The (Liberal) Asian Guide to Sex (– before marriage)
Shock! Horror! So for those of you who are not regular readers of my blog and my other articles (Hi, and muchas gracias for stopping by) you will be aware that I am a Feminist. And more importantly I view myself to be a British Asian Feminist.
It is due to my British and Asian upbringing that sometimes the issues that concern me vary from the wider feminist community and there is one pesky little issue that has been troubling me for some time…sex. Not just your regular seen in the media 50 Shades of Grey Sex. But (OMG) sex – before – marriage! An unthinkable crime for any British Asian girl, and for those who do indulge in this face social isolation worse than somebody diagnosed with leprosy.
(Quick warning – any Conservative prudes or enforcers of patriarchy or those with reductionist and restrictive gender stereotype ideas please stop reading – your head may just explode with my liberal ideas.)
To many of you this does not seem like a big issue as it is a personal choice, and I do not judge those who do have sex any differently to those who do not. To the sane individual sex before marriage does not seem like a reason for slut shaming, name calling, cultural isolation, judging, the fear of being disowned and a whole range of other lovely behaviours designed to make females of the British Asian community feel like shit about themselves. But sadly there are some out there who view sex outside of marriage for those in the British Asian community (mainly females) to be shameful and sinful.
So lets kick this off…the concept of marriage. Why is sex only acceptable after marriage? I know many will cite religion and the concept of sin as the explanation. Firstly not everybody adheres to his or her respective religion, and secondly we are all sinners. Do not judge somebody just because they ‘sin’ differently to you.
So fucking what if a female has sex before marriage? Will the world end? Will there be a plague upon our houses? Will the moon crash into the earth? No. All that will happen is that she will challenge the status quo and reject a position of femininity that has been dictated to her. Now call me crazy (many of those who know me personally do) but I’m sure that it is more acceptable for two individuals who are in loving, respectable and caring relationship to have sex – as opposed to upholding the valued ideal of virginity and in some cases marry someone as good as a stranger and be expected to get jiggy with it on your wedding night…
Secondly the issue of honour. Ah that old concept that is literally a thorn in my side. Why oh why and I really do struggle with this – why is concept of honour equated with virginity? If somebody decided that my ‘honour’ and his or her ‘respect’ for me is based upon my hymen I would think that you my friend are a top of the class dickhead.
The notion of female purity is not new – it is an idea as old as time, but sadly an idea that the British Asian community clings to. What baffles me further is that an all too common view of my generation that females who remain virgins are reinstating their ‘uniqueness’ by remaining ‘pure’. I would like to point out that sex is a personal choice, but those who refrain for the sake of honour are merely just conforming to a role dictated by a patriarchal society. WAKE UP! Being a virgin does not guarantee your honour anymore than the ability to make chapattis whilst doing a handstand.
Women have been taught for centuries that their worth is determined by virginity. That their bodies are not really their own, but merely property for the consumption of men. The virginity ideal dominant in British Asian communities takes on a sinister role in cases of grooming, sexual abuse and exploitation. When a female is taught that her worth is based on her purity it allows sexual predators the power to carry out abuse knowing that the stigma attached to victims who report these heinous acts.
And finally for those of you who are eager to judge others for their actions please remember that virginity is just another social construct designed to control females. Want further proof? Examine the ways in which male sexual prowess is celebrated. Female sexuality has never had the luxury of being private, but always under the scrutiny of society. The idea of a female (especially a British Asian female) enjoying sex is a threat to her passive position and a direct challenge to male authority. Long gone are physical chastity belts, but invisible ones still exist in all their ugly and restrictive form today.
Virginity is used all too often as a reductionist tool within the British Asian community to shame and set the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’. Sadly dignity and respect are seen to by synonymous with virginity. So how about this crazy concept…how about if dignity and respect is about having the power and strength to control and dictate your own sexual experiences? How about if dignity and respect is about empowering each other, rather than judging or shaming others for their sexual activities to make yourself look better?
Having sex does not make you a bad person. It does not make you mean that you are corrupted with westernisation. It does not mean that others can call you a slut. It does not mean that your marriage choices are restricted. It does not mean that you have no honour. And equally choosing not to have sex does not mean any of the above either.
So just remember…
Until next time…x