Moon Taslima Sheikh
(Translated by Tinni Rahman)
It’s a danger if a woman’s body gets excited; it’s a danger as well if it doesn’t. The female body is like a flute if it’s tuned in otherwise it’s a broken drum. If the woman’s body desires, it’s a monster; if it doesn’t then it’s a dead snake. I was talking about our thinking and a few important things about the female body.
I want to say ‘the timing’ of sexuality, productivity, children and physical desire is less dependent on the biological facts and more on the social decisions. The decisions are made before. And bestowed upon women. Everything is decided by the society. These all are our preconceived ideas.
I was talking about menopause and women’s sexual ability. The funny thing is, how we have to explain about the female body, butthe questions never rise for a male’s body.
Menopause is such a chapter in a woman’s life. In this chapter, a woman is usually out casted in society. In this time women are identified as ‘problem animal’ and sympathized and her sexual life is sent to grave. Be a grandmother, midwife, nanny, and manager-housekeeper as long as you live. Your life has ended.
We hear a lot of young people trolling about menopause. If someone is behaving particularly irritated, we hear others saying, what? Are you on menopause? And everybody laughs.
But nobody shows any particular interest or inquisitiveness about what actually happens at this time. It is important to understand women during menopause, it is important to love and care, but at the same time it is needed to be done by knowing what it is. We must know it is a special situation and temporary. She will overcome it and become normal again.
When a 12-year-old baby girl first gets period, she needs care and understanding, a woman during menopause also needs support during this transition period.
Speaking the truth, from the ancient times, the female body is shown to be a problematic ‘mystery’. Most of the issues are blindly tabooed and a metaphor of sober-ism-vulgar-ism has been created as an un-publishable subject. It is made to be believed that woman and their vagina is a curse. It is there only to be used for a special purpose. Childbirth and man’s sexual pleasure is given importance. But only as much as they need and after their need is fulfilled, an explanation is given from the man’s perspective where the need of a woman is not acknowledged. The feeling of a woman is not acknowledged here. Even the feelings and desires of a woman are suppressed and formed.
The woman herself also accepts the theory given by others. Psychologically, she thinks, that my life is till this and here is the end of my road. She never gave importance to what she felt, feels.
A woman’s body, sexuality is sacrificed for re-productivity rather than herself. Even modern woman can’t think about enjoying her physical needs by knowing own body. She can have physical need after 50; even the thought of it appears to be like sin. Somewhere in the past somebody brainwashed that getting period is the start of womanhood and the end of period is the end of womanhood. This body is not hers at all; it is sacrificial for other’s needs.
Mostly if I want to write about this topic, I have to write a little bit about female body. How much do we know about a female body? Do we know the language of this body? Map? If we can analyze the female body without having preconceived gender ideas, then we can analyze freely and only then will we be able to see the needs of a female body’s ability, workability and desire without objectifying it, not before that.
A woman holds her body naturally. No sense of should or should not limit her. We will be able to see much closer if we see it from this perspective. In this issue, we need to separate a woman’s social gender from biological self.
A woman gets her period at the age of 11 on an average and it can continue till 53 (in an average). It can vary due to time, weather or climate. It can also vary due to physical and genetic reasons. Period usually comes every 28days and stay from 4 to 7 days. The first part of re-productivity in a female body is initially completed in this process.
As I am not an expert, I will state the subject of period and uterus in a general note. The upper part of uterus is connected with ovaries that have two fallopian tubes and these two tubes hold the uterus in place and connect with the ovaries. Millions of eggs lie in the ovaries. When the eggs are matured in ovaries they come to the uterus through the tubes and wait there for a few days to meet the sperms of males. The woman’s eggs and the man’s sperm meet there by sexual intercourse. But in case of no sexual intercourse or artificial control, the eggs start breaking. After the waiting time they start coming out through the vagina with the surrounding walls. Their vehicle is blood and so it looks like blood. In simple words this is menstruation.
To be noted, I am sorry if I have provided any wrong information by misunderstanding. I am not even an expert in this subject. What I want to say here is the depth of relation between menopause and ovaries is much less important than the relation between ovaries and sexual life. Thewoman who never had children might not be unhappy sexually. There is no need to suppress a beautiful sexual life of a woman only for a special circumstance.
