The prying eyes. The judgmental stares. The scandalous whispers. All of which can be found in our bias-ridden society who is fooled into believing that morality is absolute and that everyday is a crusade against evil. Women and men both get it pretty bad based solely on their genders, although some may argue that one gets it worse than the other, the degree of discrimination on either side can vary throughout various cultures. Persistent men who often end up in the reject bin are easily called creeps. There is hardly a female equivalent for that term. On the other side of the spectrum, women who openly have flings are sluts and men who do the same are studs. Now I’ve been quite intrigued by these complex social problems, but on with my rant.
I want to talk about having to act prudish. Why am I complaining about a virtue? Let me clarify. Earlier today I found myself in a position in which I stopped to reflect about gender roles in society and my humble place in the big bad sea. On a post in a group I patronize Malaysian Atheists, Freethinkers, Agnostics and their friends (MAFA in short), someone asked, ‘What would you do if it was really the end of the world?’ My instant reaction was to giggle at it and type the first thing that sprung to mind – and the most honest answer – was sex. Out of all the other remarks I could have thought of (and maybe even spontaneously create the bucket list I’ve always wanted) I chose to let the most base activity leap forward to the front of my mind. After the self-induced amusement subsided I started to type. So instead of writing ‘I want to have raw sex’, I ended up with something really awful like ‘I want cherry cream cheese pie (I know it looks awful. I heaped too many words onto the tray. Don’t judge my linguistic inferiority)
So, why did I choose the less frank (and terribly watered down) version? It’s because of the nature of our society. We make split-second judgement calls, whether called for or not. The former could earn me a derogative label of ‘shameless’, ‘ill-mannered’, ‘sleazy’ and the works. Of course to give my friends some credit, they would just shrug it off as a silly remark, if not jump on the jollywagon with me. That’s not the point though. Females are charged with much more degree of sin than men in this respect. I want to address the elusive female sexual frustration.
Yes, females can feel sexually frustrated too!Thanks to the surge in trend of clubs like the Obedient Wives Club (OWC) (who has a pretty large following within the Muslim community) female pleasure continues to be overlooked by the masses, especially in more conservative countries like Malaysia. In the medical literature of the 19th century, female hysteria was widely discussed as a medical condition only displayed by – you guessed it – women. Its symptoms were terribly similar to PMS-
faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and “a tendency to cause trouble”
It seems all good and dandy until you learn what the cure for this diagnosis was: Hysterical paroxym. Doesn’t ring a bell? How about orgasm? The cure was a sort of pelvic massage which was essentially the manual stimulation of genitalia with the help of tools. These tools led to the conception of the electrical vibrator, an ingenious home appliance. It was one of the most popular inventions of its time, arriving at doorsteps 9 years before the electrical vacuum cleaner and 10 years before the electrical iron. Of course this was before they appeared in pornos in the 1920s, in the greasy hands of fake medical professionals.
While all of this seems like a fictional story straight from Cracked.com, it is absolutely true and its truth raises a startling question. Did the wives get any sexual pleasure from their husbands? It is obvious that if the cure could be administered at home for free, they would have no need for such contraptions. It could be argued that the women nowadays do it too, including many liberals who are open with their sexuality. However it is a sobering thought that in the past, marriage was seen to be ‘transferring the ownership of an asset’. The women who visited the doctor were clearly clueless as to what was wrong with their bodies. They didn’t have sex-ed in the past, just a lot of suppressed giggles in the pantry. Unfortunately this culture is still prevalent in the 21st century. We ignore the importance of discovering our sexuality like these sex-starved societies in the past and we take it for granted.
It’s as if women needed permission to pleasure themselves. Guess what? There are those who still do.
My favourite intelligent, piping-hot sex-ed private tutor is Laci Green. Her previous YouTube channel used to focus on atheism but progressed towards sex education. She then charged full-on against sexual ignorance with her very own website and activism. This is one of her latest videos in which she talks about slut-shaming and gets us to question the judgments we impose on people. Is it really fair that we decide a person’s worth according to how many people she dates/sleeps with? Laci Green is spot on (and so hot) on the topic of slut-shaming and doesn’t forget to discuss promiscuity and bad sex decisions like she always does, in exasperation.
Society’s expectations on women to be frigid cows until marriage? No. Forever? Close. I’m not just talking about women who have had multiple partners. Here is a wonderful definition from a very educational post on skewed societal perception of sexuality and its implications.
Slut-shaming, also known as slut-bashing, is the idea of shaming and/or attacking a woman or a girl for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings. Furthermore, it’s “about the implication that if a woman has sex that traditional society disapproves of, she should feel guilty and inferior” (Alon Levy, Slut Shaming). It is damaging not only to the girls and women targeted, but to women in general an society as a whole. It should be noted that slut-shaming can occur even if the term “slut” itself is not used.
Finally, I now have settled into my point.
Women have sexual desires like men too. I don’t have to go into any details. It’s so matter-of-fact, yet even some WOMEN would be appalled at such a statement. These people probably haven’t tried pleasuring themselves before, because gurrrrl, you need to get some. Religion has helped to perpetuate the notion of the objective morality of sexuality, what is considered right and wrong in black and white terms. Married, heterosexual sex for procreation is where the fun’s at – not forgetting the religious effigy beside the bed. Of course most moderates obviously don’t do it for procreation (or at least unintentionally – ‘whoops!’) and some make a generous attempt at excusing homosexuals, but when it comes to other sexual choices, they flare up like a self-appointed Imam.
This is why I was reluctant to say that I wanted to have sex before the world ended. I realize that this is conservative Malaysia and to accept the notion of being open about one’s sexuality is far-off. This is one of the reasons we are so reluctant about sex ed, because we glorify the modest a little too much, we forget our own personal needs and desires.
What I can do to help reduce slut-shaming is to recommend you girls out there is to explore your bodies. It does not have to be in a sexual way. Realize your capabilities as a woman and read up about your reproductive health. Reproductive anatomy in Form 3 classes will not be sufficient. Love your body and fend off all VERBAL and PHYSICAL attacks towards it. Watch Laci Green. If you disagree with her views, talk about it with someone. Find dissenting views because you don’t want to preach to the choir and figure out for yourself what is a good justification and what is a bad one.
TALK about sex, with your parents, your friends. READ about sex. It is more relevant in your life than you think. Don’t let men make all the decisions for you. The instant you ignore your responsibility towards your own reprodutive health, you can be taken advantage of. Whatever your sexual choices, be safe. Have self-respect by loving yourself and give respect to others where it is due; take away respect when it is NECESSARY. Try not to call people sluts for being open about their sex lives. Those who incessantly post sexual material on their Facebook news feeds are probably just craving for attention, so apply judgement where it is due.
Most importantly: Love, love, love, yourself, despite all the shit in female magazines and MTV.
The discourse on sex is sorely needed in Malaysia and I do not intend to stand back and let it be.