Arab scholarship of sexuality is currently emerging against many obstacles. This article provides a suggestive introduction to the current state of knowledge in the area. After briefly sketching an archetype of Arab sexuality, especially its peculiar form of phallocracy, new sexual trends are reviewed, some of which adapt current practices to Shari'a law (e.g., visitation marriages), while others break with it altogether (e.g., prostitution). The article then discusses three distinctive areas of public and policy concerns in the region, namely, honor killings, impotence and Viagra use, and sex-education programs that are precipitated by concerns over HIV/AIDS. The essay concludes with an assessment of some of the main challenges still facing research into the topic in the Arab Islamic world.
When HIV Meets Government Morality
Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi
In Iran, as in many countries worldwide, misinformation and ignorance of HIV/AIDS have encouraged a culture of secrecy and anonymity for those living with HIV. For many HIV-positive women, religious, political and economic pressures complicate their social status and access to health care. Moreover, they must contend with societal discrimination and stigmas associated with the condition. Adding nuance to contemporary studies on gender and sexuality in Iran, this report highlights the colourful narratives of a select group of HIV-positive mothers attending weekly wellness workshops in Tehran. Discussing issues of intimacy, modesty, motherhood and stigmatisation, this article explores one of Iran's expanding communities at risk of infection and the ways in which women with HIV negotiate the stigma of their condition in an Islamic Republic.
The Disappearance of Sexual Discourse in the Late Ottoman Middle East
From Belgrade to Baghdad, from Algiers to Aleppo, sexual discourse in the pre-modern Ottoman world was rich and variegated. Its manifestations were to be found in literature and poetry, in medicine and physiognomy, in religious writings and popular culture. During the nineteenth century, much of this panoply of discussions about sex disappeared or was attenuated to such an extent that it became virtually non-existent. A similar phenomenon can be perceived in Western European attitudes toward sex several decades earlier. Yet while in Europe the old sexual discursive world was replaced with a new one in short order, the Ottoman Middle East did not produce a new sexual discourse to replace the one that vanished. This article presents some of the premises of the old Ottoman sexual discourse, describes the process of their demise, and suggests an explanation for the failure to produce a new (textual) discourse of sex.
New to Berghahn Journals in 2020: The Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities
Girls and Women Forge New Paths
Sonya Sharma. 2015. Good Girls, Good Sex: Women Talk about Church and Sexuality. Fernwood Publishing. 112 pp. $21.00. ISBN 978-1-5526-6438-4 (paperback)
Secular constraints, Muslim freedoms
Katherine Pratt Ewing
Terms of a Western discourse of homosexuality shape conflicts surrounding sexual identity that are faced by many Muslims, especially those who live in diasporic communities. Many use essentialized categories to articulate their sexual orientations and express incommensurabilities between their sexuality and their identities as Muslims. This article argues that discursive constructions of the Muslim as traditional other to the secular sexual subject of a modern democracy generate an uninhabitable subject position that sharply dichotomizes sexual orientations and Muslim family/religious orientations, a dichotomization that is reinforced by well-publicized backlashes against open homosexuality in several Muslim countries. Yet observations made during ethnographic field research in Pakistan, as well as scholarly evidence from other Muslim countries, suggest that many Muslims are less troubled by sex and desire in all their possible forms than they are by the peculiar modern practice of naming our sexualities as the basis for secular public identities.
Michael G. Cornelius
In the Nancy Drew mystery series, whenever the subject of marriage arises, Nancy interrupts the conversation or changes it altogether. Rather than discuss or confront issues of sexuality, Nancy forestalls any mention of marriage and the ensuing responsibilities (and identity shifts) that it—and mid-century womanhood in general—implies. Interruption, as both a conversational tactic and a social act, can be used by women to assert agency. Thus for Nancy, interruption is a means of holding off her impending womanhood and extending the enviable position she now maintains—that of girl sleuth.
The New Wave of Finnish Girls' Literature
This article examines four works of contemporary Finnish girls' literature. The main focus is on the analysis of various aspects of sexuality represented in the novels in relation to these two questions: How do they depict adolescent female sexuality in comparison to the generic conventions and the history of girls' literature? Do the representations expand, change, preserve and/or challenge the genre? The noticeable change is that the desire and love depicted in contemporary Finnish girls' literature can be lesbian and bisexual. However, although these representations of sexuality challenge some generic limits, the genre characteristics of girls' literature seem to have remained relatively unchanged.
Notes on an ethnography of secularism
Oskar Verkaaik and Rachel Spronk
In Europe today, the most heated identity politics revolve around matters of sexuality and religion. In the context of “integration” debates that occur in different forms in various countries, sexuality has gained a new form of normativity, and new sexual sensitivities have replaced former ones. So far, scholarly discussions deal with these sensitivities in a deconstructivist and critical manner, denaturalizing discourses on culture, identity, and religion. However, these debates do not consider the experiences of people implicated in these debates, and their often emotional and political engagement in matters where sexuality and religion intersect. Joan Scott’s coinage of the term “sexularism” denotes a particular form of embodiment that is part of secularism in Europe today. Rather than studying the discourse of secularism, this article focuses on the practice of secularization; how do people fashion their daily lives concerning sexuality, religion and its intimate intersection?