“It’s worse for a woman to commit adultery, because women are supposed to be pure.”
“A girl’s reputation is more delicate so she has to make more careful choices.”
Watch Umm Reem’s (Saba Syed) Radtalk.
Comments like these only highlight double standards among Muslims. To have a higher expectation of chastity from girls, especially practicing Muslim girls, compared to boys has become so normal that girls are brainwashed from a very early age with ideas like:
“Girls are supposed to have a higher control against their desires for the opposite gender.”
“Good girls shouldn’t get sexual thoughts.”
“If a girl is pure, her thoughts and emotions would be pure too.”
But what happens when a girl’s hormones kick in and she develops carnal desires?
The mind and body contradict. The body responds to the natural desires and the mind rejects these desires, rather recalls the fallacious cultural beliefs that she was raised with. This causes a serious contradiction within a person, making her feel low about herself. Due to the lack of communication within the family and lack of female mentorship in our communities, she is left misguided. The internal contradiction between body and mind becomes so intense that it can, and has, caused long term emotional and personality damage in many girls. [This is one of the leading causes among many married Muslim women for lack of interest in intimacy—discussed in detail in an upcoming article in near future inshaAllah].
Last year, after my letter to the youth was published on MM, a girl got in touch with me complaining about the wrong advice I had offered her years ago about female sexuality, and how it had caused a lot of serious issues in her life.
Importance of Mentorship
I’d mentored her when she was in college. During that time, we had discussions over gender interaction and female sexuality. At that time, inexperienced and still young myself, I hadn’t fully overcome the erroneous concepts widespread within Muslim communities, and believed in the same ideas that “good girls are averse to sexual desires.”
I failed to offer her the right advice. She needed to hear that her desires were normal, align with her female sexuality and then she should have been given the remedies on how to control her desires, but instead I failed to recognize the normality of her sexual desires.
To be told that women normally don’t have sexual feelings until after they get emotionally attached to a guy or until after they get married, to be told that men are sexual and that women are not, to be told that good girls don’t think of sex before marriage, are all erroneous ideas that damage female sexuality.
I wasn’t the only one who offered her the wrong advice, unfortunately, even the people of knowledge she talked to failed to recognize the “female struggles with their sexual desires”.
I can’t undo the damage I’ve caused her or other girls in the past, but I can try my best to not repeat the same mistake and spread as much awareness on this issue as I can, bi idhniAllah.
[Ed. Note] Please join us for a Google Hangout on Intimacy Matters- March 1st, 2014 11-12 a.m. EST