I would like to meet the people who wangled the pipe dream of the “shareef ghar ki larki”, literally “daughter of a pious household” syndrome and to show them how such a concept, under the right circumstances of patriarchal suffocation, can engender a rogue badass woman.
Before I introduce them to such a rogue charlatan element of society, I would like them to know what it is that they are asking for; I have a feeling they might not themselves have grasped the idea of a “shareef larki”. Enter Chandni.
Several years back, during my undergraduate years, I met a young Muslim student from Southeast Asia (thankfully not Pakistan) who was preparing for her wedding to a white American convert. She informed me that she was worried about being inadequate towards her husband's sexual needs as she was circumcised. For all obvious reasons, after having spurted my café mocha on her crisp blue top, I asked her, “so, you have a male genitalia? Crap! Have you been harbouring illicit desires towards me? Are you having them right now? I mean I'll pay for the dry cleaning.” She laughed, but in all seriousness asked me, “surely you know how some of us are circumcised? It's the right thing to do for us good Muslim women.” Me, sipping my coffee incessantly, “wait, what? Muslim women are supposed to be circumcised? Says who? Since when?” “You had the best circumcision of all time but, Imma go to town on my husband when I get married!” I said faking a Kanye West accent and a wink.
Fast forward some twenty years, and I realize that the concept of being a “shareef ghar ki larki”, or a “good”, “chaste” and “pure” woman is embedded so deep in our collective psyches that we judge ourselves, (harshly so) to be “pure” only if we have undergone a crippling amputation of our bodies and simultaneously our spirits. Female genital mutilation is a pervasive practice in several societies designed to keep women celibate and subjugated. It is akin to mutilating a woman’s libido and a vile attack on her being human. Thanks to my secular but profoundly Muslim upbringing, (because it's not an oxymoron to be a secular Muslim), I wasn’t forced to bear the tiresome-libido-breaking burden of a ‘Shareef Larki’, ‘pious woman’ title upon my not so broad shoulders like the Titan Atlas. I was free to display a skillset on badassery on LinkedIn.
The consequences of such an inhumane act on my friend as a child were such that she ended up being divorced due to her inability to have a child and chronic episodes of depression. The perpetrators who inculcated the idea that “it's the right thing to do” have now realised that they ruined her life. Sadly that's one realisation too late where we have a million more (and increasing) to go.
I would like to rename female genital mutilation to ‘Female Libido Genocide’. According to medical professionals, this practice has absolutely no health benefits but does contribute to a garden variety of side effects such as necrotising fasciitis, fatal bleeding, gangrene and tetanus, to name a few, depending on the combo of FGM offered to you from the menu of choices. Yep, there isn't one form of FGM out there but not to worry it comes with fries. Luckily there isn't one uniform level of hell available to its perpetrators either. And that, mi amigos does NOT come with fries. One of the biggest and most ignored side effects is remaining emotionally compromised for the rest of your life and one woman’s life irreparably ruined. Although FGM does not have its roots in Islam and is carried out in many non-Muslim societies as well, it remains an abhorrent, repugnant and inhumane practice in Muslim societies.
The idea of FGM emanates from an inherent need by troubled and insecure men to subjugate women. In doing so they are turning them into half human automatons for their sadistic pleasure. Their fragile masculinity finds itself challenged by every non FGMed woman walking the planet in peace. What is of bigger concern is that women have been indoctrinated to perform this vile surgery as a gesture of goodwill as is evident from the recent case of the husband-wife doctor duo in the United States. They have convinced themselves that they are the guardians of the galaxy. Oh I'm sorry, I do apologise, I didn't elaborate that in their constricted world view the “galaxy” refers to a woman’s vagina. Also known as the “temple of doom” from their point of view. I would like to offer them a freebie, a catch phrase should they decide to run their commercial on cable television. Here it goes; “providing men pleasure since 1789, one female libido genocide at a time, while rotting in hell every clitoral snip at a time.”
Humour aside, both men and women need to raise consciousness and voices against this crime towards women. Ladies, we need to do a better job at raising our boys and take responsible ownership of our own sexuality. Have a sexual day! I meant, wonderful. Or did I?
The author is Washington DC based Canadian of Pakistani heritage. She is currently working on a book on issues of sexuality and other things taboo amongst Muslims.