Take Back Islam: Sexual Rights of Women Should Not Be a Secret

Take Back Islam: Sexual Rights of Women Should Not Be a Secret

Written by Theresa Corbin

Take-Back-IslamI recently wrote an article for aquila-style about the sexual rights of the Muslimah.

(The first few paragraphs are in a block quote below)
 I wrote this article in reaction to what I found to be lacking in Islamic literature. As the article below recounts, literature enumerating the woman’s rights in a marriage and specifically regarding sex is hard to find.
But Allah did not forget about the female when it comes to giving her sexual rights, it is just that perhaps the scholars or the authors of Islamic literature that is readily available think it is not good for mass consumption??? I don’t know why a woman’s sexual rights within a marriage is kept under wraps while everyone can recount hadith specifying a man’s sexual rights in a marriage, I can only guess why this is. 
 

If we are shy to talk about such things, we need to think about the greater implications.

Sisters, if we don’t know our rights in regards to intercourse (And I am not talking about the 18th century word for conversation ;)) then how will we be able to ask for them? How will we be able to go about being married and not feeling oppressed? Brothers, if you hide your head in the sand about your wive’s sexual rights, how will you know if you are failing in your duties?
Imagine being in a marriage and a sexual relationship in which your partner continues to cause you pain and leaves the act before you have achieved pleasure (Not that this is always the case). And imagine living like this for years because neither you nor your partner understand what is due to you.
 

If you look at it from male perspective it is fair to say that this is a form of oppression.

Then why don’t we look at it the same way for women? Is it because we think of women as a giver of pleasure and not a receiver? This is a narcissistic approach to love and intimacy. Oxymoron? Yup!

… 

Recently, I was walking through an Islamic bookstore and I came across an entire aisle of books with titles that enumerated the ways a woman is to be a good wife and all the rights her husband has over her.

Out of curiosity, I began looking for the section on a wife’s right over her husband. I knew it had to be somewhere. It was neither next to the section on women being dutiful wives, nor was it in the section about all the ways to go about getting married … it was nowhere.

To balance out all the books about being good wives was just one book entitled Winning the Heart of Your Wife, half of its 64 pages being a note from the publisher. While this book offered some good advice, it also left a lot to be desired …

Read the rest on Aquila Style. Then come back and read on.

If we look to the example of the Prophet (PBUH), we will find that he was gentle and playful with his wives. He offered them foreplay and never left them wanting.

Many of us know very little about the Islamic sexual rights of a woman and even fewer of us understand the anatomy and the reasons behind these rights.

So let me tell you how Allah has created the female (many sisters might not even know this about themselves).

So much thought and “honor” is put into the hymen. When very few people actually know anything at all about this part of the female anatomy. And if we have heard anything about it, it is only in terms of how it should “broken” (sexual violence much?). The hymen is not a layer of skin that covers the female sex organ that needs to be broken. It is layer of skin that surrounds the vagina, it stretches during foreplay and it even heals itself when torn.

It’s true that women may experience pain or bleeding the first time they have sex, but it’s not because of their hymens; more likely, they began having intercourse without proper foreplay to lubricate the vagina. And as it turns out, hymens tell you nothing about a woman’s sexual history. Not every woman is born with a hymen, and the shape and size of a hymen differs dramatically from woman to woman. Since the hymen doesn’t appear to serve any purpose, it may very well be vestigial. –howstuffworks.com

Hence the importance of foreplay. Bleeding caused by sexual intercourse does not always happen when the woman is a virgin. And conversely it can happen when a women isn’t a virgin. Bleeding during intercourse happens when the male has not provided enough foreplay and causes tearing and pain.

It is almost comical to think that an entire custom of proving virginity with bloody bed sheets is really just built around men being bad at sex. That is, it would be comical if it weren’t a great source of pain.

Not only is foreplay an Islamic duty and a deterrent to causing pain, it is also a path to mutually pleasurable intercourse.

While it is debated whether the husband is obligated to bring his wife to orgasm, the hadith I mentioned in the Aquila-Style article gives us a guideline. Imam Malik recounts that a man should not interrupt sexual relations with his wife until she is fulfilled, unless she has given her permission. This tells us that it is not for the man to decide when sex is finished. He must wait for her as best as he can (circumcision of the male helps prolong the sex act). Whether the wife reaches orgasm (nearly impossible if she has suffered female circumcision, but that is for another post) or is she is just done with the experience, it is up to the wife to say when the intimacy is over. 

If a woman is promised that the sexual experience will be enjoyable and that she is in control of when it is over (her Islamic rights), she will be more inclined to want to participate. If husbands follow Islamic guidelines, they won’t be begging or manipulated their wife with a hadith of angles cursing them. Such manipulation is oppression when the husband demands his rights but is not fulfilling his rights to her. Both parties need to be sexually fulfilled.

Why can’t we be frank and about sexual rights of women within a marriage?

