On My Sexual Frustration as an Arab Woman: Stories We Haven’t Revealed About “Casanova”
By: Aya Abdel Rahman
How many times in our lives have we heard the phrase sexual frustration?
This word is frequently recurring in the lives of Arabic-speaking societies, but in these societies, it usually refers to men.
Our society pays great attention to men’s sexual frustration, encouraging them to marry at the lowest cost so that they “don’t fall prey to it.”
On the other hand, it besieges women, scaring them with this “bogeyman”, while turning them into “obedient wives, skilled in the art of love, and considerate of their husbands’ physical needs, whatever these needs are”!
Religious legacies are used to intimidate them from refusing to have sex with their husbands, no matter how tired or unwilling they are.
Under the pretext of this “frustration”, polygamy is also legislated, to satisfy the “lust of men” which “surpasses that of women, as they believe”!
While marital rape crimes are repeatedly happening under the so-called “legitimate right”.
All these practices indicate that our society is obsessed with men’s sexual frustration.
How would he overcome it? And how can he have a pleasurable sex life?
If he marries a second wife or even commits a sexual crime, frustration is the pretext by which they justify his actions. And soon everyone would say: “Young men are excused”!
But what about women and their sexual frustration?
What about my desires as a woman, in a society that excuses a man for any sexual behavior, and considers it maturity and virility, even if it were a crime?
While it surrounds me and other women with dozens of restrictions and legacies, which exclude us from our sexual desires even through self-enjoyment.
The way to pleasure starts from the self. But…
Our relationship with sex begins early. And during adolescence, our hormones surge, our bodies change, and we get curious about exploring ourselves.
But our social legacies prevent us from doing so. The absence of sex education affects us as girls and women greatly in adolescence.
We may fall for inherited social superstitions, which fill our lack of knowledge about our bodies in the worst way, in the absence of sound knowledge.
There are many myths about our sexuality as girls since we begin to grow up.
The first myths that haunt us are hymen, self-pleasure, and sexuality.
They begin intimidating us about the hymen, associating it with “our respect, our honor and our entitlement to life.”
Then our whole life becomes centered around “preserving it”, and we fear any movement, injury, exercise, or any sexual practice, no matter how simple, for the protection of the precious membrane!
Then comes the intimidation of self-enjoyment, for superstitious reasons such as “it robs women of the pleasure of having sex with their partners.”
Other myths consider that self-enjoyment reduces girls’ and women’s sexual enjoyment, preventing their orgasms with their husbands.
Add to this linking self-enjoyment to various diseases, including “infertility, blindness, arthritis, and kidney diseases”!
All these myths are incessantly woven into our minds, trapping us in adolescence, to alienate us from our bodies.
As a result, for me, exploring self-enjoyment had always been coupled with feelings of guilt and shame.
If we decide to explore our organs or practice self-enjoyment, we are haunted by the fear of not being able to have a healthy sex life in the future.
Therefore, we live waiting for the green light, i.e., marriage, in the hope of arriving at what we missed, and finally enjoying sex.
Our sexual frustration begins in adolescence because we don’t understand the body in which we live. We don’t understand its needs, and how it works.
Besides, we live captive to superstition and fear, hoping that marriage will bring about a breakthrough, and we will finally have the right to enjoy sex.
However, this story may not end well.
Dead marriage. surprises after “thee” night
In a society that rejects extramarital sex, women enter the marriage system with the same sexual desires as men, after many years of sexual “fasting”.
With the absence of societal sex education and the treatment of women as “objects of pleasure” in the sexual process, many lack awareness of women’s sexuality and desires.
This threatens their enjoyment within the marriage enclave and opens the way to sexual frustration.
“Throughout our engagement, he would drown me in love words, and write me poems telling me that he was waiting for the day when we would consummate our marriage. So, our marriage was anticipated with hopes and longing. However, frustration was the title of our sexual communication from the first night.”
This is how Karima (pseudonym, 27) summed up her sexual experience with her husband. She is the mother of a one-year-old child.
She told Sharika Wa Laken: “It’s my misfortune to have been circumcised as a child, and this crime has affected my sexual enjoyment.”
“After years of psychologically suffering the effects of circumcision, which scared me of my body, I learned to explore myself to realize the limits of my pleasure,” she said.
She explained: “I learned that I need certain caresses, in a certain way and for a certain period, and I told my husband so that we can resolve any problem. But our rhythms were out of sync”.
She noted that she felt he was “bored, impatient, and cannot bear the long time I needed in the relationship.”
She revealed that she “learned to pretend orgasm to rest from the burden of sex so that he doesn’t think I’m cold.”
