JAN 9 — Talk to anyone around town these days and they will tell you that these are really tough times. The economic conditions are jittery. The weather gods seem to dislike specific areas of Kajang and KL. The guys who are making their millions are finding it hard to make their next million. Luxury cars are being towed left and right.
Everybody (except perhaps yourself) seems to be getting some kind of handout from the government. Hell, even your kid brother’s getting a hundred bucks courtesy of somebody’s generosity at your expense. Your grandma’s getting free health treatment. The previously dashyat traffic jams in and around KL have now been upgraded to kena buang air dalam kereta jams. It’s tough out there.
But what many are also finding hard to do is get intimate in a meaningful relationship of some kind. I spoke to some friends the other day over teh tarik kurang manis, neslo and keropok leko, and they told me how hard it was to go dating these days and the dearth of quality men in the gene pool in Malaysia.
Uncertain of my own evolutionary order, I tried my best to shut up and to listen and learn as the women began an earnest discussion on “test driving” and “trying out the merchandise.” No, it was not about the latest thing on the road or trying out stuff at the Zara sale. It was about getting laid.
Sex seems to have gotten both easier and tougher. Easier, in the sense that people, especially the younger crowd have fewer hang-ups and baggage about the issue as compared to their older counterparts. A lot of people are having sex, including the pious looking (insert Obedient Wives Club here).
From the sound of it, the hotels (from budgets to the six stars) in and around town must also be doing a brisk business in single-night check-ins. People have less inhibitions and taboos but they have less knowledge and information about the use and maintenance of the plumbing down below and their reproductive functions. Even less was known about hygiene and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Everyone’s doing the horizontal mambo but not everyone knows what they are doing.
The Kotex BodyLife IQ survey in 2010 conducted with 1,800 women and girls between 16 and 24 years of age in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Malaysia revealed some astonishing and alarming details. Malaysian women and girls are the most ill-informed on sex-related matters and most ignorant about basic facts on reproductive health.
Eighty-two per cent were unable to correctly indicate the number of openings a woman has down below. There were some who believe that jumping up and down after having unprotected sex and drinking pineapple juice concoctions help to prevent pregnancy. In other surveys, a significant percentage of young women were found to not even know how a person became pregnant much less prevent it. Astounding findings, in this day and age of the Internet and easily accessible information.
Various studies clearly indicate that young women generally have a higher awareness and level of knowledge on sexual reproductive health matters as compared to young men. If this is the qualitative data for young women, I wonder what the data would show for young men. What I do know is that in Malaysia, 48 per cent of new HIV infections are now transmitted sexually and the incidences of major STIs are at a 10-year high. And that is before we talk about the number of teenage pregnancies and abandonment of newborns. This is the price we are paying and will continue to pay for many years to come for being frigid on the issue of sex education.
Besides fumbling and trying to figure out the functions of what goes where in the Lego of body parts, if you were fortunate or unfortunate enough (depending on who you ask) to be born of a certain ethnic group and religion, the process of trying to be intimate with someone could involve clandestine and covert methods, and could even be downright dangerous.
Somebody’s Malay boyfriend was detained by religious authorities during a romantic dinner and lakeside stroll. Another guy was beaten up by the girlfriend’s ex (the girlfriend shared this story). There also seems to be informants of the religious department everywhere: the receptionist at the check-in counter, the pizza delivery guy and the neighbour next door “yang dengki.” It’s quite a lot to go through to get laid.
Though this may sound somewhat a tad sinful to the religiously inclined, everyone (both men and women) around the coffee table agreed that in this day and age it was necessary to get intimate with someone as part of building the relationship. Before putting that ring on the finger or saying the vows, the consensus was that it was necessary to check out what was happening in that critical department.
Sexual health, one of the women stressed, was just as important as all the other components. It was imperative to find out if the guy cries after doing it, or if he believes that sex is only for procreation and a mortal sin for any other purpose, or, in one particular case, didn’t even know how to have sex.
Finding out any of the above after the wedding was considered just too late. Religious laws? Sin? Sure, everybody has heard the sermon and some even knew of someone who had run afoul with the syariah laws. But nobody wanted to go through unnecessary wedding night revelations or traumatic experiences.
Most importantly, wouldn’t you want to be with someone whom you were comfortable being intimate with? A few opined that Malaysian society was so restrained and constrained that we have become sexually repressed and practically bursting at the zippers. The more we put ourselves in virtual and mental chastity belts, the more harmful the consequences would be when the dam finally bursts.
Needless to say it was a fascinating afternoon discussion.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.