Sunday, May 13, 2012

[uncensored]: Sexual Expectations

As salaam alaikum,

I tell you, this week, I have alternatively given up all hope of meeting someone I am willing to marry and been this close to resigning myself to a life of complete spinsterhood. I know God placed me here purposefully, and this time that we live in is a blessing and a test, but trying to live as a righteous Muslimah and be respected as a human being is hard in anyone's patriarchal society.

God created men with the base tendency to objectify women. I don't know why. It makes for a very painful existence, an existence where you are not only regarded as object but you are subject to whims. It makes you feel like a prisoner. I wish men could get past seeing pretty girl or covered girl or any other version of a woman I chose to be and get through to me, see my humanity, instead of classifying my sensibilities as female and no longer listening to me.

It all started when I rented a car earlier this week. The 1994 Dodge Caravan that we have at our house is about to be junked, and my father didn't want me driving it. I don't have a car in Michigan, and so while my parents are at work, I rent a car. All of the cars have an auxiliary port for your iPod or whatever device, but I decided to listen to the radio in the car. I was driving a white Chevy Aveo (cute little car!) and I found a preset station set that was interestingly all the "black" stations in the Detroit area. Mix 92.3, FM 98 WJLB, 105.9 Kiss (which used to be hip hop and R&B like WJLB), among others. So, I spent most of my time on Mix and Kiss, which plays a nice mix of newer R&B, 80s/90s (including my favorite, New Jack Swing!) and old-school soul. But when those stations went out, I went over to WJLB and another hip hop station.

I used to sneak and listen to WJLB and what was then 105.9 as a preteen. My parents didn't allow me. My mother once found a mix-tape that I had made from the radio, and tuned in just in time to hear Ginuwine's "Only When Ur Lonely." After that, she told me that I shouldn't listen to the radio, because the music "wasn't edifying." I had to look up what edifying meant, but I went right ahead and listened to the music anyway. Thus was my major act of rebellion during my entire adolescence...seriously! Anyway, the worst lyrics at the time were from the song, "My Body" by LSG (Levert, Sweat, Gill). And I quote:

"I wanna fill you up 'til your river flows all over me. I wanna feel your precious treasure wrapped around me, oh so tightly. In, out, wanna hear you shout..."

Yes. I've heard a lot of music now, but descriptions of sex acts...umm...usually a little less specific. Maybe not when describing fellatio, but...I don't know.

I feel like there were very specific songs that were more explicit when I was a kid. These are lyrics that I memorized at 12, and still remember to this day, despite not having listened to the song in that long.

My parents weren't kidding about it not being edifying, but they didn't hear the half of it...

So, I'm by no means a prude. I grew up with questionable lyrics describing sex. I think the difference was that, while there were some explicit songs...the songs weren't glorifying man whoredom.

"My Body" was probably, looking back on it, about a booty call relationship. Fine. Other songs from earlier in the day, like Silkk's "Freak Me," could have been a monagamous relationship.

"Let me lick you up and down 'til you say stop. Let me play with your body, baby, make you feel hot..."

I think that's what got me when I listened to the radio. One song after another about one night stands at best, quickies in the club at the worst. Almost every other song was some man raving over the sex he can have with his random, assorted women, how good they are at what they do, or what he looks for when he's looking for a woman to have sex with.

I realize it's the volume of these songs, and not even how explicit their lyrics are, that disturbed me.

It was sickening. Listening to those stations made me feel like, as a woman, my worth is only as good as the head I give, how tight I am or my sex position versatility. My figure is a given.

Like, sorry to be crude, but seriously. I was like, what the hell?

After I crashed Vergil in 2003, I stopped listening so much to the radio...because I didn't have a car. I see that not only was I not missing anything, but I got to avoid the degradation of my soul while listening to music that, if I were a young girl now, would have convinced me that I would never be enough for a man.

I mean, not that the music in my day was pure. Hahaha, you've seen the lyrics. It wasn't. And looking back and reflecting on those lyrics, I realized that part of my sexuality was shaped by those songs. Definitely part of my expectations for sex and relationships was formed by those songs. And knowing that I was a "good girl," I always felt a bit inadequate. Why would a man stop at me, the girl waiting until marriage, if he could sleep with someone else? How could I make myself look more sexually experienced than I actually was?

And now, at 27, listening to music like that and being in the presence of men who have serial one night stands with women they meet on the internet, and these men are to be my future colleagues in really makes me want to give up.

