Thursday, 7 November 2013

Breaking news: Muslim women like sex too. Who'd have thought it?!

After the launch of a Halal sex shop, one which is proving popular with women, Shelina Janmohamed implores society to stop just seeing female Muslims through the prism of a veil.

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An online Halal sex shop has just opened its digital doors out of Turkey. Over its first weekend it received more than 30,000 visitors.
Wait, what? A sex shop for Muslims? And one that is popular with Muslim women?
As a society, our discussions about Muslim women only go as far as whether they should wear hijabs, niqabs and burqas. Sometimes we think veiling is oppressive. Bizarrely, sometimes it’s seen as a bit saucy. But mostly we are just not sure if Muslim women should be allowed to decide for themselves.
And then along comes a story of aphrodisiacs, orgasm creams and Halal lubes that Muslim women (perhaps literally) are sucking up. Whilst this is exciting news for Turkey (will there be a baby boom in July 2014?), it’s not a world first. We’ve already seen plenty of coverage in the Netherlands, Bahrain and even Atlanta, USA. So why is a Muslim sex shop that women love, such big news.
Let’s pan out, and take a look at the landscape of ideas and news coverage when it comes to Muslim women. This week alone, Channel 4 news is running a series on “Britain’s niqab”. Barely weeks ago, Britain had its burqas in a twist at the thought of meeting a doctor who covers her face. (helpful tip: there aren’t any in the UK.) And it’s not just the UK that’s in a tizzy. Belgium passed a law banning the face veil, despite there being only thirty women who the country who wear it. Couldn’t the PM just call them round for a cup of tea and a chat instead to discuss their niqabs?
It’s a bit, erm, kinky, that what captures our imagination about Muslim women is either veiling or sex. Are Muslim women exotic and oriental, an ongoing titillation and sexual fetish for our consumption?
I think the answer is much simpler: Muslim women are depicted simply as bodies, covered or uncovered. Any deviation from this script is heavily policed. Ask Google images about Muslim women and you’ll get pages of black cloaks, with the odd nude women wearing nothing but a face veil. You’ll also find Lady Gaga in a gauzy neon pink burqa, Madonna with a bizarre niqab made of chain mail, and a Diesel Ad of a naked tattooed woman and denim burqa. No, I’m not making this up.
Women as a general rule face the challenge of being seen as nothing but bodies, but the problem is heightened for Muslim women where the entire debate focuses on what we do or don’t wear and whether we are brainwashed into our choices. Surprisingly even self-identified feminists will reduce Muslim women to what they wear, rather than hearing what Muslim women have to say.
Yet the female Muslim experience – including in Halal sex shops – has something experimental to offer women in general. There are women-only spaces created by Muslim women where a celebration of womanhood takes place outside the male gaze.
When so much of the feminist debate is dedicated to understanding what beauty, body and femininity mean when freed from the male gaze, these spaces already exist. These are finally places where ubiquitous sexualisation of the female form is banished. Weddings and parties are the most popular where Muslim women can explore what it means to be beautiful and sexy for themselves, and even do so across generations, without worrying about men.
Online Halal sex shops like this latest one in Turkey extend that courtesy to their customers, taking away the almost pornographic images. The owner of El Asira in the Netherlands, says that many of his customers are women who are not Muslim, because they find the imagery and tone less off-putting than traditional blue imagery. Halal sex shops give the chance to women to explore their sexuality without imposing pornographic norms.
Talking openly about sex and pleasure has only recently lost its taboo status in the West. It’s true that its public discussion in Muslim cultures is still difficult. However, in private among Muslim women, it’s as of much interest as anywhere in the world.
Muslims have form on the subject too, with love, sex and erotic manuals dating as far back to the eighth and ninth century Abbasid Muslim period. Rumi is perhaps the most famous of Muslim poets globally, he wasn’t shy about sexual references. And even the Prophet Muhammad pronounced that to deny women foreplay was a form of oppression.
A popular American Muslim scholar even has this to say: “There is certainly a case for producing an advanced manual in English drawing on Islam’s rich legacy in this field.”
So a sex shop that appeals to Muslim women is fun, important, and just as natural as everyone else’s lust. Stop the presses! Muslim women like sex too. Who’d have thought it?
Shelina Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf - Muslim Woman Seeks the One. She can be found tweeting here. She is the Vice President of Ogilvy Noor, the world's first branding agency for Muslim consumers.

