Growing up in Mexico, immersed in a culture that debated “Western” values and was skeptical of its imports, I spent my early years in a society that taught me from the beginning that my sexuality was not mine, but someone else’s. Even when the institution of marriage started to crumble and common-law unions became more common, women’s sexuality was still viewed as taboo and their pleasure was considered unimportant. I actually recall my best friend’s grandma, in elementary school, telling us that the only women that enjoyed sex were prostitutes…
However, my own family was determined to raise me knowing that my pleasure was important, that my body was mine and that sex was meant to be enjoyable with a partner who loved me and respected me. The first time I was in a sex shop was with my mom, and I was about 16 years old. Despite what you may think, my mom was not encouraging me to run off and have sex. Instead, she was realistic. As I discussed in a post last May, my parents were teenaged parents. Thus, my mom was aware that nagging me about not becoming sexually active could backfire as it did in her case with her conservative family. In taking me to a sex shop, my mom aimed to tackle two issues: she wanted to teach me about safe sex and pleasure while getting rid of the curiosity and myths surrounding sex in my society.
While I was fortunate enough to have a very open family when it came to issues of sexuality and health, upon my conversion to Islam, I was back to square one in the sexual arena. Much of my community in northern Alberta was convinced that even discussing sex in front of girls would lead them to engage in pre- and extra-marital relationships. Women (married and unmarried) were shy to ask questions, let alone ask a male sheikh. I was surprised to find that girls my age held a lot of myths about sex. For instance, a few of them believed that all sexually transmitted diseases were transmitted by touching, that they could get pregnant through oral sex, and that sex was meant to be a painful experience. And I don’t blame them! These days many Muslim communities dissuade their members from being sex-friendly. The ironic part is that I personally always saw Islam as very progressive in matters of sex, pleasure and sexual health. Leaving aside the pre-marital sex question, I always felt a Muslim couple should have the opportunity to ask questions, to explore their sexuality and to have fun with it. Oops! Did I say fun!? Well, yes, and I mean it!