But he knew he was very straight. Thankfully I have never been forced into anything by a female.

But I was probably thinking in life that male and female = “different”, female and female = “same” – and so the mental power I had over any woman, was always the same as she had over me, and so she couldn’t get where she wanted to if I didn’t want to go there. However, men were completely different, they were “superior”…that’s what I was told since I was little - it took me a long time to figure out they weren’t. Also, a servant we had growing up – who was brought into the house as another sibling – He molested me and it didn’t just end at me – my cousins even went through it. I had a dead-bolt put on my door only because I didn’t want him walking in while I was changing – I was terrified of him beyond belief. My parents went in complete denial at first – but now I think they’ve realized that he might have dicked me over. Their reaction was shock-horror-horror-and bury it under the carpet. However if anyone ever asks about the man today, my mother will never push his resume forward, which is something she never did before.

But as far as premarital sex is concerned, it’s only natural, I’m not married at all – but yeah I’ve done it myself with several different partners. Times that matter to me I can count. Times that didn’t matter to me, I can’t count.

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Sumeira, Female, 25

Yeah I’ve had premarital sex…I’ve been married as well, I’m divorced … I still have sex. It’s a natural thing, it’s going to happen. I didn’t have an arranged marriage; I got married on my own free will. For some people arranged marriages do work, for a person like me it wouldn’t work. There’s a lot of factors to marriage…you need to know if you guys are similar, if you guys ‘do it’ right even – you’ve got to know these things, you’re going to be with the person for the rest of your life. What if you’re stuck with a bum lay forever – you should obviously experience sex first. I also don’t believe in ‘fuck one person and then marry them’ because you haven’t experienced anything and maybe you’re missing out on a lot. You’ve got one life to live.

I’ve NEVER, EVER, ever, ever…I’ve never felt guilty about sex. Premarital sex is perfectly natural.

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Zobia, Female, 22

I enjoy having sex. It’s a binding force between my husband and me. It’s an exciting new world I have not too recently began exploring and can serve as an excellent stress relief.

I think it’s important to really love and trust the person you lose your virginity to and to be mature enough to know fully what it is that you are doing and what the consequences could be if precautions aren’t taken. When all this is taken into consideration, then I don’t see why premarital sex should be a problem. When I had sex it was a strategically planned operation, it definitely felt like ‘premarital sex’. I think it’s important to add that the only reason I ended up having sex at that stage in our relationship is because I felt like I was ready for it.

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Saira, Female, 22

Umm I think that sex is something that shouldn’t be so taboo.. I don’t think marriage really has anything to do with sex... its probably better to have sex with somebody you trust and love... and can see yourself doing it with more often... but if anyone wants to do it with random people I see nothing wrong with that. It’s their body.

Although, If my child was 14 and having premarital sex, I don’t think I would be ok with it... but if they are my age 22 ... I don’t think I would have any problems. My parents would absolutely have problems with me having premarital sex. I think it has to do with religion and not culture. I would never share it with my parents...there’s no point discussing my point of view with them when I know we are going to have a disagreement. I am a mature adult and I will keep my opinion to my self. Now that I’m getting engaged and eventually married... if they found out they would be upset......they would just marry me off to him. They might just get my Nikah done.

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(I was recently approached by Rabia, who said she wanted to participate in this project. Even though this is years after the previous interviews were done - I was thrilled, not only because she is willing to be open, honest and share her perspective. But because she informed me that she recently began wearing a Hijab. She is the only one of my interviewees that has expressed such a connection with religion. I would normally make the assumption that a Hijabi would not want to participate in a frank discussion about sex, especially not one recorded on the Internet. But I'm happy to be wrong in this instant. It will be interesting to see Rabia's take on things and to see how her views compare to the others.)

Rabia, 23

I have not had sex. Sadly. That seal is yet to be cracked. Hopefully it will before it expires. An odd metaphor I know, but odd is me.

