Channel: Haleh Banani
Series: Haleh Banani - Intimacy Matters
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hamdulillah Al Hamdulillah for sisters like you, but I don't want anybody to get the impression that cultural beliefs are just limited to the east. There are many European cultural beliefs and paradigms that we have absorbed, causing the same kind of damage. So could you speak about this in detail? What is the androcentric model of sexuality and how does it not adequately represent the experience of women
androcentric concepts of sex and failure to recognize female sexual desires and specifically female climax was quite common in Europe, and then in the United States. And it included beliefs like intercourse is pleasurable for men, and merely a duty incumbent upon woman,
or good woman with noble character don't ask for intimacy, they don't desire intimacy.
So much so that only prostitutes actually enjoy intimacy, and especially woman a belief like women are incapable of reaching climax.
these fallacious ideas were quite rampant up until 1950s.
Unfortunately, I don't have enough time to elaborate on all the misconceptions. But there is an excellent article in New York Times by Rachel Maine, from john hopkins university, it's titled The job nobody wanted. I highly recommend all the listeners who are listening right now and who are going to listen in the future to please Google it and go over it and get an idea about the European androcentric concepts of female sexuality. Basically, it discusses how Western society was so androcentric that the ability of woman reaching climax was termed hysteria, as it was considered a disease. hysteria literally means a disease of womb, from the time of
Hippocrates, the Greek physician, and only in 1952, American Psychiatric Association dropped this term and acknowledged the desire and the ability of female reaching climax as a normal function of woman's sexuality. So Pamela, that article was absolutely astonishing for the medical practices that we're carrying on and, and we come in and we absorb this when we view media and all of that and, and shows and it really showed me how the female experience was so limited, it really makes you want to reread the classics, you know, so Hannah law and see that from a feminine, you know, female lens. Holly, in your view, like how, how are these type of experience like in your personal experience,
professional experience? What type of damage Have you noticed in a marriage because of these androcentric?
Well, what I've seen is that many, many sisters start feeling that there's something wrong with them for wanting physical intimacy. I remember actually a convert sister and a halaqa, approaching a female instructor about wanting to get intimate, intimate more than her husband. And she was completely shamed about it, the sister poor thing just turned beet red. And because the instructor was so appalled at her question, so sometimes there's this there's this tremendous guilt and shame associated to wanting physical intimacy. And this guilt, what it does is that it eventually erodes at the woman's self esteem. Another way that it damages marriages is that because she's feeling
guilty about having these desires, it prevents her from initiating physical intimacy. They don't approach their husbands, they don't ask for what they want. And they are so shy to express their desires. And remember that what we're saying about the top needs of men, one of them one of the top five needs of men was initiation. So this actually starts affecting the brothers the husbands because they are they want the wife to initiate she's feeling all guilty and shameful about it. So she stops that so it actually affects both their level of physical satisfaction. See, I hear many women have when they talk about it being an obligation like a duty like a chore, it's almost like a
to do list you know, okay, I need to get that done as well.
What happens when women start seeing physical intimacy just
As a duty,
when talking about duty of a wife, we really need to first discuss the psychology behind obligation versus desire. When you feel you should do something out of obligation, you either won't do it. Or if you do it, you will not be completely present or responsive during the act. So there's this feeling of obligation, I should do this. And there is you're basically going through the motions without any form of you're not really there mentally or emotionally. And when you desire something, you want it and it's not an obligation, then what happens is that you will be engaged and you will take part in it wholeheartedly.
