When I converted to Islam, before Love Inshallah (which Merium reviewed last year) and Sex and the Citadel, I was immersed in a religious culture that had an ambivalent relationship with sex and sexuality. While the women in my community occasionally discussed matters of “lawful” vs. “prohibited” when it came to sex, they were also making use of Alberta’s Bill 44 to take their daughters out of sexual education classes, which some of them considered immoral and dangerous.
As a teenager, I received intense sexual education because my parents had been teenaged parents. However, this was not the norm in my culture. In Mexico, and many Latin American countries, sex is taboo. While dating is common, talking about sex is considered shameful and let alone discussing women’s pleasure and women’s ownership of their bodies. By the time I was a teenager, unplanned parenthood was at its peak, sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) were running wild and the boundaries of sexual abuse and harassment were quite blurry. My country had entered a historical time where sexual liberation was preached by many, but it did not come with access to education. In other words, sex was everywhere, from advertisements to movies, sex shops started opening up and contraceptives became legal, but only a few knew how to use condoms or what an IUD was. It’s likely that fewer still knew how to recognize sexual harassment and abuse, and just a very limited number of them would know what to do in such a case.