Tuesday, May 4, 2010
By Emaan at 8:37 AM
Women of my homeland in: Unrelenting Contention
Amir Normandi, 30Y series
Technically, one would say that Muslim eroticism or Islamic erotica is an oxymoron. But I don't really understand why. In the recent years, a lot of art has surfaced looming around sexuality and the female form under the shadow of Islam. I posted a long time back about Sarah Maple, whose painting landed her the famous 15 minutes of fame. It is sometimes difficult to assume whether such art is merely for instant talk and controversy, or is there real substance behind it all.
Talking as a Muslim woman brought up in a very controversial setting – very conservative parents, my secret drawer that had everything un-Islamic and a Christian boyfriend – it is sometimes so confusing and conflicting to understand what I should and must be doing in contrast to what I should and must NEVER do. When I look at such art, it sort of reminds me of me; this dark, mysterious identity that I am almost forced to wear, in contrast to the secret times with myself where I admire myself in a pretty white-lace summer dress and dreaming about being in a distant land where no one is there to tell on me, or start yelling again about the hell-fires – to just get away from this dense web of my immigrant community where everybody is so effing interested in what I am doing, or almost waiting to catch me in situation that would spice up their life!
I get that Islam is about modesty and keeping private things private, but how will people ever know and learn and be OK with their sexuality if they don't talk? Just talking is such big issue, a girl is expected to be completely clueless about it till her wedding night. You have to just say the word sex and girls in Pakistan start giggling, blushing, put on this immensely scandalized expression, but yet are very, very interested. One girl gets to know something fresh from her newly married cousin or friend, and it will be the talk of the century till all the friends of the friends and the second and third and fourth cousins know about it. This clearly shows the lack of proper guidance and information available, but also how trying to keep something hidden is not stopping anybody from going ahead with their limited investigations. Why isn't it better to know the right thing from a credible source, instead of being freaked out all the time about will I get pregnant if I sit on this table? and having no one to answer, leading you to avoid sitting on any table at all times.
Even among married folk, it is such a pity of the kind of mindsets both a husband and wife have. The wife is too scared to being the one to lead, holds on to her personal desires, and basically acts like a miss-goody-2-shoes to avoid the husband thinking that she has any prior experience whatsoever. The husband, on the other hand, could be too scared to experiment something with this wife who has such apparently conservative values, that he does not want to put his guard or domination down. Isn't this a joke somewhere that once you've seen a man naked, you can't possibly take him serious anymore. LOL. This is the impact of the heavy interference of family in a married couples life in our culture. Because whatever you do, is a direct reflection of your family and upbringing, and you must die protecting your family's honor.
In very extreme cases such a relationship would lead the man to finding his desired level of pleasure elsewhere, and the woman ending up with a very dissatisfied sex life and living a marriage only for the well-being of (if any) children, or the respect of the family. In super extreme cases, the woman will also look for sexual release elsewhere. In the absolutely best of cases, they would talk.
Ladies. What (Muslim) men want as a wife is definitely someone who (in no particular order) will wear the persona of the world's most modest woman ever, one who will never negate him in public, will cook wonderful food for his friends, will be nice to his parents, will do as he says, will give advise only when he asks for it ... BUT also what he wants is someone who can turn the tables around when in their privacy. Islam is very clear and loud about a man's sexuality. Mut'ah marriages in history, his polygamous nature and acceptance of a sexual relationship with female slaves other than his wives, everything indicates that it's something quite important to him. It is important to us women as well, so how do you keep your game up, and the man interested? By not shying away from a little talk about each others' needs, likes and dislikes.
Gentlemen. Stop trying to make women believe you were sitting idle in your idle time. And stop expecting women to have been sitting idle in their idle time. By letting your guard down (bit by bit), you're only helping to improve your relationship. And if your woman makes a move, stop making foolish assumptions.
Art is sensitive to human nature. It is a visual detection of any micro-imbalance. To me, showing a burqa-clad woman doing it with a bearded man, or the woman just by herself is not controversial at all. It is only the affirmation of the fact that something is amiss. It may not be the best way to induce information in this closed society, because the creation of art is not always an angel-esque awareness-driven effort – it can be loud, at-your-face, distinctly-gripping, disgusting and very graphic as well – something that may not sit too well with some people. But it definitely is a very valid medium.
What makes Islamic erotica controversial is the presence of a female form. It is so often questioned as to why this constant objectification? Why isn't the male form used in a similar context. I can only just laugh about it because unless you're seriously deviated from human nature, you wouldn't be asking this question. LOL. What's even funnier though, is that in this genre, the nude form is absent; her privates are perfectly hidden - most of her is – and it's just the exaggerated pose that suggests anything sexual. To me, it's the perfect reflection of a woman as a sexual being that is cut off from the outer world with this thin layer of dark fabric. It's simply a reality that doesn't go down the throats of conservatives.
Islamic erotica is a result of closed up desires even in the most valid of relationships such as marriage. It should not be taken as controversial or dealt with aggressively, but as a means to fixing the existing imbalance. No one likes to talk about something that is running smoothly, we are all controversy-driven gossiping load of nutheads.
This could also be a reason why some Muslim women in Western cultures, who are more open and accepting of their sexuality, feel turned off by the idea of marrying a fellow Muslim man. The idea of going into a relationship where there are lots of expectations, mentally forced limitations, and a need of the loud showcasing of purity and chastity in absolute silence, can be very discomforting. And the idea of marrying a non-Muslim man, with whom they can fall in love, be romantic, not be shy of an enlightening talk, take an initiative, can be very liberating.
So relax. Have a Coca-Cola