WARNING: THIS POST IS MY WORD VOMIT AND TMI. But I have made a promise to myself that I will start writing more about my experiences so others can learn, laugh and grow from them. I’m explicit with my language in this post so if you aren’t comfortable with casual mention of genitalia you may want to skip this one.
My current job involves a training on comprehensive sexual education. Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a roundtable discussion that compared Abstinence Only Until Marriage Sex Ed to Comprehensive Sexual Education. It made me reflect on the sex ed experience I had as a Muslim American Pakistani girl growing up in California. It went a little something like this….
In my Islamic School the boys and girls were separated, we talked about the biology behind sex and reproduction and then were basically told it’s haram to have sex when you’re on your period…that’s all I can remember. I don’t think I had many questions about sex at that age but I did have a lot of questions about being on my period and what I can expect with regards to the changes in my body in the coming years. Of course I kept all those to myself because I was too shy to ask my teacher- a Pakistani aunty whose daughter was only a year younger than me. I didn’t understand anything about males going through puberty beyond the fact that they would all of sudden get tall and then their voices would get deep.
High school sex ed was a bit more comprehensive but still the only thing I really remember is a series of pictures of penises and what STIs looked like…not that I can even remember which one looked like what but yeah. I also got a bag of condoms but I never understood how they really worked because we never got a demonstration or if we did I may not have been paying attention because I was probably REALLY uncomfortable. I started formulating more questions in my mind at this point but of course, was never comfortable enough to ask anyone. I didn’t even know what half the terms used by my friends even meant- blowjob, orgasm, girls being wet, jacking off…I was a typical Muslim girl living in a bubble and I was quite comfortable there.
Fast forward to around the time I got engaged and I was STILL REALLY CLUELESS. I had no idea what I was supposed to do in bed, how I was supposed to talk to my fiance about physical intimacy, what the experience would be like, what were my options in terms of birth control….like nothing. Since none of my close friends who were married at the time were accessible and I wasn’t comfortable talking to my family about it, I basically wikipedia-ed a lot of things and talked to my younger sister out of all the people because she has non-muslim friends who were sexually active and was way more educated about sex in general (her sex ed was more comprehensive when she attended high school.
The funniest experience and also panic attack mode moment for me was when I tried wearing a tampon and was being guided by my sister’s friend through the bathroom door on how to wear it. I literally sat on the toilet for 15 minutes before giving up. I straight up couldn’t find my vagina or like I don’t know what but I was SO confused. I then proceeded to freak out realizing a penis was a lot bigger and if I couldn’t get a tampon in how would a penis fit?!
Even after I got married and was sexually active I still didn’t really know what was happening to me or my body or what certain things meant during sexual intercourse. My basic sexual vocabulary was so limited that I didn’t even know what to search in google when I had questions about what was happening. Thankfully I have a very open relationship with my partner where I can ask questions and not feel stupid and we also communicated extensively about our comfort levels and the pace we wanted to take our physical intimacy - consent y’all, just because you’re married doesn’t mean it’s free ticket…forcing your partner to engage in sexual activity without his/her consent is called marital rape. Make it a rule of some sort to ask permission before engaging with each other so you are always comfortable and feel safe with one another.
Okay bringing this conversation back to the start. I was SO happy when I got access to the comprehensive sexual education curriculum materials and studied all the information extensively. It still is quite biology based and doesn’t describe so much about what to expect from the experience of having sex but it did talk about consent, healthy relationships, proper condom usage/birth control, available clinics and all that good stuff. After the roundtable tonight I realized there might be SO many others like me out there who are CLUELESS about sex. I decided I wanted to make myself the vulnerable guinea pig for my family friends and friends who have questions but are too shy to ask. Not that I’m an expert OR a scholar on the subject in any way but I can at least give you a heads up on what to expect and share my experience (of course in a reasonable manner- can’t exactly share all the details of my sex life).
Another disclaimer- I’m not an expert on the Islamic perspective of sex in relationships but this article was really useful for me at least http://muslimmatters.org/2013/05/03/vignettes-on-female-sexuality/4/