It’s no secret that in the Arab world, sex is taboo. Socialism and Islamists alike have coded eroticism to the point that it’s often obstructive, guilt-tripping, or worse. But some Arab men have found a way to overcome this stigma. A novel, “The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight,” by Sheikh Nafzawi, tackles this issue head on.
In old Arabic literature, women were portrayed as nymphomaniacs. Abu Nawas called women “demons” and questioned their honesty and endurance. Despite this, women were not subdued. They were rather riddles, requiring careful study. Men rarely ventured beyond the boundaries of patriarchy. In fact, men were expected to subjugate women. Arab men were often afraid of the consequences.
Although Arab men are generally conservative and do not show much skin in public, the rise in popularity of Arab sex is a reflection of their changing culture. Although Arab men are less likely than their husbands to engage in sexual activity, their attitudes toward adult material is mixed. While it may be considered taboo in the West, Arab men are less likely to criticize porn and other forms of media that depict sex in their culture.
In the Arab world, many young people are struggling to strike out on their own, find a job, and leave their parents’ homes. Because of this, they are unable to fully exercise their right to sexuality. Many of these young people also rely on the state for sexual freedom. Sandrine Atallah, one of Lebanon’s most prominent sex therapists, has taken steps to reverse this trend. She is a star of a popular social media platform, “Al Hubb Thaqafa.”
The project started small, but it has now grown into a global social media project. Using a website called The Sex Talk, it publishes sex talk from parents to their children, as well as a catalog of relevant information. Safa El Feki, the founder of The Sex Talk project, is a Ph.D. candidate at Glasgow Caledonian University. She is currently studying financial livelihood of refugees in the United Kingdom. She also discusses the feminist movement in the Arab world.
Despite the stigma associated with Arab sex, the Arab region is thriving with sex workers. In many Arab countries, women are not encouraged to engage in sex before marriage. This is because women are expected to be virgins on their wedding night. If this is the case, a woman’s virgin status is even higher. That’s why the Arab world has a high demand for sex workers.
In the Arab world, however, there’s an almost religious war on women. In Algeria, a salafist brigade keeps an eye on women’s bodies throughout the summer, and radical imams and Islamist TV preachers work up local youth to fight sex in public places. In public spaces, couples are often chased by police. Gardens and benches are closed to lovers strolling by. Innocent dreams of a Muslim paradise have no place here.
In Egypt, homosexuality is illegal. The police routinely punish homosexual men. Girls are frequently subject to genital mutilation, with 80% of girls undergoing this procedure. In Egypt, the method of abortion is known as “prick-and-stick.” Men are also subjected to pimps’ temporary “summer marriages.”
Before the Egyptian revolution, the Egyptian pimp organised thousands of marriages a year between rich Saudi men and virgins. These girls are usually kept with their ‘husbands’ for between 10 days and two weeks. These marriages usually last as long as five days, and some girls have as many as half a dozen’marriages’ a year. And in some cases, the women have to take the burden of responsibility for others.