Sex in the Arab World

Author and activist Shereen El Feki on whether the Arab Spring can produce a Summer of Love

(Page 4 of 4)

Q: Can you share any experiences in which you were surprised?

A: A couple of years ago there was a Lebanese TV talk show that had an episode on sexual life in the Arab region. A man from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, gave up a glimpse of his sexual life. It was tame by Western standards, for sure. It was almost girlishly discreet. The day after, there were thousands of complaints to the governor of Jeddah. He was sacked from his job at Saudi Arabian Airlines because he said that his fantasy was the Mile High Club. The fact he worked on the ground staff was neither here nor there. They sacked him, and he was sentenced to I think five years in prison and a thousand lashes.

The sentence was commuted, but what was most interesting is that he was not being punished for what he did. He was being punished for what he said he had done. We don’t have a culture of confession in Islam. We are enjoined to conceal our sins.

When we have this gap between appearance and reality, so many problems come in, whether it’s sexual violence, sexual dissatisfaction within marriage, or HIV/AIDS. We need to find a way to talk about these things. My argument in the book is that a thousand years ago—not that we go back to that period, it was a different time, I’m not a sexual Salafi here—but our ancestors seemed to have an ability to reconcile Islam with the needs of the flesh. They were able to talk about it and generate information. We need to recapture that spirit.  

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  • Caleb Turberville||

    An Arab Jefferson Airplane?

  • Mike M.||

    This stupid article again? I'd be embarrassed to print such laughable rubbish after the events of the last couple of years.

  • wwhorton||

    I thought she made some interesting observations, but I think she gets a little too wrapped up in her premise. Sexual mores might be an indicator of other stuff going on in the culture, but it's not a driving force, and it's not causal. In other words, all things being equal, you can't just airlift condoms and porn to Saudi Arabia and expect an Arab Enlightenment to occur the next morning any more than you could produce the same result by opening a Budweiser brewery or a comic book store.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    If you really want to know people, start by looking in their bedrooms

    Around here that'll get you arrested.

  • Almanian!||

    Thank you for the boob shot. Nice cleavage.

  • wwhorton||

    Seconded. That's absent from the print version, and I was hoping this was some sort of like subscriber reward "digital bonus" thing.

  • Sunken Idaho||

    What? Decapitations by rose stem isn't sexy to you?

  • Mike M.||

    No kidding dude. I swear, the willing ignorance of reality and suspension of disbelief that goes on with these cosmos on certain topics is fucking mind-boggling.

  • MWG||

    Drink!

  • ||

    This article again? Hard up for content are we? I refrained last time but not now: Cleavage!

  • chexsystem||

    How happy to read your post, I hope I can write the article the same wonderful as you.

  • Agammamon||

    Wait, where's the link to your blog that's nothing but a list of keywords?

    I love those things!

  • Brett L||

    Wasn't Sex and the Citadel a tell-all about buggery at the military academy?

  • Ray||

    This is rather self-parodic even by the standards of this publication. Also, don't they chop off women's clitorises in Egypt?

  • Mike M.||

    They most certainly do. The primary purpose of sex in that benighted region of the world is to produce more jihadis prepared to kill and die on behalf of "Allah".

  • mtrueman||

    "They most certainly do"

    I've said it before, the practice has been illegal since 2007. Thanks to the activism of a handful of feminists and doctors. The number of women in Egypt who have been subjected to this mutilation is declining. I'm not sure I understand your attitude - not being able to take 'yes' for an answer. I suspect that it comes from a deeper bigotry and fear which you almost certainly won't admit to or want to discuss. All the same, thanks for sharing.

  • mtrueman||

    "don't they chop off women's clitorises in Egypt?"

    No they don't. At least not legally. Due to the efforts of feminists and physicians this practice was outlawed in Egypt in 2007, I'm sure you'll be happy to learn. There's information on this at wikipedia and other places on the web.

    They were quite courageous, going against some powerful reactionary forces in society, so we should recognize their bravery and the fact that now this mutilation is on the decline in Egypt.

  • Anders||

    It is illegal in Egypt, yes.

    And it still goes on, especially in the smaller communities.

  • mtrueman||

    "And it still goes on"

    I'm sure you are right. But the practice is in decline in Egypt at long last. It is on the rise in USA in spite of its never being legal or socially acceptable.

    "Also, don't they chop off women's clitorises in Egypt?"

    Also they do, but it misses the point and it turns a blind eye to positive developments in Egypt that I would have thought Libertarians would be proud to support. What purpose is served by ignoring the 2007 law? The only one I see is to enable anti arab bigots like Ray to continue spread his talking points.

    Anti Arab bigotry trumping libertarian principles. Another proud moment at Reason magazine.

  • InlineSkate||

    I find the idea amusing, because wouldn't doing that imply that "Allah" fucked up?

  • Curmudgeon44||

    They really should reflect on the notion they disapprove of woman as God made it.

  • NK||

    All this crap about "sexual freedom" is just code for feminism, sexual libertinism, and the rest of the crap culture that has infected the West. This is cosmotarianism, libertarianism combined with advocacy for this crap liberal culture. Seriously, "sex worker?" Political correctness at its worst. Now, the way Arabs treat women is appalling and needs to end, but that doesn't mean they should adopt our culture. Look what it's done to us. And didn't we have this article, like three months ago?

  • InlineSkate||

    You do realize this is a libertarian policy group right?

    Sexual freedom is right up their alley. You want rigid conservative ideals the Heritage foundation is probably a bit more your style.

  • VoluntaryBeatdown||

    Islam is inherently misogynistic. It is also inherently anti-freedom. How in the world are these people able to claim to fight for freedom and liberty while at the same time oppressing women so extremely? The only way they are able to justify this lack of consistency is by using the Koran and Islam itself to degenerate women to sub-human status, to property. Pretty disgusting.

  • Anders||

    I was expecting this to be about man-camel carnal relations.

  • Anders||

    Was she an Arab fired for sexually assaulting a camel?

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