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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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Sex in the South and East Asian/Arab Communities

Uploaded: Feb 25, 2016
I am not claiming to be an expert on sex in the South and East Asian and Arab communities. Yet with the mix of nationalities of people in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, it means that there are many South and East Asian and Arab couples here. And I’m seeing and hearing about sexual trends that are causing great difficulty for couples. I’ve made a point to speak with other health care professionals about it, and they, too, are seeing the same issues around sex. I look forward to others sharing their views on this as well.

At Connect2 Marriage Counseling, we see a lot of couples who are Hindu or Muslim, as well as others. I want to be careful not to speak for you. I hope you will speak up, though.

In couples counseling, I am seeing complicated sexual issues in these populations (of course we see sexual issues in every population – I wonder if these are more culturally based). I am aware of more unconsummated marriages, lack of intercourse, lack of desire, inability to get or keep an erection, sexual difficulties such as painful intercourse, and even a number of pregnancies by turkey baster. Each time the couple tries to have sex and it doesn’t go well, the anxiety increases for the next time. And so it goes. The stakes keep rising with no help in sight.

Given the birthplace of the Kama Sutra and a great deal of other erotic writing and art, this has been a surprise to me. It’s become clear, however, that sex and women’s bodies are taboo topics. Many of the women have no idea what menstruation is when it begins, and have no idea what to expect on their wedding night and afterwards. It appears that the men are not much better informed.

In a recent New York Times article, “The Sexual Misery of the Arab World,” Kamel Daoud writes: “. . . One of the great miseries plaguing much of the so-called Arab world, and the Muslim world more generally, is its sick relationship with women. . . . Sex is a complex taboo . . . arising out of the ambient conservatism’s patriarchal culture, the Islamists’ new, rigorist codes and the discreet Puritanism of the region’s various socialisms. That makes a good combination for obstructing desire or guilt-tripping and marginalizing those who feel any. . . . Today sex is a great paradox in many countries of the Arab world: One acts as though it doesn’t exist, and yet it determines everything that’s unspoken.

Arab and South and East Asian couples have the opportunity to face the taboos of their culture; not an easy task, however, and perhaps one best done with help from a third party who is comfortable talking about sex. There are also good books for those who want to try on their own:
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex: But Were afraid to Ask by Dr. David R. Rubin, M.D. (1999)
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort

Even though sex may be taboo, it is also one of the greatest means of connection with our beloved. Oh, and did I mention that once the issues are resolved, it’s pleasurable beyond many other things?

What is it worth to you?


Posted by fred, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Feb 28, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Good article, in Islam there is no separation of church and state therefore making male dominated antiquated notions of sex and the interaction of sexes is just plain incomprehensible in this world today.

Posted by question about Asian relationships, a resident of North Whisman,
on Feb 29, 2016 at 11:08 am

When I see "East Asian" people on American TV, why are they only dating white people (usually an Asian-American woman and a white American man)?

Posted by Confused 2, a resident of Waverly Park,
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:32 pm

I'm really surprised and offended at the misuse of the regions/cultures and religions against such a broad group. The article refers to South and East Asians; East Asians/Arabs; Hindi and Muslim (Hindi is a language not a religion).

So is the claim around sexual dysfunction, turkey basters, anxiety and shame - based on religious influence or incorrectly identified regional subgroups? Either way all of these issues are complex and come down to many different factors, that don't just afflict any one culture.

Services aimed at helping people... require a very deliberate and genuine attempt to understand the “other” without judgment, but with empathy, respect and understanding.

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 1, 2016 at 9:46 am

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Confused, thanks for your questioning. That is what I am doing here, too. My intent is not judgment, and I'm sorry if you take it that way. I am hoping that others will jump in with ideas. I am sharing what I am noticing. Of course we want to help people who are suffering, and these are very complex issues. My goal is to open a dialogue.

Posted by are you confused?, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 1, 2016 at 12:26 pm

fred says " Islam there is no separation of church and state..."

Is there such a notion in any other organized religion?
Talking of separation of church and state in any religion is a contradiction in terms.

Poster is confused....

Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 1, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

I hope we can stay on topic and be curious about what is going on.

Posted by Common sense, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Mar 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

"Confused 2" appeared to be confused indeed. I've read Chandrama's blog post carefully, repeatedly, and nowhere does it include "misuse of the regions/cultures and religions" or "incorrectly identified regional subgroups," two broad-brush characterizations mentioned (without any supporting example) in the comment by "Confused 2." There was the one obvious error (Hindi for Hindu), soon corrected. Could it be that the commenter (and those who clicked the "Like" button on that comment) unjustly reads his/her own assumptions into the blog post (as people often do, when sensitive topics are written about)?

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