sound like it's almost how we think of you know, religious obligations, like Salah, you know, you do it out of when you do it out of a sense of obligation,
then it's not as fulfilling and but when you do it with cashew and wanting it so. So when we're enjoying Salah, we increase the amount and the quality of our Salah too. So it's not just going through the motions with so how would you assign this handling when you're talking? That was something that but you know, I was thinking about? What would you say are pointers and having a quality, physical relationship? Well, first of all, couples need to understand that intimacy needs to be enjoyable for both of them. I mean, it seems like common sense. But a lot of times we lose sight of let's say the woman's physical enjoyment and pleasure, if both husband and wife enjoy it,
then they're a lot more likely to engage in it. But if it turns out that the physical intimacy starts being frustrating, if it's uneventful or worse, painful for women, then they will avoid it at all costs. And we need to start looking at, you know, at a healthy relationship, when you are in a healthy relationship, you will not demand intimacy of your wives, there's no demanding, they don't, you can't threaten your wife that if you are not with me, the angels will curse you throughout the night. In a healthy relationship, the man will romance his wife and make her feel feel attractive. And she will be a willing and happy participant. And also woman in a fulfilling marriage are mindful
during the act. It's this idea, since there is a friendship since there's communication, since there's no power struggle, you find that the woman will be more mindful will be in the present and the here and now. And so they will be there and mentally, emotionally and physically. And they will not be reflecting on their to do list. So also, something else that I really want to address because I know it's common amongst all cultures is that even though it is common for women to to fake their climax, it's not encouraged for a healthy physical relationship. And let me tell you why. First of all, you're giving the wrong message to your husband, he will not know what exactly will fulfill you
you are you're confusing him. And as Subbu was saying about truthfulness is such a it's so important in our speech, but it's also important in our actions. So let's be truthful with one another, let's have this open dialogue and an appeal to one another, to have this this fulfilling relationship.
So how do you think so overall, these androcentric paradigms are harmful islamically and have affected marriage.
And, you know, there are different paradigms to this. So let me address this in detail if you allow me to.
On one side, we have these woman who were raised with these ideas, and actually programmed their minds that as Holly was saying that you know, you can program your minds in different ways. So with these fallacious cultural beliefs, these these faulty cultural beliefs, they have programmed their minds to believe that they are not supposed to have sexual desires or enjoy intimacy. So they end up dealing with intimacy within a version so to speak, they don't anticipate they don't participate, they don't even dress up for their husbands. And you will be surprised that in some culture, it is in fact considered a resume saying in Arabic you know shameful to dress up for the husband. And
believe, you know, wearing laundry is a coupon into prostitution. So obviously with these people
Have mindsets and attitude, intimacy becomes a source of frustration in the marriage.
On the other side, there are those who those females who were not necessarily raised with these beliefs, or they over overcame these beliefs, but, but people around them
still have those beliefs, those erroneous beliefs. So, these ideas are always thrown at their faces, making them feel ashamed or too masculine for having a higher sex drive, or even in normal desire for intimacy. Now, we have to understand that these androcentric believes that intimacy is pleasurable for men, and a duty for woman is not has nothing to do with Islam. Because Islam does not ordain and act enjoyable for one spouse and not for the other.
In Islam, the act of intimacy is pleasurable for men and pleasurable for a woman, it's a duty for a wife, as much as it is a duty of a husband.
Our Muslim Brothers on the other hand, knowing that it is their right and having the need for intimacy become overly demanding sometimes, and, and, you know, sometimes unjust to their wives, because they feel it's the wife's duty to comply, and it's their right to seek pleasure. So there obviously, is an imbalance caused by these faulty cultural beliefs, which are, which are destroying our Muslim households.
Over here, you know, I'm gonna take a little bit of more time from you. And I'm just going to mention something it's it's interesting
that there are sisters,
who didn't grow up with these fallacious beliefs. Or they were, as I said, able to correct their perception about sexuality, but their husbands didn't, or their husbands had these androcentric ideas that good wives don't ask for intimacy, or climax is only a men's need, not a woman's. So the husband has these misconception, and in that relationship, wife really suffers. Because, again, not much has been said about woman's sexual sexual needs, not emotional sexual needs, there is not much recognition, there's hardly any acknowledgement. And also because women are naturally shy, so they feel hesitant in approaching a male share for the specific details. So in the process, it is assumed
that such issues don't even exist among women, because they hardly ever complain about it. Or should I say they never complain about it? See,
we have a question from the audience, which I think comes into play right over here. So there's a brother who's asked that this is a top of decision discussion in women and feminine studies for a while I'm 23 years old, and none of these problems are foreign to me, why has it taken so long for the Muslim community, foreign or American to begin talking about this issue, and I just wanted to address that right now, while you're speaking about this. And I feel, then you guys can chime in, if you feel like, and I feel, the reason why it's taken so long for our communities to talk about is because of this HIA. And we have this concept of modesty. And also, we have been, I think,
broken from our tradition, when a lot of us have don't read Arabic don't write, you know, understand Arabic. So we are not given we've given translations of books. And we're not given direct sources where we can actually read texts from or from times off the, you know, far back.
