Dealing With Sexual Violence in a Society That Suffocates Any Mention of “Sex”

By: Rawan Khalil

Please allow me to introduce you to ‘X’  and ‘Y’ a little boy and girl (respectively). Do not worry I am not going to magnify your mathematical nightmares. They both grow up in an Arab household, a very traditional one, and of course in a very conservative society. From a very young age Y is taught by her mother that there are certain parts in her body that she must cover up, and once she hits puberty she is told that she mustn’t talk about it as no one can now that she is bleeding from between her legs. The most sexual education she gets is biology class when she learns about sexual reproduction , if she is lucky of course with some minimum information about the menstrual cycle, nothing constructive just pure facts she learns for an exam.

On the other hand, X grows up in a male-dominated community were pop culture highlights male domination and he starts to understand that he has desires which are further magnified by the media. As any other teenage boy his age he watches porn in his room with the door closed. He also learnt about reproduction in school but still it’s pretty basic.

So, this is a representation of the amount of sex-ed many people are aware of and I just want you to keep this story in mind while reading this article.

We hear the word violence and red lights go off in our hearts. ALERT. Something is wrong. That is because, we recognise violence as brutality and cruelty or in other words inhumanity but it tends to stop there. The discussion dies when it is sexual violence or in other words the discussion is not even initiated. We hear the word sexual and we shut up. Because, we have as a society tremendous restrictions that have been put in there which silence us about topics which involve the mention, or god forbid, the discussion of anything regarding or relating to sexuality. We demonize violence but we refuse to recognize sexual violence with the same lens of deamonization.

People repeat as a mantra that sexual violence is about brutality and power and not about sex, and yes I agree it is about power but it is also about sex. Especially, as we live in a conservative community, one that equates sex with silence. People are less able to talk and speak up about sexual assault as even the mention of topics such as consent and agency is almost negligible.

Men are not taught to control their desires – to ask before fulfilling them.

Nothing in pop culture, books, or music shows them that consent is important, but nor do schools teach them so, and barely any parents have the courage to speak to their children about sex-related topics as if such knowledge will just magically pop in their brains. And, the boy grows up obviously knowledge-deficient in sex related topics, but he has access to the internet and the internet has porn and he is a teenager.

Now, here is the thing about porn; it is so much more than what we see on screens and that teenager sitting in his room with the door closed does not know that there is communication before these scenes are filmed. He also probably only has access to free porn which doesn’t teach him anything about consent and so he ends knowing that he has desires due to sexual oppression and media influence ; he wants to fulfill it but he doesn’t know the correct way to do so.

Women are taught to have no desire.

She grows up covering her sexuality catering to the fact that the boys have desires but she doesn’t recognize that, because all she gets are warnings “that not all boys think the same way” and “not all boys have good intentions”. She doesn’t understand but she caters to that.

And, that is why sexual violence is a thing because no one is willing to teach in conservative societies, and the more conservative we are as a society the more the restrictions about sex and sexuality.

Men end up as rapists and sexual abusers and women end up silent and this is not a balance,  if anything it just proves how in need we are of sexual education. How in need we are of men talking to each other and recognizing that this not right. We need public awareness campaigns. We need parents who are not afraid to talk to their children. We need morality and some sense of moving forward. We cannot continue to watch these crimes occur so frequently and not attempt to change.

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