Having sex for the first time is undoubtedly an awkward act for all. It’s messy and uncomfortable, and even painful for some. It is also a process that both participants need educating on, especially from family members.
For most MESA (Middle Eastern and South Asian) communities, this isn’t the case, especially if you’re a woman. Often times, family members will assume you will only lose your virginity once married, and then, it’s your husband’s duty to teach and guide you.
The profound predicament with this notion is that the storyline most of our parents have planned for us is idealistic, particularly if we’re being raised in western society. Above all, this mindset forces men to take charge and women to be submissive, potentially harming both individuals.
When and if, as a MESA, you decide to defy these traditions and shift the direction of your planned destiny, things can get complicated, especially sex. Safe sex is not a topic most MESA teens are educated on, unlike in western cultures.
I was always startled, even judgemental, when I heard 16-year-old teens talk about discussing sex education with their parents. My parents would change the channel if there was a prolonged kissing scene, let alone even mention sex.
Luckily, for my parents, my complete lack of allure at the time and disinterest in the opposite sex meant I wouldn’t be participating in the act any time soon. But later on in life, when my mindset did change and I decided to take charge of my own destiny, sex wouldn’t be an easy ride (no pun intended).
Without sex education, trying to engage in safe and pleasurable sex remains a conundrum. Not knowing what to feel, not being able to identify whether the sexual act taking place is normal, and trying to figure out if you’re being a prude or not is all at the forefront our minds.
Brown Girl Magazine‘s Dr. Tayyaba Ahmed explains that avoiding topics such as sex “causes problems like endometriosis and vaginismus to go unnoticed.”
The only aspect of sex identified within some MESA groups is the one where you prepare your body to satisfy the needs of the heterosexual male. For MESA females, this can lead to neglecting their own bedroom desires and even feeling pelvic pain.
Reaching an orgasm for most females is a lot harder than it is for men, but it seems as though it is almost impossible for some MESA women. The reasoning behind this is simple – we’re never taught to enjoy sex. Deep down, we do not believe we have a right to experience sexual pleasure, to seize joy out of it.
This sentiment is amplified if you’re partaking in sex before marriage or with someone outside of your race or cultural background. Perhaps there is a level of guilt, no matter how liberal you may be, deep down something is holding us back and shaming us.
Trying to put “it’s not you, it’s me” into words to a sexual partner and explain why orgasms are not reached is hard. Why is it so complicated to be a MESA Carrie Bradshaw? Let alone a Samantha?
Conversations around sex for a lot of MESA communities are still taboo, which means enough still isn’t being said and the topic of safe sex is entirely eliminated.
A lot of work needs to be done, and this includes unlearning what our parents have taught us and what society has instilled in us. No matter what age, it’s never too late to learn about the significance of sex education.
We need to speak to our parents as adults and address why they should have explained to us how to use condoms. We need to enlighten them about how avoiding the topic of the morning after pill, may have caused some of us unpleasant experiences. We need to let them know that painful sex isn’t normal.
It will unquestionably be a challenge for all of us, as the majority of MESA parents are stubborn and determined to stick to traditional beliefs surrounding sex.
We need to figure out the best practices to teach the next generation of youth the value of safe sex and allow them to have difficult conversations about it, without judgement or interference.