Discussion / Event

Published: 13/04/2011

Sexuality is a history of struggle for the autonomy over one’s body, as well as the mirror of the social institutions that take an interest in defining it. Every person undergoes a process of involvement with sex, both as a biological vessel and a result of social construction, in such a way until one reaches a complete understanding of her/his sexual body, identity, and sexuality. The system of sexuality which is built will then arouse sexual desires – to be sexual, to reveal, and to reach one’s pleasure. Being sexual is supposed to be a pleasurable desire and to free an individual in determining one’s sexual expression, attitude, or behavior. This includes the achievement and purpose of its usage; either pleasure, recreation, or symbolism.



  1. Lies Marcoes-Natsir (A Feminist Muslim and Senior Officer of The Asia Foundation)
  2. Firliana Purwanti (The Author of The ‘O’ Project book and Program Officer of Hivos Southeast Asia)


  1. The difference between human and animal is human’s ability to think and consider their conscience. The biological sex, which have been thought about, reflected, lived for, studied and governed by human being, resulted in the concept of sexuality.

  2. Sexuality is a very fundamental nature of human experience. It is very important to appreciate and respect the rights of a person’ sexuality because sexuality include sexual identity, norms, practices, habits, feelings, desires, fantasies and pleasures associated with sexual awareness, arousal and acts, which also cover the heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

  3. The struggle over sexuality is very important not only to determine how well a society treat human beings that exist in society, but also how well the community is able to “mutually support each other’s company”. 

  4. Orgasm is a political project position. There should be space for the usurper of meaning to interpret it differently, appreciate and respect the rights of men and women. 

  5. Sexuality is also a political space and a space to fight becauase therein reflected and portrayed the true women’s position. Sexual pleasure is supposed to belong to everyone because it is very intimate, firmly attached and not liberated in every person.

Presentation Summary

  1. Human are social and sexual beings, who require sex as much as he/she eats and drinks (instinctual drive).

  2. When human beings can not control their sexual desires, human beings are labeled “abject”, “disable”, “abnormal” and stigmatized of being immoral.

  3. Sex, sexuality and gender relations are three different-but-interrelated concepts covering material (body) and conceptual (gender).

  4. The Victorian era in the 1800s in Europe is an era in which sex and sexuality were confined and imprisoned. In that era, sex was reserved only for the means of procreation (producing children), which links to the context of the industrial revolution that required a lot of low-paid manpower (labors/workers) to support the capitalist economy.

  5. Islamic countries use religion to castrate someone’ sex and sexuality rights by internalizing segregation patterns of the binary hetero-normative sexual orientation. The background of the acknowledged segregation of binary patterns is because religion depends on the mass number of people (demographics) to spread to and become followers of the religion.

  6. In the cultural and political context, including religion, sexuality is the object of regulation. It basically assumes that sex and sexuality is a source of problems or issues that could determine a person’s moral behavior. By using the binary opposition of hell-heaven, a person’ sex and sexuality becomes an indicator for assessing his/her merits in social life.

  7. Sex is usually referred to genitals or the practice of sexual relation between husband-wife (male and female), while sexuality if formed on two axis; namely subjectivity (who and what we are); and subjectivity of society (which is associated with the development of society, health and prosperity as well as the total population). Both are closely related because both are the central axis that lies precisely in the body and its potential. (Weeks, 1986:34).

  8. Sexuality is a concept, a product of human thought. It was born after humane negotiation, struggle and willpower. Sexuality is the result of a variety of diverse social practices as well as social and individual meanings; the outcome of the struggle between those who have the power to define and regulate and those who oppose it.

  9. Political action to dismantle persistent taboo and segregation to shackle sexuality is through continuous socialization and discussion about sex, sexuality and pleasure. In line with the more frequent the topic is discussed in public, they will understand that such talks and discussions are parts of science and education to organize the community toward justice, equality and prosperity.

Question & Answer

(Q) Why does constraint to sexuality, escpecially that of women, exist?
(A) Sexuality (particularly that of women) has been constrained through spritituality (religion) as it links to women’s role as the source of human reproduction of the upcoming generation. Women has been synonymous with fertility and this affects the number of human population. It links very closely with religion because the more human population produced by women, the more the number of followers of the religion. When the number of followers of the religion increases, the strength and power of religion will equally increase culturally, economically and politically.


