Monday, May 5, 2008
And the beat goes on
Driving around the Queen's Park Savannah crackling with dryness, the very aridity a reminder of how quickly barren life can become without a little rain, the poui trees exploding, pink and yellow puff balls, blooms carpeting the ground with their dying. It might be easy to despair but coming back from a good lunch where the conversation was food and seeing all the beauty even in nature's slow death I thought of the article that I had read before leaving. It was about a woman from Mali fighting to remain in the United States to avoid an arranged marriage to her cousin.
She had been circumcised at 11 and had blanked the details from her memory but considered her life threatened because of the process. The spotlight has once again been trained on female circumcision with threats on the life of Dutch parliamentarian Ayan Hirsi Ali and various African Supermodels who have made a name decrying the practice. I think of myself, as a young woman and now, ever thankful that I do not come from that culture. While it is not the general behaviour for "good" Indian girls to talk about sex, I am neither good nor purely Indian, India has created some of the world's greatest erotic art in its temples and the Kama Sutra is acknowledged as a definitive sex manual.
Woman are always made to feel guilty about their sexuality. Men are kings if they have multiple partners but if you're a woman admitting to having pleasure in sex, you slut! Admittedly, my first furtive forays into sex were disasters brought on by fumbling incompetence at an age when I should probably have been better served passing my exams. Imagine how much worse with no pleasure centre to make it bearable? This of course is the desired result of female circumcision, to ensure that you forever remain chaste, the thought of intercourse too painful to consider unless you absolutely must. I would have forever closed my legs at this act perpetrated, instead of the coming together of man and woman, mutual sharing, skin to skin, having one what can be one of the most intimate acts a human can choose. Do you know what it is to have someone inside of you, sharing your being. Sex for women is intrusive, allowing someone to penetrate your core, to invade that sacred place. You share yourself when you have sex, even if it is solely for pleasure and not as part of a deeper relationship. That's why rape is so invasive.
I would hate not to enjoy sex; to share with my partner the slide of skin on skin, dripping sweat, hands or tongue caressing those spots that drive you crazy. The insistent throb and beat of hearts, pulse and blood under the skin, every inch of you feeling, glorying in that moment. Riding atop watching his face or wrapping my legs around his back, holding close, dying a little death as blood boils, senses become acute every time you come. It is a part of what brings us together, when it works, each relationship is enhanced by the process.
And yet, female circumcision is perpetrated by women on behalf of men, a form of control to keep women in their place, an object, vessel for his gratification, his use, his property, not to call your body or soul your own.