A Woman’s Body

I just finished Sardines by Nuruddin Farah, from his trilogy Variations on the Theme of an African Dictatorship. The last book I read of his was From a Crooked Rib and had written a post, Desire and Temptation, about how different cultures viewed temptation and who was to blame. In that post, I discussed how the tradition of women having to cover their bodies depicted women as being so tempting that men could not resist the very sight of them.

Well, I just came across these lines in Sardines where a mother is looking at her daughter’s body and says,

Yes, I’m referring to the canon laws which decree that to nobody other than her own husband, her brother or other women should a woman expose any part of her body save her feet, face, and hands. See? A man isn’t burdened with the weight of his body, every cell in a man is not an instigator of sin in another being. A woman’s body is tempting sin and Satan dwells in it. A woman’s body issues evil message to the eyes which behold it. A woman’s body estranges man from his Creator. A woman’s body is better hidden, as a corrupted Arab parable has it, like the reverse side of the moon.

Jessica White Again

And I got to thinking that yes, women’s bodies are pretty cool! As a matter of fact, I think I prefer to be estranged and tempted. And I don’t know who Satan thinks he is, but I am perfectly capable of controlling myself without the help of any divine laws being imposed on civilians like me.



Filed under Digressions, Essays, Literature

3 responses to “A Woman’s Body

  1. How dare you question the Cosmic Pimp, for he alone holds the keys of knowledge to receiving your allotment of 72 virgins …

    Petty mortals and their ideas … pffft.

    Although, from another perspective, there is the idea that you have less control than you would like to believe.

  2. eric

    Very true. I think what is interesting is the idea that man is unable to control himself, and therefore you have to put the burden on the woman to stop him. In other places in the world, it is the woman who cannot control herself and therefore cannot be trusted alone with a man.

  3. Personally, I find it erroneous on both counts.

    This is the problem with moralising sexuality. There is no more morality to sexuality than there is to respirating or excretion of waste.

    We don’t “control” those functions, nor do we have control of sexual desire. We can attempt to deny the desire, but it’s still there, and in the old Daoist line of thought, desiring not to desire, is the most corruptive desire of all.

    The biochemical activity of the body in the male/female courtship is sublimely hidden, and infinitely powerful ~ the genetics won’t be denied their immortality. Between the pheromones, oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, and corresponding sex hormone, (testosterone or estrogen), how much control can one have?

    In the instance of sexual attraction where the pheromones signal that enticing genetic dissimilarity, the mannerisms of the other individual wave the banner of social intelligence and resource availability … you are going to be inclined, and dependent on the strength of the independent factors, have little control.

    Placing the onus of responsibility on one individual due to gender, is about as moronic as believing there is a Cosmic Pimp who controls your destiny.

    If we’re going to go this route with sexuality, we might as well give up on science and research, throw our hands in the air, and give over all control of the fate of the world to the Bran Muffin of Divine Omnipotence ~ and call it a day.

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