What Do Women Talk About When They Talk About Sex?

When a group of Muslim women got together to discuss sex, religion, patriarchy and society, this is what they said.

Let's talk sex
2 min read

One afternoon, a group of Muslim women got together to talk about sex and how it ties with their religious identity.

Though the conversation was initially premised on the role of religious beliefs in one’s life, we soon realised that in a country as diverse and secular as India, it’s not religion but culture and society which attach the stigma.

In 2016, a US-based Muslim woman wrote a book on ‘halal’ or legitimate sex. It talks of sexual relations within the Islamic legitimacy of marriage. It is also the first mainstream literature of its kind to address the topic of sexual pleasure for women within an otherwise predominantly patriarchal society. Consequently, the manual triggered a massive discussion.

Cover of the 66-page manual on ‘halal’ sex.
Cover of the 66-page manual on ‘halal’ sex.
(Photo Courtesy:

Sex and Society

We put together a group of Muslim women to ask them their ideas on halal sex. Though most of them were not familiar with the concept, they all agreed that for them religion was not tied to their sexuality.

Instead, it was other aspects of society and culture which put obstacles in their way. Religion appeared later in the list of things that influenced them.

Over the course of discussion, the women talked about their trysts with porn, patriarchy, partners who expected specifically Muslim women to be a certain way, and their ease of discussing sex with family members.

Religion, Islam and Sexuality

All of them agreed upon how rules are different for both men and women, thanks to patriarchy. There was also consensus about how the manner in which they practice Islam influences their sexuality.

Though none of them have felt held back by their religious identity, they agreed upon how there are many women who might not feel the same if they are devout followers of Islam. Additionally, there is no fixed definition of a ‘good’ Muslim. As long as you’re a good person, you’re a good Muslim, they concluded.

Camera person: Abhishek Ranjan
Video Editor: Rahul Sapui
Illustrator: Erum Gour

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