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.
Jonathan A. Allan, Chris Haywood and Frank G. Karioris
Men’s prostate orgasms, cuckold culture, breastfeeding fathers, and erectile dysfunction technologies have epithetically signaled how men’s bodies, sexualities, and masculinities have exceeded the gender and sexual order of modernity. A proliferation of practices, discourses, and affects that appear to denaturalize and decenter Western epistemologies of the erotic have generated a number of sociocultural uncertainties around how we understand men and their bodies. Gender and sexual identities that have been veridically located within and on the body are becoming increasingly dispersed. Jeffrey Weeks (2007) suggests that the unifying ideologies about sexuality and gender, promulgated through traditional authorities of the church, the family, and conventional morality, have acted to stabilize the norms and values in place. He suggests that the ideological hold of such authorities has become broken “by decades of challenge and change and eroded by the dissolving powers of global flows, economic modernization, and cultural transformations, as well as by the will for change represented by the everyday choices of countless millions” (2007: 109). The impact of such shifts has been realized in the form of broader social and cultural realization and public reflexiveness about the ontological myths that have pervaded men’s identities and practices. In short, the mimetic connection between men’s bodies, identities, and practices has been fractured, resulting in increasing awareness of the heterogeneity of what it means to be a man. One of the impacts of this development has been attempts to nostalgically re-establish the old ontological certainties about men and reconstruct a truth of gender and sexuality. It is at this moment, in the slipstream of increasing media scrutiny, political concern, and broader social and cultural interrogation about what it means to be a man, that this journal locates itself.
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.
In this article, I reconsider the early work of artist Rebecca Horn as situated at the threshold of complex new theoretical, political, and artistic movements. Horn’s performance pieces of the late 1960s and early 1970s formally echo this social upheaval, vibrating with tension between intimacy and isolation, pleasure and pain, human and machine. Horn’s prosthetic sculptures gesture toward a continuity between body and world reminiscent of the Radical Freudian concept of Eros, echoed in the body art and sexual liberation movements of the 1960s, in which the body becomes a fluid expression of polymorphous, nonbinary desire. The sinister backdrop of postwar Germany, however, haunts the artist’s work to the extent that silence becomes a motif of its own. Through her work, I ask the question: can the oceanic vision of a genderless Eros be realized, while the wounds of atrocity and of patriarchy are still inscribed on the body, or must polymorphous fluidity remain a fantasy, a utopia deferred?
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.
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) In Good Girls, Good Sex: Women Talk about Church and Sexuality , Sonya Sharma explores the
Counter-Ethics of Gender and Sexuality in an Indian Dream Analysis
of Hindu myth associated with desire and longing. In Sikander’s paintings, the gopis often appear as masses of female nudes, portraying female sexuality and its disruptive capacity by engaging motifs from Rajput and Bhasoli genres, as well as other
Sexual Subject? Desired Object?
Mary Ann Harlan
Historically, adults have concerned themselves with youth and sexuality, particularly in relation to girls ( Driscoll 2002 ). Primarily, two narratives dominate: “sexuality as risk; and sexuality as resistance” ( Kehily 2012: 226 ). When issues of desire and