10 December 2007

What's in a Taboo?

A post by Hayat caught my eye today and opened up a whole door of questions. It might not mean much to you if you don't read Arabic, but the topic revolves around sexuality in general and our Islamic societies. Considering the conservative nature of such societies, sex isn't exactly an openly discussed topic; the concept isn't featured on local TV, radio stations, or in the newspapers. Talking about openly it is taboo, and any form of sexual relationship outside of marriage is forbidden.

And as stated, 'outside' of marriage; therefore, the only allowed outlet for sexually frustrated individuals would be marriage.

Now, with marriage being a step that may be impractical at any given time due to financial reasons, family issues, and so on, many individuals may be tempted to find another solution to fulfill their sexual needs. A few may be able to control them, but many will have to resort to other means, many of which I don't need to state here.

The whole point of the topic was, we have a problem; we have an issue, which is not openly discussed because of societal taboos, and therefore ignorance reigns supreme. As many youth (or even adults) approach sex, just the fact that it is unspoken of doesn't mean they will not do it; TV, movies, internet are more than enough to spark interest in it. Unfortunately, unlike some other 'more advanced' countries, we don't talk about sex, we don't have awareness lectures, we don't teach kids about it in schools. So what sort of understanding do we have about it? Well, it feels good. But how about diseases? Pregnancy? Safe sex? And so on?

You see, labelling something as taboo, and acting totally oblivious to the fact that it happens around us is wrong. Sex will happen whether you like it or not, and you can't control it. What you can control, however, is how much knowledge there is about it. Children in schools in some other countries grow up taking sex education classes. They learn what safe sex is, what the downsides are. They have questions, and they get answers, which might help control their desires rather than push them to go out and discover on their own.

How many cases of sexual diseases, or pregnancies happen outside of marriage here? Well, believe it or not, more than you think. But again, it's all taboo, so you never hear of it.

Doesn't it ever occur that keeping quiet about something actually encourages people to go out there and do it? When you don't talk about something, you're encouraging people to go out and find out about it themselves. When you restrict something from someone, it just makes them want it more; just take a look at some of the other countries in the GCC, and how their 'weekend visitors' act when they come here? Hell, I don't blame them, it's their society that's turned them into this.

But this post isn't about sex. No. It's about taboos. It's about drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality, and everything that is considered religiously and culturally wrong, but has become a lot more popular in our society, somehow, through not talking about it. Through not discussing the effects. Through not telling people why it's right or wrong. Our societies have a serious problem in facing the facts, and talking about them, whether it's from societal problems such as the above, to reporting a fault a company made that caused damage/losses, to admitting a mistake made by a minister that causes many people grief.

Deal with it. If it's a fact of life, you sure as hell won't fix it by keeping quiet. You can't deal with something if you don't discuss it, communicate it, and try to encourage solutions.


NewMe said...

beautiful post!!
shouldn't "we the new generation" put pressure on the society to change things..
if we really want to see some change, we should take the risk and become it!
wishing you love

Re.Loaded Soul said...

You are right Ammar, though I can see that many are claiming to 'unban' such critical social matters, for a sake of educational and awareness reasons.

I am not questioning the relegion or tending to generalize the issue, but we are as a muslim community interpret what is in the holy quran and hadeeths, from a shellow perspective. I mean if illegal sex (i.e. outside marriage) is prohibited in Islam, why people even don't want to think about all the steps before and after the real action of the "7aram" thing?

Anyways, as you said, it is gonna happen. It is not a matter of being stubborn, rather flowing with the huge current!

Anonymous said...

And as stated, 'outside' of marriage; therefore, the only allowed outlet for sexually frustrated individuals would be marriage. lol! :D

Hmmm ya, hope future generations consider not talking about forbidden things as taboo!

By the way, Sex is also a taboo in the land where Kamasutra originated(India). Strange, isn't it?!?(or something like "necessity is the mother of invention"!)

Ammoontie said...

Talking about it is taboo, but doing it is not...

beaverboosh said...

Hey Ammar,
Good luck with "opening up the dialogue". Discussion promotes better understanding amoungst all of us.
Hey and there are no worries of the global wanking crisis hitting Islamic counties!
Anyway, you are not missing much! The largest percentage of sexually frustrated men in the West are married!

