Sunday, May 6, 2012

With a Little Help from Marvin and Barry (Part 2 of 2)

'Bride & Groom/Female dominance' - from the series, An Intimate Geography. 
by Aziz Qahtani © 2010 - 2011
http://azizqahtani.com/
From the brilliant work of the young artist Abdulaziz Qahtani, the boundaries of social taboos in our region have been tested. Each and every piece in the series entitled An Intimate Geography speaks volumes, very bold, daring and thought provoking to both Middle Eastern and Western minds. This particular piece is one of my personal favorites. I look at this and cannot help but find it humorously ironic how despite the clear sexual connotations, they stand up straight, indifferent, side by side, not even touching. How very Arab! The shock and awe induced by the imagery is a testament to how we have been conditioned to denounce any connection between culture and the mere essence of sexual activity. So much so that for some people it's hard to shake that idea off when the time comes to do so. Change the cultural background of the subjects to something more Western and it would not have made nearly as bold a statement. But beyond the shock and awe, I wonder if this depiction is more true than we care to believe. Maybe, just maybe, appearances really are deceiving and things aren't as they seem. I admit it is a tantalizing thought; that behind our high walls and closed doors it is in fact the man who submits to the woman (if the woman is smart enough, she could do so and make him believe he's the one in control). Are we that good at keeping up appearances?

We all know that appearances do make a difference to some extent. We tend to analyse things based on appearance and from that form a first impression. The way you present yourself does indeed say a lot about you. This applies to nearly everything from job interviews to the people we meet on a daily basis. But there's a difference between general appearance and looks. There are those who judge potential partners based on looks; either they want someone good-looking or surprisingly they don’t (they know themselves to be the jealous type). To those who insist on a pretty face I tell you looks will fade. looks mean nothing. A message perhaps Disney failed to deliver. From experience I believe that when you get to know someone even as a friend, and you like their character and personality, you somehow get drawn to them and in time they become beautiful in your eyes. You see every imperfection is perfect. It’s an unexplainable phenomenon in my eyes; how genuinely loving a person lets you see them in such a different light. Even with someone who is pretty, with little to no substance beyond it you tend to get bored; what once dazzled you will eventually appear lackluster over time.

Meanwhile, those who deliberately dodge people who are good-looking I find are equally judgmental.  Pretty people need love too. If it’s a matter of jealousy, I commend you for knowing yourself well enough not to put yourself in that position, knowing you will be insanely jealous if you were with someone beautiful. But at the same time, come on! Beautiful or not, it’s the character and conduct of the person that you should judge not their looks. You might be with a total ugo (ugly one) who instead of attracting attention from the opposite sex, would go after it (tends to be the case with ugoes, insecurity issues coupled with the need for validation). How would that be any better?!

Save your impression on their looks, and just go with it. You might be surprised who you end up connecting with, it might not be what you have imagined her/him to be like at all! Don’t put extra limitations on yourself, you’ve already got limited room to maneuver as is.

Equally problematic though, is having insane chemistry or attraction towards someone and not much else. That kind of animalistic, primal attraction is fleeting, not to mention potentially destructive. It’s usually the young and foolish who tend to believe this kind of thing is the real thing. That level of passion could so easily flip into passionate hate and even flip back and forth again and again. This is the kind of chemistry that is what they call unstable. Now let’s go back to the labs; what happens to an unstable chemical compound? When shocked, it leads to a reaction, possibly (likely) an explosive reaction. That kind of explosive attraction will make everything else explosive. We don’t want that now, do we? But if that attraction is there (explosive or not), and everything else seems to have fallen into place also, congratulations! You have won the marital jackpot! But being caught up in a whirlwind of passion is downright dangerous to me.

Now it’s no big secret that ideally, our culture does not condone premarital sex. Because of this ban some people rush to change the pre- to post- to avoid eternity in hell (forgive the bluntness, I mean no disrespect just trying to get to the point). At this point I am left confused though. Because some people really just can’t keep it in their pants, and their religion dictates they do so until marriage, I can’t help but feel sorry for them because that surely is one big moral dilemma right there. Hence they are quick to bind themselves to a partner for life just to avoid sin. This kind of thing makes sense one second and then it just makes no sense the next. So let me get this straight; you decided to make such a monumental life decision and choose your life partner just so you can bump uglies with divine consent, completely neglecting what it means to take on another human being to join you on life’s journey? What about all the other aspects of marriage; is your partner merely a play thing strictly for your pleasure? But then again, it’s either that or premarital sex (or maybe a little self restraint, although easier said than done I’m sure), hence my confusion and sympathy. What I have always wondered though is that if we are a part of a society which does not publicly condone premarital sex, and some people go ahead with it anyway, what happens if they finally do get married? Do they fess up to their soon-to-be partners about their previous sexual 'experience' or do they build the marriage on lies?

The solution to some [Islamic] religious folk is: Muta’a (temporary) marriage. A marriage tailored for those who cannot keep it in their pants, do not feel prepared to embark on a full-on marital life and just do not want to burn in hell. In a nutshell, basically it entails paying a women a dowry to enter a marriage with a predetermined expiration date, she has no rights in this arrangement as the average wife does e.g. not included in his inheritance, not expected to be provided for and any children born will go to him no questions asked. Oh ok, that totally makes sense. Totally. Also another alternative which also acts as a remedy for spinsterhood is Misyar marriage where a woman gives up more or less all marital rights owed to her in a traditional marriage. All she gets is regular visits (at her own home) from her 'husband' who does no provide for her in any way or even live with her. Most of the men resorting to this convenient set up do so to take up a second wife in secret. 

(The term ‘dickheaded’ suddenly holds a whole new meaning in this context)

Now you can agree with this or not, but I personally find that idea revolting. In my eyes it is a legitimized affair or contractual prostitution with consent of a cleric. Concepts such as this are ruining the image and sanctity of marriage; a quick fix to avoid commitment and damnation all-in-one! With such a tempting offer why would anyone settle for an old fashioned marriage, eh? Even more worrying is what happens to the 'wife' after this arrangement is over? This is clearly designed with the male in mind. This type of religiously-condoned thinking is producing a social disease instead of addressing the root of the problem. If our society is having trouble with marriage, there is clearly a problem in how we socialize. Therefore it is a social issue, not a religious one.

It’s about time we briefly address those who simply cannot wait till marriage. Without even thinking twice about it, they just go for it (and go for it, and go for it, etc). I may come off a little self-righteous here but abstinence really is the way to go, one thing Bush Jr. actually got right (a message which fell on deaf ears). Yay abstinence! Some may think saving oneself until marriage is for religious purposes only, completely oblivious of the negative impact it may have on your sex life and sex drive once you do get married. An experience you are only meant to share with your other half you have already shared with someone else (or multiple someones), consequently tainting what should be a unique experience between husband and wife. 

And girls don't think if you spread your legs it's a done deal and he WILL marry you. The definition of gullible right there. If you do it just for the heck of it, hey, power to ya! Just don't think for a second that doing so will guarantee a ring. That is literally all I'm willing to say on this point, it's just that stupid. 

So consider saving yourself for your first, your last, your everything. Now with the help of the one and only Mr. Barry White....let's boogie!


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