Defying the notion that pre-marital sex is damnable and shameful in Middle Eastern and South Asian (MESA) communities is a conundrum in itself, but even more acute when the focus shifts to casual sex. Even western communities are still a little sensitive to the subject, so how do we start to normalise and destigmatise this sentiment in our own communities?
Regardless of age, casual sex is the ultimate act of blasphemy in the eyes of traditional MESA society. There are several ways one could bring shame to their family: overdoing vodka and Redbull mixers, being tagged in club photos at university with a bunch of rugby lads, or watching Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents with your parents, there are so many things you could do to get those aunties talking – yet casual sex seems to be the most unpardonable and unforgettable sin.
Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that emotions are absent – it’s simply a meaningless, ‘slutty’ act brought on by selfishness. Or rather, it’s simply the decline in marital eligibility once you have sex without attachment or feelings involved – sex with someone who won’t end up as your husband or wife.
For the MESA community, sex is commonly viewed as a meaningful act, to be undertaken with only one person. Ideally, you should be married, or at least be in a very long-term relationship. You are expected to wait a while before you invite them up for after-hours coffee, get to know their personality, and appreciate their company without getting into their pants. But what if we reject this as our norm? What if we talk about how pleasure and self-indulgence should be prioritised, rather than fretting what the aunties might say?
Being a so-called ‘slut’ often equates to being egocentric, to care more about your own desires above all else. We’re often told, especially as women, to prepare our bodies for our future partner. “No respectable man wants a woman who sleeps around,” are words etched into our subconscious, like a pious mantra. We need to start by completely eradicating the concept that we are objects, existing only to satisfy another being.
Minding ones own business in general, is a start but once we start to value humans as, well, humans, there will be a deeper understanding that sex is just an act of gratification and that it shouldn’t define whether someone is moral or immoral, valuable or worthless. As long as you’re single and on the same page that things will not elevate with the individual you’re hooking up with, there shouldn’t be a problem with casual sex. The 2020s could be the year where a new chapter is added to all our religious books. A chapter that tells us that it’s time to care more about being a decent human being, rather than what our bodies have done. We should be defined by our kindness, not by whether we had safe, consensual intercourse with a stranger.
Even as children, we think of our future sex lives. Aged 14, I was determined to stay pure until marriage. At age 22, I said fuck it. Albeit, late to the game, I’d done the ‘crime’ and was ready to do the ‘time,’ expecting the onset of guilt to follow, but then I realised I felt nothing. It seemed odd that a simple act had been such a melodramatic affair for so many years.
As aforementioned, casual sex is a touchy subject in some seemingly liberal cultures, let alone in the MESA community, but this needs to shift. Quit telling people they’re unworthy because they choose to participate in no-strings-attached encounters. Stop advising women to wait for three dates before they go back home with someone. Make a list of the benefits of casual sex – from emotionless satisfaction to a selection of people you could befriend, think of how much more content you could be when you know things will stay enticing for the duration of the sexual exchange, and that you’ll never get complacent with that person.
Of course, there are some people who enjoy the comfort and stability of a relationship, but if you don’t, feel free to vocalise it. It’s OK if you don’t ever want to get to that stage in a relationship where you are aware of your other half’s bowel movements or can name their grandad’s favourite bakery in Switzerland. It doesn’t make you nefarious if you don’t ever want to fall in love with someone, annoying habits and all. If you want to go for brunch with your mates on a Sunday, instead of spending it with the person you’re sleeping with, then that’s exactly what you should do.
When the lurid topic of casual sex comes up, we should encourage each other to luxuriate in it, not be ashamed of it. Stop validating the regressive ideas that our parents have instilled in us, that only the depraved commit such acts. What happens when you wait till marriage anyway? You wait several years to find out the love of your life is shit in bed. Perhaps we should all stop assuming that everyone ought to end up married, with kids. Why do we even place the concept of marriage on a pedestal? If that’s what you want, great, but don’t impose it on others.
Casual sex, when undertaken with respect and understanding can be great for the mind, body and soul. And even if you do change your mind about monogamy and want to settle down later on in life, do you really want to be with someone so insecure that they fret about your previous sex life? Let’s start normalising the idea of a 60-year-old fuckgirl and dispose of bigoted opinions that no one cares about – except the aunties I guess, who will only find something else to judge you for anyway.