Good visuals excite me.
The beauty of nature mesmerizes me.
Memories of Pakistan nostalgia-te me.
Position of women worries me.
Chauvinists exasperate me.
Preachers of false dogmas enrage me.
Terrorism sickens me.
Extremists frustrate me.
Moral policing infuriates me.
The lost community baffles me.
Racism saddens me.
Political bastards need to get a life!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Islamo-Erotica, Female Sexuality and Closed Cultures

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


  1. This is a baseless article, totally reflecting the ideas of the writer. Religions never provide such deep analysis on sexual relationships among its followers; this is a very personal thing and those Muslim men, who express such conservativeness, are reflecting their own ideas not of their religion.

  2. Are you objecting that the subject of sexuality does not exist in Islam, or are you just ignoring the fact that it is "closed cultures" that I am really talking about here?
    Baseless it truly isn't, because this is a reality of several. You may not think or believe so, but then you make up that tiny 1% of the population that I am quite proud of.

    p.s. thank you for at least not posting anonymously, and not making guess that you're a man.

  3. AnonymousMay 14, 2010

    makes no reall sense. feelings of the writer are too noticeable on the wordings used overall. one has to be nuetral beinf writer on such kind of a topic.

  4. @Ali It's not a research article, it's a blog-piece - it is about me and my experiences. You need a coca-cola too! Relax. Then again, you're a man. Who am I kiddin'?
    Writing neutral about this topic. ha ha. Go ahead, tell the world. All this what I say, is a pathetic figment of my imagination and has no base in the real world!

  5. Hi I am a girl and I totally disagree with what you said.

    We have witnessed whats happening in the west when you educate kids about sex. Out of curiosity they want to experience it and then everything goes wrong...ok here we do not know about it when we are "too" young but when we get to know atlest we are mature enough to understand it.

    And about that art piece..its totally disgusting! Expressing yourself doesn't mean saying out everything loud! I undersatnd that we too are from entirely different backgrounds and we have our own ideas shaped according to our situations but you also need to undersatnd that you are a conservative yourself. Your blog presents one notion that you have "Whatever a common Muslim does or thinks is wrong and I need to change things..twist and turn them untill I fit into it!"

    Although I enjoyed reading you and I like people who have different ideas than me and who think are a rebel like me :)

  6. Hello @Mariya girl

    Welcome to my rebel land. If you've gone through the rest of my blog, you should be getting a gist of my rejection of extremism of BOTH worlds. I neither advocate the eastern culture, nor the western. both have issues. besides, i dont know what you consider mature, but i've seen college-going girls in pakistan hiding in corners and drawing willies to enlighten the less fortunate of what they look like. maybe you are pro-(female)children-scaring to have them freak out at something red. children realize their sexuality at a very young age, and believe it or not, they know what their hoo-hoos feel like. and to one day realize that you've somehow damaged it, and cant even talk to your mother about it becuz it is "shameful" .. is not a very delightful feeling.

    I am not asking for a full on Mr.Banana and Ms. Latex demonstration. Neither is that required. But mothers do need to make their daughters feel a little comfortable with talking, and explaining things. if we can teach girls that being alone with a boy is haram and God will punish you badly for it. we can also teach them things that will benefit them positively. we dont have to look at the world in black and whites. embrace the grays darling! they're sophisticated and charming :D

    my love to a rebel fellow who appreciates me rebelling :D

  7. Hi you can call me Mariya only :p

    Sorry this one is the first of your blogs that I came across so do not really know you well. Nice to know that you reject extremism wherever you find it. Just watch out you don't fall for it yourself.

    Your concerns are justified to an extent. But what you do not understand is there is a right time to do and know things and what I am getting from you is your supporting to speak out loud to everyone about everthing.

    I may not understand you and you may not understand me and I am perfectly ok with that. I am not a kind of person who wants the whole world think like her. I appreciate the diversity in thoughts. Be a rebel but not for the sake of being different.

    Stand by the right and endorse the truth. Do not consider yourself perfect and keep trying to be better.

    A quote that I follow and that is by me: Take over your emotions before they take over you.

    Cheers for diversity! :D

  8. To some extent, I agree with you. Awareness is necessary, though too much of it can be very harmful.

  9. @Mariya You know I went over my own article again to find some extremism in there :P ... to be honest, every word I write in there is an experience. Nothing is blown out of proportion. Rebel for the sake of being rebellious is downright lame, plus a rebel needs motivation, it doesn't just wake up one day.
    It's interesting what you said about speaking out loud cuz when you speak softly, no one listens to you, or they just can't hear you. When you start screaming to attain some acknowledgment, they start telling you quiet down. It's an apologist attitude. And it can get a bit annoying.
    I don't consider myself perfect and continue to search. But people's holier-than-thou attitude and constant knit-picking is also a major turn off. I do not endorse anything but the truth, and the search for it. I can NOT stand people who know what you're talking about, accept it, but rather stay quiet about it, and even worse, tell you to keep it low as well.
    There is too much horror in this world. Everyones' experiences may not be the same, but they do not invalidate the diverse experiences. What I went through, perhaps you can't imagine. What you speak of, perhaps I can't make sense of. But that's ok. I am loud only because I have faced the extreme - every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If nothing else, it's pure physics.

    @Komal Figuring out what is too much is complicated. It goes both ways. The problem is, right now we're saturated and over-flowing with strange religious dogmas that are mullah-spewed. And to kind of get even and catch-up, we need to speed up. Awareness is never too much. Though would you give me an example of how too much awareness can be harmful? Perhaps I am wrong.



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