ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Muslim Feminist Looks at Sex

Women in India and in most countries of the global South need to confront and reject societal silences about sexual pleasure if they hope to denounce shame and sex negativity. 


My return from the United Kingdom to India left me somewhat disoriented. Having juggled thesis submission, moving in and out, travelling and saying goodbyes was overwhelming in itself; to have returned to several close friends already married-off and well beyond physical proximity to others in the process of being married and preoccupied with understanding the in-laws’ power dynamics to distancing themselves from lovers of the past due to religious/sectarian differences, left me slightly incapable of reflecting, weighing up or evaluating. Strong, independent women in India are emotional wrecks, and understandably so, thanks to chauvinism woven through family ethos and social values and propagated through stereotypical concepts of the “sacrificing and compromising Indian daughter/wife.”

The one topic which remained largely untouched in all these lengthy emotional conversations was that of sex. As a Muslim girl, having been raised between Iran and the small town of Aligarh in India, while it was quite common among friends to pass light teasing remarks about sex, usually, any serious discussion on the topic referred to “sex” in the third person. Therefore, while in school and college, we grew up listening to narratives about how a certain someone fainted when she saw her husband naked, how some girl had to be rushed to the hospital on her first night or how a distant friend’s distant relative would rather hold hands with her husband than have sex.

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