I know, as a Muslim, that marrying is of more value than celibacy, but I was this close to saying, eff this, I'm just going to focus on my career and give up this whole wife/mother bit once and for all. I'm just not convinced of the quality of young men that our society has produced. It's not only that I'm afraid of the skewed gender ideas that any given man that I end up with will harbor, but I'm not sure how much I want to subject myself to the serial objectification that has been my dating experience thus far.

And things on the halal front are not much better. Finding a compatible Muslim suitor is really hard.

Besides, I keep reading and hearing of horror stories of Muslim men and women who marry precipitously whose marriages end up in abuse, if not ruin. I'm not sure that there's enough of us Muslims to normalize matrimonial services, and I'm not sure if there are enough Muslim men who will love me the way I want to be loved to go around.

God did not create me, as a woman, to be subject to men, but somehow, I keep finding myself there. And not just with Muslim men, but all men. It's not the men's that I recognize what is going on, the onus is on me to rectify the situation, and not keep feeding into this destructive system that renders both parties injured and leads to dysfunction in our relating to each otherr.

I alternatively feel like giving up on avoiding zina and recognizing that, in this secular man's world, I have to have sex to progress in most relationships. The rest of the time, I feel like giving up on relationships all together and trying to reclaim the asexual mindset I once knew. I know that neither of these are the answer, but I'm just so frustrated sometimes that I want to give up in one direction or the other.

And hearing music where a woman's worth is measured by the subjective quality of her sex is more and more discouraging. Men my age, Muslim and non-Muslim, listen to this music. They may not embody it, but they take it into their bodies, and it cannot help their image of women.

I look to God for permission to give up, to dedicate my life to absolute celibacy. As my father would say, "God doesn't want that." I don't know what God wants for me at this point. I could die old or young. Maybe I haven't met anyone because I'm going to die young, so I won't leave children and a husband behind. I don't know.

I just...if I do ever end up with a man, I want to be treated like a human being. Not an ass, a set of thighs, breasts, a vagina, a womb, a mouth, a body, a collection of orifices, a receptacle of semen, a source of singular pleasures, a piece, or any other object or conglomeration of objects. No less than I see men as their parts or any sum of them.

But experience tells me that maybe this is impossible?


  1. I have to have sex to progress in most relationships.

    I personally don't think anyone ever has to sex to progress a relationship. Especially when they don't want to/are not interested in having sex.

    It is a pity that most people seem to make sex a requirement for a relationship.

    1. Yes. Hehe, I have never met a man who shares my opinion...

      I'm also put off that the fact that I want to wait to have sex apparently puts me in a different sexual class, one of women who will not, even after marriage, perform certain sexual acts...some that I may be interested in, because of this age-old dichotomy of good girl vs bad's all tiring. Not having sex before marriage actually says nothing about my sex drive...

      I'm tired of men trying to act like sex therapists and convince me I should have sex, often to their own gain.

    2. I'm tired of men trying to act like sex therapists and convince me I should have sex, often to their own gain.

      Dear, my only advice to you when it comes to men that try to "convince" or pressure you into having sex for their own gain is dump their asses ASAP and head for the hills.

      I respect you for standing your ground when it comes to this. I wish you all the best in finding someone you're compatible with. It is certainly not easy, I know even though I'm not looking for any sort of relationship right now.

  2. Can so relate!

    But there are people who are willing to respect that... it's just that the guys who sex only, a lot times are not into you for the purposes of marriage anyway... but you know the drill...

    erase, replace and embrace new face... God help us all :0

    1. There are men who are willing to respect that, yes. I'm just disappointed to find so many men just feel like it's their right if they relate to you to have sex with you, like anything else is a waste of their time...even ones who have the "intention" of marrying you feel entitled.

      It's really not only the guys who want sex only that either demand it or expect it, and I'm just tired.

    2. Hello,

      I'm also a med student (congrats on the recent graduation), and found your blog via Love Insha'Allah, which I'm currently reading. Firstly, I loved your story, which I found very relatable to my own life, and secondly, I love your blog - this entry in particular. I agree with everything you assert in this post, masha'Allah. Thanks for being so candid - it makes the rest of us who have standards and a strong sense of self that we refuse to compromise feel less alone.

      Best of luck in residency!

    3. Salaam, sis!

      I'm glad you liked this entry and my story in the anthology. :) And thanks for the congratulations. It'll feel surreal when you graduate...seems so far away at the beginning!

      People like you help keep me on the straight and narrow and not compromise my standards for the sake of those who feign respect for me. Not feeling so alone is awesome! Time has also taught me some of these things. Insha'Allah we'll pass this test and end up with some of the few good ones that are out there. ;)

      Good luck with the rest of medical school! :)