My moral compass hasn’t always been in sync with my religious beliefs, and I have done things that do not go in line with my ‘beliefs’ but as far as premarital sex goes, I have always been pretty firm set against the idea. Not just for religious reasons, but also because it becomes the source of many of society’s problems.


***

It seems most people in this group treat premarital sex as a normal aspect of life. But don't be fooled, it's probably because they're all from a certain socioeconomic class and a certain age-group… - one that tends to have a more liberal point of view.

My heart breaks to hear Fatima's tale, but it's one I've heard too often sadly. Coerced sex, otherwise known as rape. Happens all the time, and unfortunately a lot of people don't even recognize it as that outside of very specific circumstances. Please know that being forced or pressurized to do anything in the bedroom that you're not comfortable with is NOT ok. And if you have tears in your eyes and your partner still doesn't recognize this is wrong, that is a grade A asshole who deserves to be behind bars. Know that. Please. Any indication of hesitation, verbal, non verbal are all cues that people should be picking up. If someone does not want to have sex with you, you need to back the fuck off and not pressurize. Too many women in the world, in Pakistan, have to go through this...without it being recognized for what it is. It doesn't matter if you're married to or best friends with the person, if you do not want to and they force you, there is only one word for this.

The second part of her story is equally heartbreaking. Childhood sexual abuse is an epidemic in Pakistan. Occurring at an alarming rate, unstoppable and undocumented because of the shame associated with it. The predator goes free....onwards to abuse other children. :( Because face-saving is what matters, honour is what matters. This is why we see so much denial around it.

On a lighter note, Rabia, our newest addition, makes things more interesting. FINALLY, a different perspective! I can't say I agree at ALL, but I guess I respect that she stands up for what she believes in, rather than makes excuses for her faith-based ..er...'misconceptions'.

"...because it becomes the source of many of society’s problems."

Umm...seriously? I can think of other things far more problematic than premarital sex. Sure unwanted pregnancies and stuff happen, but I firmly believe that's because we don't arm kids with the knowledge they need to prevent this stuff from happening. We don't talk about sex enough, and we don't educate people about sex enough.

I've seen both extremes...I often find myself wishing for a happy medium in society in general.

If only there was some balance between the frenzied oversexualization of everything in the West, and the ridiculous undersexualization and blatant denial that exists in the East...

4 comments:

  1. Gosh I love these illustrations...this is really turning out to be an awesome blog! I love that you're doing this, so proud of you!!

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  2. i was wondering if you have come across any interviewees who have told you that their first sexual experience was with a relative, it's usually a cousin, (i almost did, but he didnt like me back, lol!) but i have a friend who's first sexual experience was with his khala, and he was asleep at the time too!
    i personally don't think having a sexual relationship with your cousin in incestuous(obviously :p), and cousin sex is probably one of the most common kinds... probably because they are the only ppl of the opposite sex you have access to!

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  3. Out of the interviewees, none claimed to have their first experience with a cousin, but yes i know of several. I even know of a girl who (consensually) fooled around with her mothers brother.... that is just disgusting though, it really gives me the creeps. As for cousin sex, meh, In theory i don't agree at all, and it's definitely not somthing i'd even consider... but there are enough people in my family that have married cousins...so I guess that's probably why it doesnt shock and horrify me, its something i'm used to..

    ... the uncle and aunt thing is a whole other story though.... so your friend was unsuspecting and asleep? WTF! was he traumatized or did he actually enjoy it?

    and you're totally right, people do get involved with cousins because in a lot of families in Pakistan, those are the only members of the opposite sex they have access to...

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  4. yes, he was asleep and unsuspecting and it was his first time too. there was no penetration or anything though. he did obviously eventually wake up, but it was done with by then, if you know what i mean, and all he saw was her leaving.
    he says he was sleeping the whole time, maybe he was trying to sound like the 'innocent' one, maybe he was? and he didnt seem traumatized at all.
    and i know of someone who fooled around with her mom's brother as well, and the mom's bro was the one who was not willing! lol are mom's brothers that appealing? i wonder if he was traumatized...

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