Why not advertise what we preach?
There’s been a debate on The Sunday Leader site about female sexuality, among other things. I thought this comment by Mohottige was interesting (in response to someone else) – ” ‘An educated man will not marry a prostitute from Sri Lanka… Because he has other options’ What about all these educated Sri Lankan men who also have had sex before marriage? And they are many ! (since no woman can loose her sexual virginity without there being a male”prostitute” present). So where should a Sri Lankan girl go to find a male “virgin” to marry? Not in Sri Lanka anyway, beacuse most men here have practised sex before marriage and are thereby, by the standards mentioned by several “thaliban” writers here, simple male prostitutes.” Virginity is a weird thing because it is demanded from women and discouraged in men. Yet, logically, this does not compute. Either both sides need to be virginal, or there needs to be a compromise.
I, personally, think women have to be more conservative sexually because they will get stuck with the baby. For all the talk of free love and women’s lib, it only works in an atmosphere of education, birth control, legal abortion and an array of security assurances for women. In the absence of these things, women are physically weaker and do bear the consequences of sex more heavily, hence they’d probably want to be more conservative.
That said, one cannot advocate this behavior for women’s own protection without A) giving them representation and say in the matter and B) demanding that men behave conservatively as well. In Sri Lanka for example, this is not so. Power is dominated by men and, while we advocate chastity for women, we tolerate open solicitation on the streets, marital rape and worse. There’s plenty of social opprobrium reserved for women that wear short skirts or hang out at night clubs, but almost none for men that flash their genitals or… hang out at night clubs. It’s like, boys will be boys and girls will be raped.
One can say double standard and advocate for equal standards, but that’s not exactly what I mean. I think the standards for men and women are different, based partly on our nature and partly on our culture. I just think the standard should be fair.
I also think that society needs to strike a balance between saying what is good and accommodating what is real. I do think sexual conservatism, sex within marriage, etc are good values. Just because contraception theoretically liberates one from the physical consequences of sex (given usage, it doesn’t), it doesn’t mean simply do whatever you want. ‘Traditional’ sexual mores, however, are not exactly reality, and society needs to be able to stretch its mind to accomodate this or else it will have no control over its body. Cultures have historically preached different things than they practiced, and I think this is actually a good thing. We need to remember what is good, even if we can’t do it. At the same time, however, we need to acknowledge what is real so that human beings are not left outside of the protection of society, which leads to even worse ills.
But, to return to the point, in Sri Lanka we preach very different things to men and women. To men we preach, well, nothing, except get married eventually, and even then OK if you fool around, go to karaoke bars, whatever. Have another drink? To women we preach, don’t go out, don’t have sex, don’t wear shorts, don’t go on the bus, expect to get leered at, get married as soon as possible, give sex whenever your husband wants it, if he hits stay to make the marriage work, etc. It’s not healthy, for either gender methinks. It is quite frankly impossible to remain virginal if men do not behave like gentlemen. If you’re sincere about one, you should call for the other.