Ok, so travels to foreign climes might be over but that doesn’t mean its all doom and gloom. August is a lovely month to be in London. Nearly everyone goes away and those that are left are free to enjoy a city that on any average day of the week is busting a blood vessel to get every thing done on time. Traffic, deadlines, workflow, it all normally happens at breakneck speed - usually so that we can get to the weekend and ‘enjoy’ ourselves with an equal amount of fervour. Not so in August.
A languid air settles over the city. People walk slower, the roads are emptier. A journey by car that usually takes me an hour takes me twenty minutes. On a Saturday. This is unheard of. Queues are shorter; people are nicer to each other. And all of a sudden, all of the things that seem so important…..just don’t. I don’t mean that I stop paying attention to my personal hygiene or anything as drastic as that. Just that one realise’s that there is time to stop and smell the roses and that pleasure can be found in small things. Relaxing at the pool with the locals, sitting in the garden on a warm evening…..perhaps this is what people have been banging on about when they talk about ‘stay-cations’. That’s certainly what I tell myself as I realise that I have enough commitments to tie me to this city for another good while yet.
But I do have a response to my Muslim plea that I posted the other day. It’s not quite the story I was after but it’s a good start. I talked about my long and fruitless quest for the Muslim virginity loss story on this blog the other day. I have searched high and low for this story, considered asking complete strangers in the street, attended conferences and generally followed up every lead that I have ever been given with the enthusiasm of Sherlock Holmes, the Pink Panther and Magnum P.I combined. (although not wearing a monocle, a raincoat and tight shorts). But to no avail. It’s a tough call. These are not conversations that Muslims deem appropriate for public consumption.
Our story teller today, from Syria, makes some interesting points. I concur with these types of stories far more than people think. I do think that people don’t value their virginity half as much as they could. For most people that I know, it would never have occurred to them to wait longer than ten minutes to lose their virginity. Wait for someone who might have actually taken the time to make it a pleasant experience for them? Forget it. Our urge to ‘belong’ far outweighs our desire to wait for a potentially worthy experience. No one wants to be the odd one out so we doggedly follow the pack and avail ourselves of virginity at the earliest opportunity. But the alternative, as suggested below, also seems a bit drastic to me.
Waiting for marriage is a risky strategy. Sex and intimacy are too much of an integral part of any relationship to take a chance on. This is the glue that could hold you together through the rocky moments. One needs to know that it ‘works’ so to speak. And in the end, this story isn’t really about that anyway, it’s about the second-class citizen role that women continue to play in society. Our author tries to make sense of this: ‘By the way, im just mentioning girls but its not allowed to have sex in our religion for both sexes. But society pays more attention to what a girl should not do….’ Yes it does, and it has terrible consequences for some people.
Believe it or not, I genuinely did not mean to stray into this territory today. What I really want to know is this: why does society place more value on a woman’s virginity than a man’s? Our author puts the dilemma beautifully when she says this: ‘if they see a girl that is not a virgin then she’s not worthy enough for a guy to marry her.’
Why do you think it is that a woman’s virginity has always been regarded as something more precious, more sought after and therefore, more important than a man’s?
Gut reaction. Be as blatant and as honest as you like. I know what I think but I want to know what you think. I won't be publishing these, they are purely for my own use. Its part of the research for my book!
Please send your point of view/rant/ten cents worth to me here:
In advance of any replies, thank you, it is a HUGE help. And in the meanwhile, here is nineteen year old Zaima from Syria with her very interesting ten cents worth…
‘HELLO kate I just read ur article about the VIRGINITY PROJECT, i was reading random stuff on the net and i came across ur article so as a muslim girl i wanted you to hear my opinion and my side of the story.
Im not strict about religious issues but i believe in certain issues God has asked us to do and i know that there’s a genuine reason behind every one of those issues. One of them is staying a virgin, clean, pure, and untouched. Here in the Syrian society there is a very large amount of people who are very strict concerning religious issues and if they see a girl that is not a virgin then she’s not worthy enough for a guy to marry her.
It’s like a gift a girl has to keep till her wedding day. By the way, im just mentioning girls but its not allowed to have sex in our religion for both sexes. But society pays more attention to what a girl should not do and if she is following what religion and society accepts. As for me, i have been around the world and i know that it’s very normal for a girl to loose her virginity at a very early age.
Im gonna express the way i really feel about this issue. i think bonding with the person who you have feelings for is really important – kissing, hugging and all these physical things, u cant really be close to some one without them. But sex is something forbidden for us. Some muslims may have had sex but not as u said at the beginning of ur article. Its not true that they all do but the only difference is that they don’t talk about it ....(the author mistook my meaning at this point. I was referencing the point that Muslims have sex lives, but that they don’t discuss them openly in the way that we do) because if a guy marries a young lady and on their wedding night he finds out that she is not a virgin then many actions will be taken if he is able to forgive her then that’s fine but if his parents or family hear about that then her picture and reputation will be long damaged and destroyed.
I know u may think that this is unfair and that she should decide her own destiny and what she wants to do with her body….if this is what ur thinking then i agree with u cuz i think every human being has the right to decide what to do with their own body but i wanna tell u something - don’t u think that there’s a reason in some religions they don’t allow people to have sex before marriage because it keeps u both excited about exploring each others bodies, it keeps a certain passion for each other like really strong passion u just wana be close to this person in a physical way but after u are sure that he is emotionally right for you.
i think having sex in an early age is really wrong not only for these religious reasons because everyone has their own beliefs but also for the risk of these diseases that we keep hearing about that are caused due to sexual intercourse. Another reason is that if a girl is immature and doesn’t have protected sex it may lead her to be pregnant, maybe dropping out of school that is really bad in my opinion and in the US its all u hear.... shes missing school because she’s sick or pregnant... by the way im 19 years old and i have had relationships but i am a virgin and i plan on keeping it this way... i was just trying to show u another side of the story here’.
*All names are changed. (even if I don’t always say so!).