By SHAHEEN HASHMAT
I’ve been trying for a long time, a couple of months now in fact, to write a blog about sexuality and what it means to me as a Pakistani woman born and raised in the United Kingdom. The deadline I set for myself whizzed past weeks ago, as I’ve been having trouble with it. Probably because I’m having trouble with sex itself. You see, I haven’t actually had any for over two and a half years.
When my last relationship failed horribly, I vowed to myself that I would not sleep with another person until I felt completely comfortable, secure, and enthusiastic about having sex. It’s something I have never achieved, despite having over a dozen partners.
I have now reached a point where all the self-induced orgasms in the world could not fully relieve this tension inside of me. I’m pretty sure that it’s also led, in part, to my depression. I cry often, because I am purposely denying myself a completely natural part of being human. So why do it?
I want to sleep with someone who respects me enough not to lie to me about what it is they want. I want to sleep with someone who isn’t cheating on someone else. I want to sleep with someone who doesn’t think I’m a slut because I want to talk about the type of sex I like, or who doesn’t have expectations about what I’ll be willing or unwilling to do based on that. I want to sleep with someone who will go on a journey with me, one based on honesty, experimentation, adventure, and love.
I no longer care whether that experience lasts one night, 10 years, or the rest of my life. But apparently, I’m dreaming. I’m told that I should just get out there; that good sex happens with time after a certain period of bad sex; that if I want emotional satisfaction, then I’m going to have to settle for mediocre love-making.
I guess in some ways the fact that I haven’t yet done this says I still have hope; I still believe I can meet someone who can help me take care of business in the bedroom, as well as someone with whom I can share a mutual respect based on honesty. But there is something darker holding me back, and it concerns what a lot of people consider a grey area when it comes to sexual consent.
Many years back, I took a three-month trip to the Canary Islands where I taught English and theater in schools. I was about 19 and restless in my relationship with a man 13 years my senior. I had gone with a friend and we both looked forward to partying and exploring the islands. One night we met a friendly barman who knew some guys from the UK and we all hit it off. They also had a car and knew all the best clubbing spots on the island.
We had an incredible night. We partied in an open club on the beach, in the car on the way to more places where the doormen knew them as VIPs, and they even took us to one club that had streams full of fish and flowers running through the actual building. I was comfortable, I was having fun, and these guys seemed like they were just up for making some new friends and getting drunk together. By sunrise, I was feeling great, and looked forward to getting home so I could sleep it off and start again.
When the guy who was driving me home took the wrong turn, I told him so, but he said there was another place he knew that we would love. I looked at my friend and we both thought, “What the hell, why not?” They took us to a stunning beach, completely deserted, with nothing but beautiful scenery all around and stars above. I wasn’t wildly in lust with the guy who had been paying attention to me for the whole night, but I wasn’t going to say no to a kiss or a fumble in this beautiful place either. My friend took a walk with everyone else leaving David and me on our own. I was drunk and laughing, and we started kissing.