Bee Hive, City Centre– The launching of the Obedient Wives Club (OWC) has caused quite a stir over the past weekend. Reports by the media on statements by its Vice President such as “fulfill husband’s desires to avert him from going astray”, “sex satisfaction solution to social ills” or “wives should be first-class prostitutes” has triggered uninvited controversy and kinky misconception towards the club by the general public.
Clash of Ideas
Feminist-based associations such as Sisters in Islam have vehemently spoken against these statements in defense of the position of the female species in marital institutions. In this case, there is a great debate on the responsibility of wives in being subservient to their husbands versus women’s rights where an obedient wife may become a victim of patriarchal injustice.
I believe that the reportage on the OWC by the media may have been distorted because it seemed illogical for an Islamic association like the OWC to turn wives into degrading sex objects when actually its main objective is to save marriages and its problems that are ripping our social fabric. As predicted, more explanation has surfaced in clarification of the previous surprising statements by Dr. Rohaya from the OWC.
As a holistic religion, Islam has provided mankind with solutions in this imperfect world. The Holy Quran is like a manual to the functions of man unveiling the mysteries of existence and non-existence. The sunnah illustrates or elaborates to further enlighten us on related issues. Hence, marriage or munakahat is also one of those involving topics.
This situation portrays there is a contradicting picture of elderly hijabbed Muslim women touching on sexual matters in the open. To bluntly speak of it is still viewed as taboo in our Malaysian society. Malaysians today are products of modernity but actually some remain conservatives at heart (at least on the matter of sex). Hence, Dr. Rohaya has made a grave mistake when she used “wives as whores” in her interview.
Besides being tainted by the way it was expressed, the messages conveyed were misinterpreted by the public due to the way it was highlighted by the press. I am sure that the pioneers of the OWC which are comprised of professionals and experts do not limit their beliefs to the theory that sex is the only cause to marital problems.
Women and Sex: NOT The Only Factors
In a recent report by JAKIM, it was claimed that divorces rates have increased over the years where for every 15 minutes, a divorce is filed by Muslim couples. Of course, the problem of obedient wives and sex do play a part in the breakdown of family institutions and its consequences such as social ills. However, these are NOT the only contributing factors. By viewing social problems from a microscopic view, it would only hinder us from solving problems and could also misguide us into resorting to detrimental solutions.
“Bedding” Responsibilities in OWC’s Words
Before jumping into conclusions from reading articles on the Obedient Wives Club, one should reassess the issue from the source of information. Curious, I myself had googled for possible face-to-face interviews done with an OWC spokesperson and found a clip uploaded by MalaysiaKini.
Based on Dr. Rohaya’s ( OWV Vice-President) interview with MalaysiaKini, her points were;
- A woman is endowed with four responsibilities; “to pray, to fast, to preserve her chastity and to be obedient to her husband.”
- “Scandals and prostitution begins from home where sexual needs of a husband are not fulfilled by the wife.”
- “A good woman is perceived to be prim and proper and to take care of her children. But not much is emphasized on fulfilling sexual needs.”
- “In this club, we provide counseling to let the women know that besides being a good wife, you must also be good in bed.”
- “We believe that main problem in the world today such as social ills begins from home. Because a man who is stressed out / unsatisfied at home will stray.”
From this interview, I found that Dr. Rohaya had repetitively tried to highlight that wives today have been too focused on performing their daily tasks and take sexual responsibilities for granted. The OWC plans to educate wives that fulfilling the sexual needs of their husbands are also as vital as other daily responsibilities that are important to them such as taking care of their children, house chores and their career. The means of educating may be through counseling or seminars.
Sexual problems in marriages may be caused by various factors such as not having the awareness of its significance in marital relations, being too engrossed with daily chores, not having the energy or vitality after a hard day’s work, emotionally distressed due to the burden of problems with the husband, financial and etc.
Actually, Dr. Rohaya has inadvertently clarified the problems of men who have affairs out of their marriage. Some of these men complain that their wives have overlooked their emotional and sexual needs because of being too focused on their children or grandchildren.
Problems of The Husbands and Wives
Over time, men would grow older by age but most of them have this needy child within them who yearn for care and love from their wives forever. As for women, they look up to their husbands as masters of the house and believe men are able to look after themselves as compared to their children.
However, the problem does not end there. Being the 21st century wives, women face different set of challenges from the era of pre-modernity. Wives today are child-bearers, home makers and also career women. Fulfilling all of these roles is already a great feat for any women. They would also have to groom themselves to look good for their husbands which is probably much easier for a housewife with a maid or an assistant.
So you see, there are always challenges in marriages that are bound to create problems and cause collateral damages. That is why communication is very important in marriage. Both husband and wife must try to explain to each other what are their expectations and negotiate what they can compromise with. For example, if a husband wants more time with the wife, then help her with the chores or take her out for dinner to cut down the time she spends in the kitchen that night after work. Maybe he could even take her for a spa to revitalize her and make her feel good about herself and him as a husband.
Both wife and husband should incessantly inspect introspectively how to improve themselves to improve the situation. It is unfruitful to blame the other party and only to reach an impasse. If they have improved themselves at their best and yet solution still evades them, they must keep on du’a praying for the best because everything that is destined to happen has a reason.
The problem of sex and marriage is like the chicken and egg puzzle where we question which comes first. Maybe Dr. Rohaya says sex is the main problem of social problems but there are also other aspects that has caused sex to be a problem in marriages that should be looked into.
I hope the OWC would go beyond educating wives on the importance of sex and their appearance for their husbands. They should also educate them on the means of dealing with problematic husbands for a better home for the whole family and how to empower themselves mentally and spiritually.
Most importantly, they should be very nimble with their words to avoid future misinterpretations towards them as an Islamic NGO, their objectives and their image as muslim women.