“At first I felt guilty, but over time I only felt sad and frustrated. Sex is all about frustration for me.”
Education and awareness stand in the way of our sexual desires and feelings
When the husband lacks awareness about his wife’s sexual needs is a major obstacle to her sexual satisfaction, especially in a culture of “shame” that teaches girls to conceal their desires.
Society also asks them not to talk openly about their lack of enjoyment in the relationship, or to demand that the problem be solved, while men are given the right to do so.
But this is not the only problem that may cause sexual frustration for women in marriage.
“My problem with my marriage is me, I accept anything my husband does and I don’t ask him to do what I like, or I reject what bothers me,” Nahla (pseudonym, 30) told Sharika Wa Laken.
She explained that “at the beginning of our marriage, he used bold words during our relationship, and the words hurt me because I only heard them as insults during harassment in the streets. So I associated them with my feeling of violation.”
She said that to his shock, she cried once during sex, and she could hardly explain to him that his words bothered her.
“But there are many things that I do not speak about even though he will understand. Inside me, there is a giant barrier that makes me gather the words I want to say in my head only, but I do not pronounce them, and I do not know how to overcome this,” concluded Nahla.
Compatibility and sexual frustration
Sexual incompatibility is at the forefront of the breakdown of marriages.
The education we receive as Arab girls and women stands as an undeniable barrier to our sexual desires and feelings.
This education suppresses our sexuality for many years until we are unable to deal with it.
And when we get married, we suddenly have to liberate this sexuality and communicate it with the husband.
However, things don’t always go peacefully!
On the other hand, the husband’s false societal culture may stand in the way of his wife’s pleasure. This is what Iman (pseudonym, 32) shared with us.
She told Sharika Wa Laken, about her experience, saying, “Despite getting along with my ex-husband during the engagement stage, and feeling that we were very sexually compatible, things changed after marriage.”
“I was surprised that he was full of misconceptions many masculine people hold about women. Like I should always be ready for sex, and I’m not supposed to refuse it unless I’m very sick. And I should be open for any strange position or experience he wants.”
“Dealing with him was difficult and exhausting, and I felt that I was fulfilling his sexual fantasies without him stopping for a moment to ask himself or me about what I wanted, and whether I was enjoying it or not.
They got divorced in less than a year due to a lack of sexual compatibility.
Iman explained that “I did not find a reason to be patient with him as long as he holds to this mentality which considers me a tool for his pleasure while being mindless of mine.”
But beyond marriage, the world of extramarital relationships is also rife with sexual frustrations for women.
On sexual frustration in romantic relationships
As a woman liberated from the mold of stereotypical relationships in Eastern society, some people keep telling me how they perceive my love and sexual life to be easier.
I can have unlimited pleasure with barely any effort, and I don’t have trouble finding a partner.
For them, sex only requires a woman to be “liberated” and “doesn’t mind having sex, then she’ll get a boundless number of men”!
I remember dating several men while being open to proceeding with the relationship.
But I often ran into traditional men who aspired to traditional relationships whilst clinging to societal legacies I reject.
This is their right. But they always insisted on “fixing” my thoughts forcibly to suit theirs.
The other type I was bumping into were ostensibly liberal men, and we might have had similar ideas on certain issues.
But when it comes to emotional and sexual relationships, they’re not much different from any masculine man who considers women as property and objects of pleasure.
This type of man does not encourage the development of their relationship to any kind of intimacy, because they will treat me with the traditional mentality, which even if it celebrates my liberation because of “potential sexual benefit”, will overlook treating me as a complete human being, a wholesome counterpart, a person not any less than them, standing on an equal footing, with the right to decide on the type of the relationship, and the form of pleasure I want from it.
Then I bump into a “liberal” man, but in fact, he wants to get the benefits of “casual” relationships from passion, pleasure, and sex, with the privileges of traditional relationships, which make him the head who prevails in the relationship and navigates it wherever he wishes. He does not treat me as a partner.
My friends’ stories are no different from mine. Sex is not an easy step for women, no matter how open-minded they are.
A man stands in the way of any pleasant sexual relationship, because of his thoughts and the way he acts in the relationship.
And all of these are frustrations that precede what might happen when we enter the realm of physical intimacy.
Liberal, but “Mr. Control Freak”.
Farida (pseudonym, 30) remembers the day she decided to have sex for the first time with her boyfriend. But she was surprised by his refusal, despite their open and unconventional relationship.
Farida told Sharika Wa Laken: “I told my friend that I would like to have sex with him, but he flatly refused. He thought that as a virgin, as he put it, I would become extremely attached to him because of this experience, and I would receive it with exaggerated romanticism, which would oblige him to stay with me forever!”