Article from The Telegraph

Friday, 11 October 2013

Tips For Online Dating

1. Be ready to date. If you're not over a previous relationship or anxious and demotivated about going online, you'll self-sabotage. Wait until you're emotionally available, confident in yourself, ready to put in time and energy.
2. Decide what you want first. The site you use, your profile and photo all need to be chosen to suit the partner and partnership you're looking for. So before you ever go online, think carefully through your wants, needs, deal breakers.
3. Ignore the numbers. No site – however huge their database – will bring you results if the site users aren't your kind of people. Plus, the ones with big memberships can overwhelm you with numbers. Instead, trawl sites to find one you personally identify with.
4. Don't sell – invite. Writing your profile shouldn't be a marketing exercise. In fact, research suggests the more you major on "I", the more you'll actively put people off. Instead, welcome in prospective partners by writing warmly about the relationship you'd love to have with them.
5. Choose a welcoming photo not a mug shot. Get a friend or a professional photographer to take hundreds of photos of you smiling and laughing. Then choose the ones where you look the most relaxed and approachable.
6. Don't go shopping. Studies suggest that, when faced with too much choice in partners, we make decisions on irrelevant criteria, such as whether someone wears glasses. Instead, decide who to approach based on whether their profile lets you imagine having a good relationship with them.
7. Get real – and get real early. Don't fall for the spell of email and text - feeling close online says nothing about whether you're compatible in real life. So talk on the phone and meet up as soon as you possibly can.
8. Tell the truth. Most folk on dating sites are genuinely looking for love – if they're not, they go to 'hook-up' or 'married' sites. But many people are also insecure, so tweak age, height or weight to make a good impression. It works best to be truthful – anything else creates a false start to love.
9. Don't expect instant success. In everyday life you may meet hundreds of people at work, socially or by chance before you find someone to date. The same's true online – it can take months of regular searching before you find a match.
10. Ignore bad behaviour. Because online dating's so new, we haven't worked out the courtesies: for example, many people don't respond to approaches made to them. So if you get snubbed, rejected or dumped, ignore it; not your fault.
11. Get support. Find a dating buddy, someone to help you through the tricky stages, support you through disappointment, celebrate your success.
About Susan Quilliam
Susan Quilliam's work in this field spans coaching, writing, broadcasting, training and consulting. Her background is in psychology and counselling.
More tips from Susan Quilliam on her Online Dating Coach website.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Entering the Realms of a Dating World...

Hi all,

I hope you are well, and enjoying your Easter break. I'm currently swanning around the south coast [Reading and London,] catching up with some friends and family.

I thought I'd open up a little today to discuss the dating world..

I don't know if I ever did mention, but I was feeling the pressure of the dating world, and decided to be proactive. I personally don't believe anything comes from luck, and on the contrary believe that good rewards come to those who work hard enough in the first place. Now I know what some of you may think; that I’m tempting fate by attempting some dating websites. However, I've had some success and no horror stories to date.. Touch wood! Why not take matters into your own hands, and see if a reward comes through? It also helped me to broaden my mind towards possible suitors from a range of backgrounds and beliefs. To be fair though, it has done more to cement the truths about what I really want in life more than anything else.

I’ve recommended dating sites to others, some who have scoffed at the idea, others have been more open minded. A primary need for me is to have someone from an Indian background. There I said it. It sounds narrow minded, and it has nothing to do with religion given that I have very little of a religious conscience in my head. It just narrows down to personal tastes, and the fact that I would like to keep what little family relations I have strong, and not disturb the already difficult relationship. They could be Indian-Christian or Indian-Hindu for all my parents care, but an Indian is what I want!

I find dating a chore to some extent. I love the thrill of a new date, meeting over dinner, and the joy of unearthing some new facts about a person that you did not know. I also enjoy the stage of opening up, and seeing yourself relax as time goes on. What I don’t like is the way that the world works. I was explaining to an aunty of mine that to a certain extent, the “finding a partner” conundrum is much harder now than it ever was. We discussed the concept at length, wondering if it was better that your partner was chosen or if having a choice is better.
I’m not one to talk about not having a voice, afterall I did study International Relations, and I do believe in basic rights. However, I hate the flip side. You could date a guy for months, years even. I have many a friend who have dated for more than 5 years for the relationship to break up. Its too easy nowadays to walk away. To exclaim that life is too hard, and that there might be something better out there for you. I’m all for breaking up under extreme circumstances; abuse/rape etc. However, I just don’t believe people try anymore. Why would they? They want things easy on a plate, and if things mess up, hey, it will be fine won’t it?

The worst thing about the whole scene is that I have introduced two boyfriends to my parents at pivitol stages of my relationship. Both relationships have ended, and I pass on no blame onto purely the other half. I do however wish it didn’t work this way. My mother has a huge complex about the fact that I have had boyfriends regardless of the fact that you will find it bloody difficult to meet anyone nowadays who hasn’t had at least one ‘serious’ relationship aged 25 or over.

I guess from my view, I think there should be a common ground. I’d love for someone to walk in and take a risk. For someone to say “yes I do initially like you, lets see how this works and try our absolute hardest to make it work before calling it quits.’ There could be so much you can gain from the experience of trying to work things out. I want to trust that someone would have a mature outlook, a goal in mind that this isn’t just for fun, but that they would love to try and make things work. They would love to walk into a relationship with the sole aim of it being serious from day one. If at that point it fails, couldn’t you at least say you tried rather than the other way round? Isn’t it better to have a half full cup rather than a half empty? And who says you can’t have fun whilst you go along? Isn’t fun what you make of it?

Ah well! I don’t know If I’m wishing for the stars in hoping I'd find someone with that sort of mature outlook, or whether there is someone who exists.

For your update, I have been on 4 amazing dates with a particular guy, in the last 6 weeks. I feel like I’m getting somewhere with someone who could be what I have wanted. On the other hand he could turn around next week and say he found someone who lives closer and he wants to try the easier option. Who knows?? Well for now I’m keeping my glass half full and I’m going to hope for the best. I’ll give it a good go, and try my utmost to make this work. In the very least, if it doesn’t, I know I have no regrets.

The sun is still shining, and I might go for a walk to clear my head.

I hope you have all had an enjoyable bank holiday weekend, and that your looking forward to next week’s royal festivities!

I’m hoping to crash a street party or two! 

Till Next Time.

Thanks to British Asian for this article!