And those texts were very explicit about these topics and happen. And a lot of times, there's a, I feel like there's not a direct connection between the shield and the women in the, you know, in the congregation, sometimes in several parts of our communities. And sometimes I also feel that there's also this
because there's all of the things that we just explained, the androcentric views, the shaming, the guilt, the dirtiness, these are all things that make us hesitate about talking about this topic. Would you guys agree with me on this? Absolutely. You know, as as I mentioned that, you know, there's so much guilt and shame associated with it, that as Holly was explaining to and you know, I'm sure that she will give her opinion too on this thing, that women you know, they they don't, if they are not even acknowledging something within themselves, how are they going to come out and talk about it?
Those who do want to talk about it, there is no platform offered, you know, women hardly have the opportunity to reach out to a chef in a private session, there's always somebody standing, you know, they don't, they don't get these opportunities. And again, they're shy, it's a very, very intimate matter for a female to be able to say that I am not satisfied in my intimate, my physical, intimate relationship with my husband. Now, what I envy as a as a female therapist is that people are actually quite open. And they do, they're very candid about how they feel. And they generally do express that this is a big issue, and it's constantly coming up. And there's just and they need
validation. I mean, this is I think this is exactly why we need to be doing a, a conference like this because women need to be validated. They need to feel that they have every right to feel good to enjoy the physical intimacy, there's no shame to it. And I think this is the first step to overcoming the hurdles. And I've seen my clients actually overcome this one by one and I'm hamdulillah improving the whole quality of their marriage.
You know, like, it's been such a blessing to be.
Mmm has been Muslim matters has been such a blessing for many of us and many of the sisters as well. And I know that sometimes in the communities it might seem like this is all we seem to be talking about. But I just want Let me read you a typical comment left on Muslim matters. And I want people to listen to this in great detail and to understand why we're here and why we're talking about this today.
The sister says I never knew until four after four years of marriage that there was something called an orgasm for females. When I realized and discussed with my husband, he was too surprised. Till this day, he isn't keen on satisfying me though I do my best to be proactive and attractive before making love. I've also approached for divorce but due to family pressure I have to retract. Though he fails every time to satisfy me in bed. He expects his food clothes to be ready in time. But he's, he's God fearing well behaved and a good person. He has fulfilled basic clothing needs for me. I'm grateful to him for his spending on us. May Allah reward him for his goodness and guide him for his
ignorance. I mean, but I can simply not explain the emptiness it leaves when he just sleeps calmly leaving me aroused once he is done. He feels hurt when I say I too want to be satisfied. I have taken it as a loss will to continue in this relationship for the sake of our kids and family. For this dunya wasn't meant to be Jenna, I will try my best to my death to keep him happy in bed. Though at times. I wonder if my days in this dunya will ever come to an end. It is far better to repeat remain a spinster than to live in an hollow unsatisfied marriage. Females do have strong sexual appetite. This may this might surely be ups and downs depending on the circumstances, hormonal
levels, but my request to all brothers out there. Don't be selfish, no matter how tired you are. If you want to be satisfied every night, every time of making love make sure so does your wife to remember before she is your wife, she is a Muslim, and it is your duty to better fulfill the rights of another Muslim. Your wife will never be emotionally attached to you if you don't satisfy her with your own love and willingness in that. May Allah grant us all righteous and loving spouses he keep us chaste. This comment was just a panel a touch on everything that we have been talking about. And
it's a panel that we have a safe platform like Muslim matters where we can the sisters can leave topics like that without being judged without being shy and they can approach people of knowledge who can give them answers on handed in that. This exemplifies the second point that we're going to move up to. We've already covered erroneous beliefs on on how women were raised. The second reason we want the second reason that we want to cover is women experiencing incomplete and unsatisfactory intimacy with their husbands. So