Why isn’t there more literature explaining what is due to the women in her marriage bed? It is so important to a happy and fulfilling marriage, a happy family and therefore a happy society that it seems criminal to not make the masses aware of these facts.

#TakeBackIslam

Read more about our Take Back Islam effort: hereherehere, and here

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Polygamy Explained, Part I: A Societal Need?

Written by Gracie Lawrence

Since the days that exotic tales of everyday wealthy Ottoman life began to waft onto European shores, wondering Western romantic minds have been painting up portraits of what Eastern harrams (pronounced hair-ums in some southern cities) must have looked like. Ladies lavishly washing, beautifying themselves and their long manes, and perhaps even making exquisitely succulent turkey dinners … together … just for you.

Polygamy Part 1

Equally ridiculous is how having 4 sets of in-laws, the various responsibilities of those women and resulting amount of children, and how alllll that would affect Sunday night football never quite occurs to many men.

I thought it would be interesting to talk about why anyone might want to be in a polygamous marriage in the first place (PART 1) and no, not from a male point of view … boring! Secondly, what responsibilities that would entail for a man (PART 2).

Wait, whaatt? Muslim men have duties to their wife/wives?  YUP!

Polygamy (or more specifically, Polygyny- in which a man has more than one wife) can be a difficult thing for the Western mind to imagine as anything other than an oppressive venture.

However, the disturbing–to-some fact remains that a large part of the world does practice polygamy and has practiced it for thousands of whyyourarelyseeafemalypolygamist[1]years (conjuring up stories of King Solomon here).

According to the Ethnographic Atlas, of 1,231 societies noted, only 186 were monogamous; 453 had occasional polygyny; 588 had more frequent polygyny; and 4 had polyandry (in which a woman has more than one husband- Part 3, maybe?).

However, even in countries where polygyny is practiced only 16-30% of people actually utilize it. Therefore, clearly even in polygyny friendly societies, this form of marriage is not dominant.

Moreover, there are various kinds, female choice polygyny systems seen among South American natives (see this one about a Bolivian tribe) are going to be different than a male coercion model.

There are many reasons why marriages may become polygamous. But I think it first appropriate to bring forth the appropriate backdrop.

Lifting the Western goggles

Picture it … the Earth, the date- today.

Even in this century, the majority of the world does not have the economic system or wealth of modern post- industrialized nations. 

Taking into consideration that most of human civilization has been overrun with serious poverty, men and women dying from preventable diseases, and women dying due to childbirth related complications, (Maternal Deaths Sub-Saharan Africa) life and social taboos in many places were and still are vastly different from the Western context.

Now that we have taken our Western goggles off

Let’s have a look around and think of just some examples where polygyny might occur and work … without being oppressive to women.

1. Poverty

You’re a poor girl whose father and only bread winner of the family just passed away. Unfortunately for you women don’t have the option of earning wages. And you really don’t like being poor. While there are plenty of single, young goat-herding men around- they are also poor and therefore not very interesting to you.

There is, however, an older, charming a la’ Sean Connery merchant who is actually very well off.  He already has two wives, but have you seen their homes? And you would be the youngest and favorite wife, right?

2. War

You’re a poor girl who lives in a village that has just been annihilated by a fairly rich country. Most of the men have been slaughtered, including your father the protector and only bread winner of the family.

You are stuck with the few males who were too old to be considered a threat to invaders. They all have at least one wife already. But you really want some babies, a few meals a day, and some protection in your now lawless area. Polygyny is a better than your only other option- prostitution (which sky-rockets in conflict zones).

3. You’re tired

You are a married woman with a few kids, and you have been married to your husband for a while now. He’s a nice guy- you love him- you would never think of leaving him or separating him from the kids. But the man has the sexual appetite that can be compared to a pack of starved wildebeests … every … single … night.

You on the other hand are a once a week kind of girl. You tell him he either needs a new hobby or a new wife- not that he can’t just overcome his urge, but you’re pretty practical at this point in your life–why not?

I could go on and on with these circumstances and the driving factors for women to want polygyny (your parents don’t even have to die in these scenarios and the last one isn’t even poverty dependent). 

 

Even Tim Harford at Slate recognizes the benefits of such a system in his article hilariously entitled I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do: The Economic Case for Polygamy

This probably all sounds very foreign to you, and of course it is! (Except for the marrying for money part because we all know of some gold digger who did that.) It is not part of our culture to have a lot of these problems, but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t been an issue or are still occurring in many parts of the world RIGHT NOW.

What Islam does is regulate these unions so that as few people get hurt as possible (no abusing women, using men purely as sperm donors, the rights of children, etc.).

And in a species such as ours where almost every characteristic (including sexual appetite) can be spread over such a vast spectrum of varying degrees of intensity- I believe such flexibility in law (religious or otherwise) actually strengthens societies.

 

Part Two here

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