Bored and frustrated with the mundane topic of politics, we decided to change to a more interesting subject. “Let’s talk about sex!” someone offered. And why not? With a group of women, attempting to escape the pressures of their daily routine and indulge in some quality time with friends, it was a suggestion that met instant approval. The company included 10 women in their 30s who were either married, divorced or single.
After a little nudging and coaxing it was clear that despite our mature ages, sex was something that we didn’t fully understand. We all still had old misconceptions about a topic that had been labeled as taboo our entire lives. Tossed into marriage with little information as to what to expect, many confessed that their high expectations had been shot down or slowly destroyed by reality.
“Do you share details of your sex life with your friends?” I asked. “Yes!”, “No!”, “That’s a bad idea!” were some of the answers.
Agreeing that our mothers had abandoned us when it came to sexual education and long before Google existed, we had come to the conclusion that our sources of knowledge were either stories from friends who had gotten married first or cheap sex videos that had been discreetly passed around. In other words, it was either one person’s personal experience (good or bad) or cheap porn. Not the best options.
But as we dug deeper into the matter we noticed that without talking to our friends about it, we wouldn’t really know what happened behind closed doors in Egypt. The Internet may now offer answers to everything, but when it comes to Egyptian relationships, not even the mighty God called Google can provide answers. In Egypt everything is complicated.
“My mom had always told me never to talk about my sex life with friends”, said Fatima, “she said that, that would ruin my relationship with my husband because my friend might offer some bad advice. In reality, it was because I opened up to friends that I realized that I really did have a problem. I thought it was normal to lose interest in sex after having kids but after years of no intimacy, I was becoming edgy and thinking I was the abnormal one. My husband had lost interest and I believed that sex was only for newlyweds”.“Yes, but I had heard stories before I got married from my friends about the wedding night and how sex for the first time was extremely painful”, admitted Laila, “I never forgot that word and I was petrified. So petrified that I had to lose my virginity on an operating table under full anesthesia! Then years later I was told by a therapist that what I was suffering from was an emotional condition called vaginismus, and that I should have been psychologically treated for it”.
Negative influence? It upped the score for the ‘let’s not share’ team. We talked about women who flaunted their sex lives to cover up the fact that it was non-existent, we discussed men with over zealous libidos and others without, we talked about porn and its unrealistic expectations and we exchanged information from years of accumulated experience. One particularly wise woman came up with a brilliant idea, while hard to implement, sounded like the best solution.
“A smart woman knows how to filter information”, she said,“listen, listen and listen some more. Gather different information and different point of views, then select what makes sense to you and do your own research. There might be no right and wrong answers – only answers that work for you and what you need in your life.”
That made a lot of sense! Would we really do it? Probably not but at least it was all going to be part of the learning curve and how better to learn than from our own mistakes?
*Names have been changed