N. said...

Lets start the dialogue, lets talk about sex. :P
No really you bring up a good point. What the Arab world needs to do is to TALK without accusations and in a diplomatic professional manner, about everything!

Shoush said...

9a7 ilsanik wala. I concur!

We need awareness. Proper awareness. Cuz the truth is, if our families/schools/society doesn't teach us wat we need to know, we WILL find out from other sources and God knows where these sources come from or how they teach us. We can't just act like these issues don't matter. We can't pretend that if we don't talk about them that we don't care or dont want them. They need to yistaw3iboon ina these things r part of our human instincts. Instead of ignoring them, there shud be awareness on how to deal with them.. the rite way.

With taboos it's basically: ilmamnoo3 mar'3oob.

Shoush said...

One more thing. When it comes to religion, ppl can't force others to obey the rules of our religion; therefore, when ppl are educated about "taboo" issues, the risks and everything involved, then it's up to them to make the decision of obeying wat religion tells them. It's them and their degree of religiousness and their conscience. However, it's the JOB of ppl in society to educate the ppl and spread the awareness. That's wat their suppose to do not ignore the issue mara wa7da and act like it's not a big deal. Cuz it is.

Mrs Dynamite aka Lorena +Wonder Women... said...

true amaro.. and not even that some times wile you are marriege thre are taboos or things that you cant even talk with your parter.. i belive that if in arab countrys they were abot more open with sexual education, wont be that much prostitusion eather.. you know what is forbiden is better ... hugs my friend ... i wish this coming year for you and you family HEALT! , prosperity and happines! :)

Coolred38 said...

I had a discussion with a mixture of bahraini and european/american women recently...and it was unanimous hands down...we (non bahrainis)are more open about it and are in favour of children knowing about sex....but the bahrainis mothers claim that society makes it a no no to discuss it...children that discuss sex openly are probably doing it secretly...so for bahraini women to protect their children...they dont mention sex...ever...to them. How many of those Bahraini mothers said that their daughters were married off knowing almost nothing about sex...and were scared to death at the prospect of it...and yet the mother still did not open the subject...why is it such a taboo. The prophet was quite open about sex discussions....he welcomed ladies even asking him such questions(all though I believe he kept Aisha nearby for the more delicate answers etc)When did all this "if we dont talk about it...maybe it will go away" mentality come into being?

Dont talk about it all you want...but you will still have diseases, unwanted pregnancies, rapes, you name...sex stops for no ignorant fool.

manutdfanatic said...

So true.

Forget sex and the works, I know quite a few girls with mothers who never even informed them about any of the changes that would come about when they reached puberty; some didn't even know what was happening and assumed they were dying of some disease when they first saw the blood. It's downright pathetic.

Shale bin Agnon said...

There is a pretty damn high rate of teenage pregnancy in most 'more advanced' countries that offer sex education. We treated our contents of our sex and drug education classes like a shopping list.

ammaro.com said...

newme; we should put pressure, and speak up. its not wrong to talk.

reloaded; definately. im not saying sex or any of the other issues are right or wrong here. im just saying staying quiet about it and pretending it doesnt exist is just going to cause problems.

joel; that is strange.

amoontie; doing it without anyone knowing.

beaver; hahaha, you got that right. here too!

N; reminds me of a salt an pepa song back in the early 90's

shoush; true; i've seen so many people want to explore something just because they haven't been taught about it

dynamite; we could solve quite a lot of it...

coolred; i dont know how not telling a person about something is supposed to protect them from it. youre supposed to let them know what theyre facing!

manutd; wow. thats like... just... wow.

shale; theres a difference between acceptance and acknowledgement. i'm not saying our societies have to accept this action, but they have to acknowledge that they do, infact, exist! and by not acknowledging it, it sparks many, many problems.

unokhan said...


martin luther king said "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

some of us start out our lives being silent about some things; when we are children and all of the grown people around us are silent, we die a little when we copy them.

ammaro.com said...

unokhan; that is so true. copying mindlessly doesn't build anything in us. we need to learn, explore, observe, analyze.