Sex in the Muslim City

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Is it possible all those young men clashing in the streets of Cairo and Damascus aren’t getting enough?

Democracy? No, I mean that other thing people seek and are willing to die for.


Talk of the “Arab Spring” now forms a clichéd part of pundit chatter in America, with plays on “Arab Winter” and “Arab Fall” depending on the politics of the speaker and the troubled country dissolving at the moment. But few talking heads know enough about Arab culture to tie the massive Mideast street actions we’ve seen to matters behind surface politics. And those background matters include the state of Arab marriage, the tension between so-called Western norms and Islamic pieties, and the suppressed sexuality among Arab youth who face financial and theological obstacles to fulfilling their desires.

Is it tasteless to mix somber stuff like political rebellion with sub-rosa lust and denial? Could be it’s truthful rather than tasteless.

Thank you, then, Shereen El Feki—Cambridge-educated immunologist, former science writer for The Economist, current vice chair of the U.N.’s Global Commission on HIV and Law—for adventuring beyond the headlines in Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, forthcoming from Pantheon Books. It’s a trenchant exploration of the uncertainties filling the humble abodes that Tahrir Square demonstrators go home to. A truthful book may not set you free when you’ve suffered under centuries of misguided interpretations of Islam and sex, but one prays that El Feki gets an Arabic edition.

In the West, her blunt examination of sex and its attendant practices and paraphernalia—topics include vibrators, Viagra, virginity codes, marital rape, and homophobia—would hardly raise an eyebrow. We Westerners live now in a Fifty Shades world, a publishing culture in which Naomi Wolf’s Vagina gets reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review by former ballerina Toni Bentley—she of The Surrender (a title meant to evoke the offering of another body part)—and one hopes the kids aren’t watching.

Written By: Carlin Romano
continue to source article at chronicle.com

6 COMMENTS

  1. I have often joked that instead of dropping bombs on the “enemies” we have in the middle east, we should drop caches of porn and DVD’s and vibrators and Hustler magazines. It would derail them much more effectively than indiscriminate killing.

    Bombs seem to galvanize; porn would (I joke) have them divided. Now, it seems, it is not so much of a joke. Porn for everyone!!!!

  2. The Victorian Richard Burton and Pasolini sold me the voluptuous vision as a teenager. I was so bitterly disappointed to learn how dessicated and loveless the culture had actually become.

    It is interesting that the intellectual and artistic golden age coincided with this other.

  3. The confidence and creativity of Arab civilization was once reflected in its sexual life. For the first time in a long time, we have a chance to see this again—not by gazing at our past, but by looking to our future.”

    In looking toward the future it might help to keep in mind that when approximately 90% of Egyptian women have their clitoris removed, it just doesn’t bode well for good sexual health and enjoyment. Not just the women either. The men have had a piece of their penis hacked off as children and they were probably old enough to remember how frightening and painful it was. What we have here is an entire society that are victims of genital mutilation right from the get go.

    Another helpful hint would be to let go of the extreme form of virgin/whore complex that is endemic to this society. When young women and girls are sold to the highest bidder in the marriage market with their personal and family honor tied directly to her virginity, what in the world do they expect? If it should come to light that she squandered her most valuable asset on someone who she chose all by herself then her very life will be under serious threat. Talk about libido crushing fear! Those young women guard their virginity ferociously and who would blame them? An hour of sexual fun and games could land her dead in a dumpster.

    All I ever heard from Muslim men was how they cover their women with hejabs and burkas because that’s how much they respected their women. Not like those decadent sex maniac Americans who let their wives and daughters walk around the streets nearly naked! But the dirty little secret of Muslim men was exposed in the film footage of the Arab Spring. The despicable molestations that took place in the Egyptian uprisings by demonstrators and government officials speaks for itself. They don’t respect women. They want to keep them in what they see is their rightful place – barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen rattling those pots and pans.

    Now please tell me in light of all of this, how will the confidence and creativity of Arab civilization that was once reflected in it’s sexual life ever going to make a reappearance ever again?

  4. In reply to #1 by crookedshoes:

    I have often joked that instead of dropping bombs on the “enemies” we have in the middle east, we should drop caches of porn and DVD’s and vibrators and Hustler magazines. It would derail them much more effectively than indiscriminate killing.

    Bombs seem to galvanize; porn would (I joke) have them divided. Now, it seems, it is not so much of a joke. Porn for everyone!!!!

    A view espoused by Billy Connolly as well, some years ago. [A laugh at Islam] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xwPVgRaROA)

  5. It is my hypothesis that all conflict, all struggle and all disaffection is due to want. A society that has eaten, slept and fucked its fill is quick to build and create, and slow to wage war. I’m also pretty sure that new regimes are created with the intent to build such a society, yet we don’t have the technology that allows for a civilization to sustain abundance for their current population.

    And as Dawkins has famously noted, any living system will reproduce to rapidly consume the resources available resulting in mass famine, and we would need to prevent that from happening as well.

    But I digress. Religions often prey on want and promise abundance in an unseen future for sacrifice today, so they have a strong investment in keeping their flock lean and hungry, and eager to war.

  6. Big Gus’ comment reminds me of Billy Connolly commenting once that the thought of getting to Heaven and being offered 70 virgins would be a “f—–g nightmare – just give me a couple of filthy whores any day!”
    The promise of endless exquisite sex for these sad Muslim men is irresistible if they blow themselves up along with some kufar.

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