But she added that “all of this was not true. It was an experience, just like any other experience, but his refusal frustrated me because I did not imagine that he would treat me as if I did not understand my feelings, and I did not know what I wanted.”
Mona, 33, said of her experience: “I met a nice guy and we admired each other, and things developed between us into a casually sexual relationship, where we explored the possibility of our compatibility.”
“I was surprised by him preventing me from getting to know other people while retaining this right to himself. He started commenting on my clothes, how sexy I looked, and that I needed to dress modestly.”
“He started commenting on my male friends as well, all the way insisting that we were in a casual relationship. He wanted to be Mr. Control Freak, with all the privileges of a liberated man, but without any rights for me. I broke up with him unhesitatingly.”
“The ignorant Casanova”
When a relationship develops into the framework of sex and intimacy, we often run into problems and incompatibility or need time to sync our performance.
This requires partners to be understanding, cultured, and able to communicate. In the absence of this, sexual frustration haunts us again.
Noura, 26, tells us that “sex is an essential part of a healthy relationship for me, and when I’m sure that I am fully compatible with my partner, I consider taking the relationship to the next stage. Because I hold to this belief, I got involved in several relationships.”
“But I was surprised by a very poor sexual performance from my partners and a lack of understanding of the simplest ABCs of female pleasure, along with a lack of communication or consideration, and not asking about my enjoyment. No matter how different the partners were, I found that they all had that common trait.”
“No matter how hard I tried to communicate myself and tell them about the problem, I was surprised by a complete rejection of what they called my criticism of their performance. Each of them thought he was the best copulator ever.”
She also explained that she experienced frequent sexual frustrations even in casual relationships, “which I can simply get out of without conflicts, unlike divorce.”
She considers that: “The absence of sex education affects men much more than they think.”
Beware of the braggarts.
Nada, 30, recounted a similar experience to Sharika Wa Laken. “I had a relationship with a young man who brags a lot about his sexual relations. “He used to tell me about a thousand whims and adventures he had with dozens of women,” she said. The frustration started when we agreed to have sex, and I asked him to wear a condom, but he utterly refused it using the pretext that it reduces pleasure.”
“He also prepared baby oils to use as an intimate lubricant, although their use is dangerous for the vagina because it infects it. When we started it, I was surprised to find out that he had a problem that prevented him from having a long enough erection. My night with him turned into hell, not because I didn’t enjoy it by all means, but because he kept telling me more about his whims and wild nights, in which all his partners orgasmed.”
“In the morning I left, and put him on the block list, so I wouldn’t have to remember those tragic hours with him. Since then, I have avoided any man who flaunts his relationships and virility, because he is most likely pretentious.”
Sarah, 29, told Sharika Wa Laken, “I got into a casual relationship with a young doctor, and I was excited about having sex with him because he is a doctor, and he will understand the woman’s body more than other men. But the relationship with him was a tragedy in every sense of the word.”
“He didn’t care about any kind of foreplay. He was focused on showing off his virility, and how strong and capable he was! He never asked me if I was enjoying myself.”
“He was surprised when I broke up with him after what happened, and he attacked me and said that I was cold and did not understand pleasure. He didn’t even bother to ask me about the problem and what bothered me.”
The role of sex education and awareness in combating sexual frustration
Whether we are teenagers, married, or in any form of relationship, as Arab girls and women we are prone to scads of sexual frustration.
The estrangement between us and our bodies begins early, and we are deprived of any healthy expression of our sexuality and pleasure.
On the other hand, many men don’t take our sexuality into account when they think about sex, which makes them unpleasant sexual partners.
Therefore, the solution may start with proper sex education from childhood, and changing the social concepts that regard sex as a taboo that we cannot discuss or approach, except in a certain manner, in a certain relationship, and in a certain way.
All those fences that we build around sex, one of the most pleasurable human activities, don’t break down easily, or they may never do.
We may find that, even if we are liberated from the values of society and the catalog of its relationships, there remain many barriers within us, standing between us, our bodies, and our sexual pleasure.
Therefore, sex education for young girls, sexual awareness for adult girls, and the belief that our bodies only belong to us, and are solely our rights help us massively. As does the understanding that we have the right to choose, evaluate, and simply abandon our partners if they don’t understand us, and share with us as we understand and share with them.
These are probably the first steps towards a healthy and beautiful intimate life for many women.
A life where we don’t suffer from loneliness, and don’t feel frustrated every time we put our heads on the pillow and remembered our last intimate moments.