A true story:
One of my friends was S-word-ually harassed by her driver at a very young age. He did things to her while she lay and watched the fan above. I remember her describing how she would stare at the fan, watching it trying its very best to cool the room a little. She did not understand what was happening to her but she understood it was wrong.
Because she had always been told that any physical interactions between a man and woman are dirty and should never be discussed.
Hence, when she should have reported the corrupt driver to her parents, she stayed silent about it. This carried on until the driver had to quit due to other obligations. He walked free after damaging a little girl to such a degree that, 8 years later, she still carried the secret around with her. A man who, if alive, is probably still walking free without atoning for his crime. A man who will still harass another young girl because he was not called to account for what he did to my friend.
I could argue that the root causes are: unaccountability, shamelessness, no woman empowerment, etc. etc.
But let’s take a step back to look at the bigger picture.
|EXTREME A (Aka The Ignorance Hypothesis)||EXTREME B (Aka The Too Much Information Hypothesis)|
|· Don’t talk about it.
· Don’t mention it.
· Keep it hidden and under cover because it is inappropriate to discuss matters like these.
· Act like you don’t know what it is.
|· Everyone is doing it, let’s do it as well.
· Everyone is talking about it, let’s talk about it as well.
· There’s nothing shameless about nature! Chill out, dude!
· Hashtag YOLO.
We are given two extreme situations in the table above. It seems that societies these days are either exposed to Extreme A or to Extreme B.
Extreme A: People in self-proclaimed conservative societies will be seen trying to act like there is no such thing as the S word. They will do everything in their power to make people stop talking or asking questions about it. They will treat it as a filthy subject that should not be broached in front of the young or the old, the cowardly or the bold.
Extreme B: People in self-proclaimed liberal societies will be seen trying to act like their friends, neighbours, family members, acquaintances and complete strangers need to know all about their S-word-ual lives. They will do everything in their power to make people see the glamorous social lives they are leading with their latest boyfriends/girlfriends. They will treat its mistreatment as a social necessity, without which they will no longer be part of the herd.
Imagine a society where both extremes are amalgamated.
Yes, both extremes are present at the same time.
Welcome to the Pakistani society!
Extreme A: From a tender age, we learn that the S-word is a dirty word (we use ‘gender’ instead of ‘the S-word’). When puberty strikes, we are left to ‘handle it’ without any explanation for what on earth is going on with our bodies. We know about the basic needs of life: hunger, thirst, shelter; however, our S-word-ual needs are conspicuously missing from the list. Without knowing anything about one of man’s most basic necessities, we are enrolled into co-educational institutes where we interact with the opposite gender. Eventually, we begin experiencing certain feelings towards the opposite gender which cause us to think strangely about them – they might even wind up in our dreams in ways we don’t understand. We don’t talk about it though because it is such an obscene topic. We ‘handle it’ as well as we can. This brings us to Extreme B!
Extreme B: Hollywood, Bollywood, Lollywood: you name it. The media has us in its grips. The movies and seasons we watch are packed with the steamiest S-word scenes imaginable. What’s more, movies that were once rated R are now suitable for 16 year olds, and what was once PG-13 is now suitable for all ages. (Desensitisation, anyone?) We all watch these movies and seasons on our televisions, tablets, PC’s and phones. Whilst mainstream media may offer a little more than lust via twisted romance and love triangles, the darker side of media has little else to provide us with. You know what I am talking about when I talk about the darker side: most of us have been there and it is absolutely traumatising. This is especially true if you have no idea what the S-word is, then you see things that only prove to you why you have always been told the S-word is a very bad thing. So you satiate your human S-word-ual drive by watching more of this.
Here is another story from a friend who had a (very premature) relationship experience. He narrates it himself!
I guess it’s the irony of being exposed to these ideas of romance in media and it being forbidden in our conservative society and I guess it’s also because of peer pressure that you may feel the false sense of emptiness.
My story began just like that, just hello hi with my cousin, nothing unusual. Then from hello hi to more topics to more intimate topics to the point that we (or rather I) just started to think that this is the type of story I used to see in the films translated into real life. Unbeknownst to us it was just our youth, hormone imbalance and brainwashing from the movies. And in the process committing a sin, and no matter which movie you watch, Allah doesn’t let such relations thrive. But when I was in the midst of it, I felt as if there was nothing wrong, as if all these were trivial things that God would forgive me readily for. As I said before, Allah doesn’t let such relations thrive. And by the time I realized what my mistake was and wanted to start over, it was too late. We were two different people from what we began to the point we couldn’t even recognize each other.
It all sounds sappy. But in the youth, that’s what goes on, no matter what their parents try to tell them, they think their story is different, that their parents don’t know any better. I was one such fool, sadly. And the person who I could not have imagined living a day without, I have to live knowing that the person is alive, but dead to me. In the end, I believe this made me a better person with WAAYYYYYY more self-respect than I had for myself, but the cost of this lesson still haunts me to this day. And all the so called “love” I had in me has been transformed into hate. It’s not a very mature thing to do, but it’s something I’m still working on because of my mistake, and had someone told me something like this before maybe, just maybe I would have been dissuaded from such illicit relations. The end.
Like most Pakistani youth, my friend was never told about the S-word, love, or relationships. He is scarred because of this experience. Amateur lust prevailed and two people were hurt in the process.
So how can we deal with both extremities? Do they even have to exist?
There can be a middle path.
But first, you need to understand that you are responsible for what you watch, read, and listen to. It is extremely easy to lean towards the dirtiest things: it is literally a few clicks away. It is also easy to believe that all things in Extreme B are natural and should be encouraged.
It doesn’t matter whether you are 20 or 80 years old, rich or poor, single or married: you need to stay away from shameless media. Sure, it won’t be easy, but believe me, the things you read/listen to/watch show up on your demeanour. There will be a look in your eyes, a lilt to your voice, a spring to your step. Don’t starve your soul to feed your body. There is a balance between the two and it is attainable.
As for the current youth: when you have children, tell them about the S-word, and tell it to them like it is: a natural human necessity that is a beautiful part of a married life. (Because let’s face it, the system of copulation without a formal marriage bond is failing miserably in the West. Honestly, I have watched enough tragic American high-school and college stories where everybody’s heart is being broken left, right and centre. Anti-depressants and talks with a shrink ensue. Stock up on those prescription drugs and psychiatrists’ fees!). Keep your kids away from the dark side of the Internet and immature conversations with their friends. If they know the facts about the science behind the S-word, they will not need to explore it any further. They won’t Google anything or WhatsApp message each other out of curiosity: they already know the workings behind it all! In fact, they could even steer their friends away from the dark side by imparting the knowledge you gave to them.
Please don’t wait until the night before their wedding (which is what some Pakistani parents have actually done with their children). Tell them when the S-word is right and when it is wrong. Emphasise on how respectable they are in every way.
Tell them now.
Tell them before they grow into frustrated men whose ideas of love are derived from the dark side of the Internet, where women are objects, not human beings with feelings. Tell them before they grow into women who don’t understand that they have rights over their bodies. Tell them before their curiosity pulls them towards shamelessness and indecency. Tell them before they corrupt themselves out of ignorance.
Just tell them.