The definition of sexuality, like sexuality itself, lies on a spectrum. There are many different understandings of what Sexuality is and I would love to share my journey of exploring my sexuality based on two of the many definitions. I am by no means a great writer, but I do believe that simply by seeing and reading the experiences of others, we are able to form our own opinions and come to terms with our reality. By seeing that other people are going through something similar to what we do, we feel a certain form of closure, almost as if through the simple act of sharing, we feel validated. I hope that you read this with an open heart and that in a way or two you get to benefit from my stories! Enjoy!
Sexuality: The capacity for Sexual Feelings.
I was sexually awakened at a very young age. My awakening at a very young age often scared me. I grew up in a very religious household, went to a full-time religious all-girls’ institution, and even taught in a weekend Islamic School. Hell, I’m even writing this in a mosque. I remember knowing about sexual intimacy at the age of 6. How young! There were some days I would lie naked on the bed and imagine men coming into the room through the window to have sex and I’d say “next”. I also remember being 8 years old and typing “Naked” into the old YouTube search engine. It was WILD.
I have no idea how I came to be so aware of my sexuality at such a young age. But one thing that was for sure is that I was not proud. Just as much as I was aware of my sexual awareness, I was aware that my thoughts were shameful in the eyes of our Malay-Muslim community.
Because I had early exposure to the concept of sex, I would be the girl in class who would openly talk about it, sometimes in a joking way and other times for education’s sake, while all my friends became flustered and embarrassed. When we were studying the basics of reproduction back in Primary 6, my friends would ask me about things they didn’t understand. I would be the one to teach them, but I would also be the one whom they sneered at for having a “dirty mind”.
In the community I was in, people did not know how to differentiate between sex education and having sexual feelings. It did not matter that growing teens ought to understand about safe sex and contraceptives. No, what mattered was that as young Muslim girls, we must be pure, polite and moral. Sex is never pure but vile and sinful. Abstinence was far more superior than education. And because of that, until now, I have friends who are still oblivious about sex. Once, in Pre-University, a classmate even came to me to ask about sex. She was not aware that people had to have sex to have children. She thought that they just laid in bed and the sperm swims into the woman’s vagina via the bed. 17. Has she never seen a textbook? God.
Another friend recently asked our group of good friends about how we deal with being turned on and horny before marriage. I still don’t know the correct answer, which upsets me, as it reveals the fact that there has never been a safe space for us to openly discuss our sexuality as young Muslim women. We were taught that the solution to ‘horniness’ was marriage, but that’s obviously wrong. And the truth remains that up til now, a lot of Muslim youths don’t know how to channel our pre-marriage sexual feelings without feeling sinful.
Although I was aware that the school needed more people who were willing to discuss sex in a non-lustful and normalised light, growing up, I still felt so ashamed that I knew so much. Sometimes, although very rarely, I still do. The words of my friends and family really got to me. I hated myself for so long and beat myself up about wanting sex. Every time I watched porn I would hate myself so much. Every time I felt even slightly aroused I’d curse myself. I tried so much to abstain but that only made me fall deeper into this rabbit hole of pornography. That was the only way I knew how to control my desires without blatantly transgressing. But that made me develop porn addiction that was so bad that I would break school rules to go to the toilet to watch porn in the middle of class. I developed porn addiction that I had to overcome alone.
I am very thankful that I am in a place of control now, and I’m proud to say that I did it! It took a lot of reflection and forgiveness for myself but I made it. Here are a few tips for those who may be facing similar problems:
- Remember that it is completely OKAY to want sex. It IS human nature. It is NOT sinful.
- Learn and do your research. There are many opinions about porn and masturbation in the Islamic point of view which is far different than the norm. Come to an informed conclusion about what is okay for you and slowly work towards that. Rationalise with yourself and help yourself understand the lines that you have drawn.
- Forgive yourself. Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we relapse. It happens. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
- SEEK HELP. If there is one thing I regret doing, its not getting help earlier on. I was surrounded by people who did not want to understand me and who shunned people like me, so I really needed people to talk to who can help me understand my problems. There are many Sex positive centres out there and all we have to do is search. If not, get online, find support groups there. You are not alone.
Now, I am incredibly proud of my knowledge and my journey. Because I was shunned in the past, I forced myself to be educated instead of conforming to dangerous norms. And because I decided to educate myself, I have created a safe space for my juniors to come and ask me about sex and sexuality should they ever need to. I am by no means a therapist or a sex ed teacher and I still have so much to learn, but I am a Young Muslim Woman with High Sex Drive and Knowledge. I have my own story and I am able to comfort and encourage those around me who have questions to not be ashamed for wanting to know more about the basic human need.
More importantly, I have come to terms with my sexuality and sexual awareness.
I am no longer ashamed.
ASMY is a young lady who is trying her very best to figure out her life’s calling and place in the universe.
Illustration by Ishibashi Chiharu