Saturday, March 1, 2008

Let's talk about Sex!

By Joseph El-Khoury

And why not? After all we are a bit fed up of politics. Lebanon is a mess, Iraq is a mess, Palestine is a mess, Sudan is a mess, and our discussions seems to lead nowhere. So why not turn our attention to an issue on which we can actually have an impact at least in our immediate surroundings.

About a year ago, a column written by a British Psychoanalyst for a National newspaper following the foiling of a terror plot targeted at nightclubs and young women in skimpy outfits caught my attention. Muslim and Arab men she claims are not having enough sex. This frustration fuels their hatred of the west and its sexually liberated society. This amazing statement was not backed up by any scientific evidence of any kind. In my humble and neutral opinion whether a typical Pakistani male has less frequent or less satisfying sexual interactions than your average white Caucasian Anglo-Saxon remains to be shown.

Whatever the case, we can now reassure this lady, that Arab men are getting a healthy dose of sexual activity. Or at least showing enough interest in the subject .The Arabdemocracy team noticed that, following our publishing of a story which included ‘Sex’ in its title (Sex Trade: Iraqi girls who become prostitutes in Syria) our Site meter recorded a surge in referrals to the site through Google using search terms with sexual connotations. These ranged from ‘Sex in Kuwait’ to ’9 years old girls in Iraq’ passing through ‘Syrian Lesbians’ and ‘Lebanon sex film’ but also included a number of more exotic queries that we will not reveal out of decency.

I find this strangely refreshing. Not that I am condoning the exploitation of men and women' sexuality for financial gain but because it is expected and contradicts the myth circulated in official and religious circles as well as on the blogosphere that the interest in sex is specific to western society. Some might still argue that, even if Arab men are looking for excitement through accessing pornographic material on the net, this phenomenon can be ascribed to the corruption of Arab society by these same imported western values. Abu Nuwas and other historical figures would disagree. There never was a pure Arab society, free of sin, and there will never be. Humans are humans after all and whatever the bigots say Sex is a natural human behaviour that we should be able to discuss without shame and fear.

I am hoping that next time someone enters ‘sex’ as a search term that Arabic Google will lead them to this post instead.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree on the Above!
Very interesting article.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure how the surge in readership when the topic is sex is an indication that Arab men are having sex and why prostitution and watching pornographic videos is an indication of a healthy sex life in the Arab world. Albeit if it harms none, do as ye will.

To lead a healthy sex life is to be comfortable with it. It doesn’t matter how often you have sex if you are in denial about it or feel culpable every time you do it, either because it’s premarital, anal, an orgy, or the person you’re sleeping with is of the same sex.

I watched “Caramel” last weekend and I was impressed by the bittersweet honesty of the women in the movie and saddened by how unconnected men in general and Middle Eastern men in particular are to women and their needs. Sex is indeed a natural human behavior that should be discussed without shame or fear. This is however the problem. Engaging in sexual activities with prostitutes and watching pornographic films because this is the only way to serve your erotic needs is not an indication of healthy sexual practices. Larry Graig, the U.S. senator from Idaho has been preaching homophobia in the mainland while engaging in sexual activities with men at every airport and in every city in the Country. He looked pretty frustrated to me especially when he tried to convince the American public he is “not nor was ever gay” on public television.

I believe sexual activities generally relieve frustration but precisely when emotions are not repressed and fear of being caught or judged are non-existent.

The bigger question is why is the topic of sex and sexual activities so repressed in the Arab World? Is it cultural? Is it the result of a series of unfortunate events including political defeats, Palestine, Israel, the “crusaders”, Iraq, the growth in religious extremism, dictatorship, poverty? Uncertainty, wars, fears, etc. have frequently resulted in a surge of social conservatism in societies everywhere including in the Arab world. Remember that gays were blamed for 911 eight years ago in America.

Marwan -