(Q) How do the confinement of sex and sexuality materialize in Western countris and in Muslim-majority countries, are they similar or not?
(A) The confinement of women in Western countries and Muslim-majority countries are closely similar. Women are viewed as an object, as a symbol of male pride. Women are also only allowed to contribute the most in the domestic sphere, mainly trough sex as a mean of reproduction. During the Victorian era in Western countries, women could only have sex after married. Married women back then were encouraged to produce children as many as possible because industry revolution created a condition that needed a lot of manpower to work in factories. Within the context of war, women in the Muslim majority countries were made a object of pride of men who went to war. In a war, the attack against a society, including women, was done in the forms of rape and murder. The meaning of this kind of attack is to cripple the opponent’s pride and to paralyze their source of reproduction in an attempt to make them unable to produce offspring who could take revenge.


(Q) How could we take over or reconstruct the concepts and ideas from the religious point of view because it is the most difficult to change?
(A) Taking over and reconstructing the concept of the rights of sexuality and pleasure could be done by, among other things, continuously discuss, talk about and encourage safe, responsible and enjoyable sex. If those things generate opposition, we have to be able to present data, reality and not afraid to involve in an ethical war through thinking and intepretation of the Koran’s verses , which should be friendlier, more open, logical and able to respect humanity. In fact, the Koran is made from the language of science serving as guidance and instruction rather than laws. The Koran itself contains an explanation, which reveal the debate, contestation and contradiction. It takes logic, conscience and the contemporary society context in understanding and interpreting them.


(Q) Is the norm of the rights to get sex pleasure similar in Islam and British Victorian?
(A) In the war history during the Prophet Muhammad era, men who went to war with him were rotated to go hom and see their respective wives to have sex. Therefore, the indicator of sex and sexuality need was female. During the Victorian era in the West, there were medical doctors who performed medical massage in the area of women’s clitoris. The doctor was like a regular doctor who could cure diseases and women’ sense of stress by doing the massage.


(Q) Why does sexual satisfaction must be an orgasm, isn’t it very masculine?
(A) Orgasm looks very masculine because based on the culture values that have been formed, an appreciation goes when a man orgasm, which serves as a proof of virility and high pride. Whether women want to have orgasm or not, it is not an issue of men. This kind of logic has been constructed over and over again. In fact, a man who could not bring his partner to orgasms Is really not manly that could bring down his male pride. Orgasm for women is not necessarily the act of penetration between the penis and the vagina. Orgasm for women can be achieved with anything, from a warm hug or just sweet appreciative and respectful words. Orgasm is actually sexual satisfaction that could affect a person’s psychology, sense of comfort and security.


(Q) Why does dignity placed on certain female body part?
(A)Female body parts indicate dignity because women are initially considered as the source of sin who could affect men’s faith and behavior. Women become a determinant of dignity and honor not by themselves but men due to women’s ability to reproduce, producing offspring for men and, particularly, descendants who are male.


(Q) How do the rights of sexuality and pleasure link to female circumcision issues?
(A)Female circumcision has nothing to do with female medical or health issues. Female circumcision is closely related to culture and social culture that consider women’ sexuality dangerous and must be destroyed. Clitoris is the part that is circumcised because it is the source of pleasure for women. The danger of female circumcision is the assumption surrounding it, saying that women who are not circumcised are dirty and sinful and, therefore, must be controlled.


(Q) Is it true that there is sanctity when we discuss about sexuality and pleasure?
(A)There is nothing sacred or taboo in any discussion about sexuality and pleasure. Our society has been hegemonized by the product of mainstream patriarchal thought accompanied by religious nuances (sin-hell), social sanction nuance (in the form of exclusion and stigma) for those who dare to express it in public. Talks and discussions about sex and sexuality should actually be a part of science that can brighten people (female and male) and bring goodness to all.



It requires statistics, data, research and, obviously, the political action When We talk and discuss about sex, sexuality and pleasure. All of Them Will influence each other That Could be materialized in the honor, respect and balance the between male and female in society.

Talking and discussing about sex, sexuality and pleasure need good statistics, data, research, and, of course, political action. All of them will affect and impact on the attitudes of mutual honor and respect to develop and enact equality and justice between men and women in society.