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It’s Time to Address Female Sexuality in Brown Cultures

As a Bengali-American, I was raised not only influenced by the mix of cultures I come across while growing up in the United States, but also the strong South Asian culture my parents enforce at home. I was lucky enough to have parents who were more lenient with my choice of clothing style, my education and who I am friends with (I am allowed to be friends with guys, it's truly a shock). I know too many other girls my age from similar cultural backgrounds whose parents are more strict over them. But the lack of conversation over female sexuality is bigger than the little issues we run into here and there with our parents.  

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Middle Eastern countries all have a similar culture and are often blended together. In the more social sector of society, there is this double standard between males and females. It is more extreme than the types of double standards we are taught in history classes from Neo-European cultures. Little girls are told to always study, wear long sleeves and keep our heads down. Boys are encouraged to constantly play sports, allowed to wear sleeveless tanks while in hot weather and are celebrated when they open their mouths. 

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As these little girls and boys become teenagers, young women are more oppressed, while young men enjoy more freedom. A teenage girl is shamed for wearing a crop top without a shawl to cover her upper collarbone. A teenage boy is considered 'fashion-forward' if they are half naked and are told to begin modeling. As soon as a teenage girl is ready to explore her sexual side, she is shamed hard by not just her parents, but the whole community. There is no such thing as secrets in a brown society. "What will other people say?!" is the famous words always uttered by parents, because family reputation and perception are more important than their daughters' upbringing. God forbid if she had premarital sex and got pregnant. However, if a teenage boy starts to explore his sexual side and desires, all of a sudden, he is 'of age' and is celebrated once again. If he gets a girl pregnant, the worst he will get is a slap on the wrist.

When it comes to marriage, it is finally allowed for women to explore their sexual desires! But only at the discretion and limitations of her husband. She can't enjoy sex because she is only engaging in this type of behavior so she can conceive a child. She can't talk about it because it isn't 'lady-like.' Her job is to provide a body so her husband can put a child in her for growth. As soon as a man talks about his sexual experiences, he is given high fives, and everyone thinks he is coolest. His friends crack jokes that are way too inappropriate about his wife.

These ideals and teachings have been around for centuries in brown cultures. But with a new progressive attitude that many young women in these cultures are taking, they are starting to push back more. They are not taking anyone's bullsh*t anymore and are reclaiming their bodies for themselves. Although this new development of badass rebellious women is on its way up, it isn't stopping the enforcement of anti-female sexuality teachings and female oppression. No one wants to listen unless noise is being made. Young brown girls, it's time to make some noise.

Arba Choudhury is currently a senior at VCU, majoring in Fashion Design. In addition to being a writer for HerCampus at VCU, she is also the Social Media Director and runs the Instagram for the chapter. Choudhury loves watching YouTube videos, browsing on Pinterest, and hanging out with her friends in her free time. She loves reading about style and beauty while also keeping up with pop culture and current events.
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