I had a "strange" dream this morning...
I saw an Arab woman, she was Iraqi, wearing a beautiful embroidered Turquoise Caftan, and a lovely pair of ear rings made of precious gemstones, she looked all made up, and no where to go.
I remember seeing her seated in a corner of the room, with a closed window behind her, all alone, waiting...
I thought to myself why is this woman so abandoned and then I understood that she was debating within herself, if she should accept to meet a lover or not...I also understood in the dream that she was married but her husband had just kept her like a piece of furniture, and she was to wait faithfully for his return from his endless philandering - his affairs with other women.
In the dream, my first reaction was - she should not go and meet her lover, it is wrong. But then I changed my mind, and like some voice said to me - it is perfectly fine if she meets her lover, her husband is not living up to his deal of the "contract".
I woke up and felt perfectly fine with this. I thought about this dream the whole day...and allowed some free association...
I realized on some profound level, that for most Eastern women, Arabs included, they are really deprived from their OWN sexual pleasures. Meaning that -- from an early age, they have been socialized to remain virgins for the one man, the one and only - who 9 times out of 10 is no virgin himself. Having married, finally - 9 times out of 10 to have sex lawfully (forget all the other stuff about love and romance), the chances of their husbands philandering are another 9 times out of 10.
Not only that - the whole cultural surroundings keep hammering that it is "normal" for a man to do so, he is after all a man and has this unlimited reservoir of sexual needs, implying of course that she has none or very little and she is then urged to practice patience, much patience and much waiting - if she wants to keep her marriage. It is also implied that he will eventually come around...
Meanwhile, she must keep her own sexual needs on freeze. Literally. While her donkey of a husband is busy fucking his mistress, his concubine, his second wife, and God knows who else...
Entertaining any thought of having an affair is strictly taboo, even though some do transgress the taboo and the risks they run are enormous if they get caught. Really enormous. So basically her life is on hold and he (the donkey called a husband) is holding it...until, if ever, he comes around...
So it all boils down to the following - her sexuality belongs to him. First she must be a virgin, second she must be faithful no matter what, and third in the eventuality of him not satisfying her sexual needs, then she is to simply forget that they exist. Basically she has no ownership of anything but he does...not God, but he.
Now all the above put in simple terms -- and things are slightly more complicated than that, are all justified in the name of Religion.
All of it is justified and rationalized in the name of Religion.
Yet the religious text says nothing about :
- a woman having to be a virgin.
- it condemns adultery i.e extra marital sex for both genders.
- the maximum waiting period is one month with no sex, provided the husband is healthy.
- men are urged to satisfy their female partners (many Hadiths from the Prophet to that effect)
- Surat after Surat from the Koran urges men not to leave their wives suspended - neither married nor divorced.
- if the husband wants a second wife (for X reason - will not go into them right now) he is to ask permission from his wife first. (A parenthesis : Oddly enough, even Bin Laden asked permission from his first wife before marrying a second one. The first wife chose for him his second wife.
And I have more examples from the religious texts - and none of them condone the neglect of women. NONE.
Adding, the above was formulated in a different historical context. Furthermore, it is assumed all things being equal, these are the Divine prescriptions to follow... I repeat - all things being equal...
Getting back to my dream and this woman's toying with the idea of meeting her lover...short of divorcing the donkey (another ball game altogether) - should she or should she not ?
Must she stay in that serail or must she allow herself to live her sexual passion from which she was intentionally deprived ?
Well the voice in my dream said - There is no harm in doing so.
On another level, the dream may also mean that this woman is married to the culture of sexual (Life) deprivation and she is to allow herself to leave the serail of her mind.