Sexuality in the Arab World
Arab cultural discourse has been slow to respond to changing sexual behaviour. The contributors to this collection pick up the slack, ranging across such disciplines as literature, history, sociology and psychology. Is Damascus the 'chastity capital' of the Middle East, where perceptions of wealth and class fuel female rivalries? How do gay men cruise in Beirut? How do young women in Tunis cope with both social pressures to become thin and family pressures to gain weight? What do Lebanese creative-writing students write about sexual practices versus public behaviour? The fresh, compelling research topi covered include masculinity and migration; colonialism and sexual health; fantasy and violence; and domestic workers and sexual tensions. 'Other people's sex lives have always been a source of fascination, and nowhere more so than in the Middle East ... Ground-breaking.' New Statesman
Sex and the Citadel
**Kirkus Best Books of the Year (2013)** If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms. As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home—in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative, insightful, and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society. Sex is entwined in religion, tradition, politics, economics, and culture, so it is the perfect lens through which to examine the complex social landscape of the Arab world. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, from sex work to same-sex relations, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the region and brings new voices to the debate over its future. This is no peep show or academic treatise but a highly personal and often humorous account of one woman’s journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate and, in the process, to better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research, Sex and the Citadel gives us a unique and timely understanding of everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing before our eyes. From the Hardcover edition.
Sexual desire has long played a key role in Western judgments about the value of Arab civilization. In the past, Westerners viewed the Arab world as licentious, and Western intolerance of sex led them to brand Arabs as decadent; but as Western society became more sexually open, the supposedly prudish Arabs soon became viewed as backward. Rather than focusing exclusively on how these views developed in the West, in Desiring Arabs Joseph A. Massad reveals the history of how Arabs represented their own sexual desires. To this aim, he assembles a massive and diverse compendium of Arabic writing from the nineteenth century to the present in order to chart the changes in Arab sexual attitudes and their links to Arab notions of cultural heritage and civilization. A work of impressive scope and erudition, Massad’s chronicle of both the history and modern permutations of the debate over representations of sexual desires and practices in the Arab world is a crucial addition to our understanding of a frequently oversimplified and vilified culture. “A pioneering work on a very timely yet frustratingly neglected topic. . . . I know of no other study that can even begin to compare with the detail and scope of [this] work.”—Khaled El-Rouayheb, Middle East Report “In Desiring Arabs, [Edward] Said’s disciple Joseph A. Massad corroborates his mentor’s thesis that orientalist writing was racist and dehumanizing. . . . [Massad] brilliantly goes on to trace the legacy of this racist, internalized, orientalist discourse up to the present.”—Financial Times
Headscarves and Hymens
A passionate manifesto decrying misogyny in the Arab world, by an Egyptian American journalist and activist When the Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy published an article in Foreign Policy magazine in 2012 titled "Why Do They Hate Us?" it provoked a firestorm of controversy. The response it generated, with more than four thousand posts on the website, broke all records for the magazine, prompted dozens of follow-up interviews on radio and television, and made it clear that misogyny in the Arab world is an explosive issue, one that engages and often enrages the public. In Headscarves and Hymens, Eltahawy takes her argument further. Drawing on her years as a campaigner and commentator on women's issues in the Middle East, she explains that since the Arab Spring began, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake: one fought with men against oppressive regimes, and another fought against an entire political and economic system that treats women in countries from Yemen and Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya as second-class citizens. Eltahawy has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa, meeting with women and listening to their stories. Her book is a plea for outrage and action on their behalf, confronting the "toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend." A manifesto motivated by hope and fury in equal measure, Headscarves and Hymens is as illuminating as it is incendiary.
Love and Sexuality in Modern Arabic Literature
In segregated, conservative societies with a repressive attitude to women, writings on the theme of love and sexuality are of particular interest. Among the many studies on modern Arabic literature, this book is the first major treatment of what has generally been a taboo subject. The scope covers the entire history of modern Arabic literature--poetry, the novel and the short story--from the late nineteenth century to the end of the 1980s. Examples are drawn from countries as diverse as Algeria and Kuwait. Although the main accent is on the prose of Egypt and the countries of the Mashreq, North African literature is also included. Topics range from 'erotic awareness in the early Egyptian short story' to 'death and desire in Iraqi war literature', from 'fathers and husbands as tyrants and victims' to 'the foreign woman in the North African novel'. The writers whose works are analysed include Tawfiq al-Hakim, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Adonis, Layla Ba'albakki, Najib Mahfouz, Edwar al-Kharrat, Layla al-'Uthman and Nizar Qabbani. Each of the nineteen contributors to the book is a specialist in his or her field of modern Arabic literature.
Draws long-overdue attention to the rights of homosexuals in the Middle East. Here, "Guardian" journalist, Brian Whitaker, paints a disturbing picture of people who live secretive, fearful lives, often jailed, or beaten and ostracised by their families, or sent to be 'cured' by psychiatrists.
Sexuality in Islam
Originally published in 1985. Beginning with the Qur’an, Abdelwahab Bouhdiba confronts the question of male supremacy in Islam, and the strict separation of the masculine and the feminine. He gives an account of purification practices, of Islamic attitudes towards homosexuality, concubinage, legal marriage and of the sexual taboos laid down by the Qur’an. He assesses present-day sexual practice, including eroticism, misogyny and mysticism and concludes that the sexual alienation – and even oppression – of modern Muslim women is the result not of the Islamic vision of sexuality, but of social and economic pressures.
While the Western world adheres to a beauty ideal that says women can never be too thin, the semi-nomadic Moors of the Sahara desert have for centuries cherished a feminine ideal of extreme fatness. Voluptuous immobility is thought to beautify girls' bodies, hasten the onset of puberty, heighten their sexuality and ripen them for marriage. From the time of the loss of their first milk teeth, girls are directed to eat huge bowls of milk and porridge in one of the world's few examples of active female fattening. Based on fieldwork in an Arab village in Niger, Feeding Desire analyses the meanings of women's fatness as constituted by desire, kinship, concepts of health, Islam, and the crucial social need to manage sexuality. By demonstrating how a particular beauty ideal can only be understood within wider social structures and cultural logics, the book also implicitly provides a new way of thinking about the ideal of slimness in late Western capitalism. Offering a reminder that an estimated eighty per cent of the world's societies prefer plump women, this gracefully written book is both a fascinating exploration of the nature of bodily ideals and a highly readable ethnography of a Saharan people.