The function of the organs that control menopause and the sexual organs are different in a woman’s body. There are also a few unique sexual organs of women’s body whose sole purpose is sexual pleasure. Those men do not have. In Arab and Africa these organs are mutilated in childhood so that the women never understand sexual pleasure.
The patriarchal society has always been afraid of women’s sexual pleasure. They had been scared because women’s sexual ability and pleasure is very deep and multiple. The sexual capability of women is a lot more than men. The intercourse time is also longer for women. A woman’s sexual desire and stability is more than a man. A woman can be sexually able and active a lot longer than a man. Menopause doesn’t destroy this capability.
Hormone production of the body comes to an end; low level of estrogen and progesterone changes some physical and psychological behavior. Hormone therapy, consultation with the doctor and love for the near ones can help them to move forward and start a new life. Many women see the life after menopause as a new chapter in their sexual life. They don’t take it as an end rather thinks it as a problem free time to enjoy.
Lets see why sex life becomes better after menopause,
Many western women think of sex in this time to be better as periods don’t bother them anymore. They are not scared of getting pregnant. Their sex life is carefree. And as there are no small children in the house, their sex life becomes uninterrupted.
Many women say they don’t have to use contraceptive during this time. Those who control pregnancy without using contraceptives will always have to think about the time of period to avoid unwanted pregnancy. And so sex comes with a lot of stress, which doesn’t make sex spontaneous. Sex is enjoyable a lot more if it comes stress free. They think of this period to be the best also because it’s ‘no pad’ and ‘no period’.
I wrote about small children above. The sex life of the parents of small children is very difficult because they are physically exhausted. Tiredness and exhaustion make their libido low. After 50 their sex life comes to normal.
During this time, professional stress is minimized. Stress reduces sex desire. That’s why in case of young couples, stress is a known factor for bad sex life. After 50 women don’t have that kind of stress. They become very much concentrated.
They get a feeling of relaxation during this time. Children grow up. Professional life gets settled. They become more interested in themselves. Their relationship with themselves becomes very deep and qualitative, that makes her more life oriented and she gets more time to think about sex life differently.
She starts understanding that sex is for herself. It is not for anyone or anything. Experts say, their sexual performance also becomes liberated.
The only problem that’s notable after menopause is vaginal dryness. It is seen as an obstacle in a woman’s sex life. But a lot of experts in the western countries see it as a positive thing. To face the challenge of vaginal dryness they are suggested lubricant. It’s not seen to be used during normal situations. Lubricant brings out a lot of new experiences for a lot of women. That comes as new experiences of happiness.
Women of the western world have shared their experiences claiming these. The body of the women of our country is not different. They become ‘nun’ or ‘saint’ at 50 by declaring end of their sexual life because of the social norms. They never could become the master of their own body. They will accept it to be their destiny and become ‘saint’ by accepting what others asked them to do.
Why 50, at no age, our women learn to know about their own body. Even they need screen in bathroom during bathing. We pour water on ourselves while in clothes. That doesn’t clean us and it becomes difficult to take off the clothes and that is a minor problem considering the ignorance of not knowing our own body. Her body remains unknown and stranger to her. Living with the body yet keeping it a dark kingdom of faraway.
If we want to love ourselves, we have to know our body and mind. We have to grow an intimate relationship with ourselves. How can we love ourselves if we don’t know? How would we know that this is my life! Every bit is mine.
I will not let go of the topic. I started writing about menopause and women’s questionable sexual ability. A very little is done today.
The original article was published in Bengali language in Women Chapter Bengali site by Moon Taslima Sheikh
Moon Taslima Sheikh originally hails from Bangladesh and is currently living in Sweden. A social democrat, Ms Sheikh is actively involved in Swedish politics. She studied law from Stockholm University in Sweden. She is also a prolific blogger/writer and writes on issues such as women’s rights and perils of religious fundamentalism.
The article has been translated by Tinni Rahman, a design professional . A multi-talented individual, her passions include travelling and learning new languages. She speaks 5 languages and traveled extensively across Asia and Europe.