Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

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. Her book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate life in a Changing Arab World examines how sex is highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society. 


Shereen El Feki

Comments [9]

kevin from ULS

she sounds like a disembodied voice talking from another room,giving us preachy rather obvious textbook answers. borefest.

Mar. 16 2013 06:53 AM
laura miller from North Bergen, NJ

The world over, excessively repressive sexual mores, obsessed with female "purity," invariably breeds hypocrisy and abuse. Nonetheless, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's views on sexuality and family life are disheartening for their assumption that women are the weaker sex and therefore need to be monitored and guarded like children or wayward sheep.

I have no problem with Leonard's "dispassionate" style, or his efforts to compare practices and beliefs in Egypt with other countries, whether majority Sunni or Shi'a, Arab or not. One corrective though: "Bollywood" films are not Hindu. In fact many of its most famous actors, directors, writers, and musicians are Muslims. As for onscreen kissing (before or after marriage), that taboo was broken some years ago, especially in films appealing to India's growing Middle Class. One man, or woman, can't know everything, and I appreciate Leonard's efforts to deal with so many diverse cultures and subjects day-in and day-out.

Mar. 15 2013 06:34 PM

Please, stop calling excision woman's circumcision. How would men like to have the head of their manhood completely cut off ? That's what excision is about. And please, stop finding excuses for still letting it happen in these days and ages. Women have the right to have pleasure the same way men do. I'm fed up with all the crap about cultural differences. Excision is a crime and a torture. Period.

Mar. 12 2013 09:43 PM
Anonymous from Manhatan

Barbaric practices...

Mar. 12 2013 12:32 PM
Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

Wonderful character of natural people and natural diversity, like she actually knew her subjects! (and other 'pundits' have has us in the dark for years and years).

Mar. 12 2013 12:32 PM
Aviv from New York

I. The author, El Feki, is very knowledgeable and passionate. But she also sounds angry. There is a fine line between expressing passion and anger. Did anyone else notice this?
In contrast, the interviewer, Mr. Lopate I believe, sounds very distanced and dispassionate. For him the struggle for communicating modesty through the Hijab in order to gain freedom is an impersonal topic. He brings up an example from Iran to ask a question about Egypt... Iran is way outside the Arab world...
His impersonal style stuggests that he might as well be asking a mathematician about his favorite primary number, and then musings about prime of primes, or some other related topic.
II. But in the West we're trained and told that we've to present our personhood in public in an impersonal way.
Indeed, the who point of psychological therapy is to be able to talk about personal things from a shared, impersonal, and universal, perspective.
Good old El Feki has not gone to therapy on the topic of sexual intimacy in the Arab world. She wrote a book about it instead.
And Mr. Lopate, it seems, has been to therapy on all topics. Or perhaps never needed therapy to begin with.

Mar. 12 2013 12:29 PM
mike from nyc

Traditional Arabic saying:P

"Boys are for pleasure, girls are for procreation."

Please address this. Incidence of child rape from Afghanistan to Saudi A to Morocco is rampant and denied but commonly known.

Mar. 12 2013 12:26 PM
john from office

These people are backward and don't below in the USA. Sorry, these are not westeern thinkers. They have alot of child rape and men on boy rape and then kill each other for being gay. Please, lets close the door on these people.

Len, to compare rape in the USA to mass rape in a war zone is a bit much.

Mar. 12 2013 12:19 PM
oscar from ny

...these ppl are taught since infancy that men is better, stronger,sexier than woman, so when they grow up they have or feel they have the right to beat, rape, humiliate woman. Many of these men are so departed from woman or girls that they grow pedopholiac or intimate feelings towards boys and men, they do anything to entertain these feelings,..haven't you notice why these popes abuse kids left from right...when a human only learns one thing its hard for them to distinguished the other...these arabs practice apartheid with their counterparts...they really care what their society wich is based on only men laws care...these ppl need to learn from whomever that men and woman are to be one...that's if your gay that's fine because most gay men are very sensitive its not that...these arabs need to start loving their girls more than they love themselves and their mab friends...its that freaking simple.
Ps: I have many arabs friends and they get really shy when they watch belly dancing females...I'm like wtf??

Mar. 12 2013 12:10 PM

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