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Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World Paperback – 23 Jan 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (23 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099526387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099526384
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,884 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Important, brave and necessary" (Naomi Wolf)

"Remarkable... Sex and the Citadel should be celebrated - not least for freeing voices silenced by a mixture of taboo and political repression. It provides crucial oxygen for discussions that will need more airing in the long, conflicted years ahead" (Rachel Halliburton Independent on Sunday)

"Compelling, revelatory... No one can be sure where the Arab awakening will lead now -- towards fiercer sexual controls or a slight relaxing of them. The one thing El Feki is sure of is that there will be no seismic shifts. This will be evolution, not revolution" (Jenni Russell Sunday Times (Culture))

"Fascinating" (Daisy Goodwin Mail on Sunday)

"Frequently eye-popping… The stories emphasise just how bewildering the issue of sex has become across the Middle East" (Nicholas Blincoe Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

Longlisted for the Guardian first book award, this is a fascinating, groundbreaking look at sexual attitudes and behaviours in the Arab world, against the backdrop of this decade’s popular uprisings

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has certainly given me food for thought and provoked thinking. So refreshing to get an unbiased, honest and knowledgeable read with real points of view and life experience on points of which people would otherwise be oblivious or try to ignore.
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The author has chosen a serious topic, but treated it in a superficial way. Does she think being young, woman and Muslim would justify writing on this serious topic with lack of rigour and at times shallow manner. Because her frequent references, to back evidences, from Egyptian friends, family and local stories and anecdotes, the book would have been better written as a novel rather an attempt as a rigorous study of this serious topic. I therefore thought perhaps the author's motivation to write on serious topic such this stemmed from her ambivalence about her loyalty to western upbringing and her father's religious influence.

One of her conclusions is that an authoritarian and patriarch social or family system normally leads to closed society in expressing sexuality. She referred to earlier Muslim ( Abasiate Muslim rule) culture as a culture that was open on sexuality and sex, but we all know that Islamic Abasiate rule was authoraterian and patriarch, so how come that such Islamic authoraterian and patriarchical had the capacity to be open about sex and sexuality! I think the writer has confused the sexual exploitation of women and men's obsession with sex and sexual pleasures during the Muslim Abasiate rule as a healthy sexual openness. Again the writer confuses the spread of pedophilia and having sex with young men during the Muslim Abasiate rule with openness of homosexuality at that time. It is well known fact that when sex with female is prohibited and a taboo in a given society men resort to pedophilia and having sex with young men.

Investigation of this topic should involve exploring a question such as why does authoraterian and patariach social set up lead to a sexually closed societies?
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Format: Paperback
Author Shereen El Feki has written an informative, insightful and extremely readable account of sex in Arab society, a largely hidden and often misunderstood aspect of life in the Muslim world. The area is shrouded in mystery and secrecy and is inevitably a sensitive area to probe into. By using real contexts and situations, and by referring to sexuality in the region throughout history, this accessible sociological examination of all aspects of sexual attitudes and practices opens up a world rarely looked into before. Shereen El Feki met and talked to all sorts of women – young and old, married, single and divorced, housewives and career women, mothers and daughters. She met too with a similar range of men. She talked with people from all walks of life, rich and poor, doctors and academics, teachers and clerics. She presents the reader with a myriad of personal stories plus a range of official and unofficial information and statistics.
With an impressive bibliography, many pages of notes, and an accompanying website where people can not only find out more but contribute their own thoughts and experiences, this is a really ground-breaking book, timely, thoughtful, sometimes upsetting, sometimes humorous, and of considerable importance and relevance to those both in the east and their western counterparts.
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Format: Paperback
Arabs tend to be hypocritical about their sex life. Men rule; women have to defend themselves and are forced to marry men they don't want. Read 'Sold' if possible, I found it in French, or 'Magic Lobsters and Flying Tagines' full of witchcraft, poisons, wheeling and scheming and very funny!
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Format: Paperback
Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El Feki was recommended to me by the author herself at The Unbreakable Rope panel discussion in London. An intimate account of life in a changing arab world, proclaimed the book cover.
I started reading it and thought "This is not telling me anything new. I've read it all before." However, after I read the chapter on FGM, the book became more fascinating and bold, creating a thought provoking and easy to read account of the sex lives of the indigenous population in the Arab world. It's not a warts and all account nor is it patronising in it's delivery. You read about real people, those in love, those who have experienced abuse, activists, educators, religious leaders and a whole array of individuals either fighting oppression and wanting acceptance and change or those who are entrenched in culture ruled by the patriarchs. Shereen delves deep into the minds of the older generations whilst maintaining a mutual respect and rapport with the young people she comes across. At the same time, she shares her personal experiences and anecdotes. This book covers many issues which are deemed taboo in Islam but this comes across in a very informative and educational manner. Topics such as FGM, lgbt, sex tourism, arranged/forced marriages, prostitution are frankly discussed and not dismissed as a tick box. It provides the oft neglected female perspective which is refreshingly neutral, and concludes that what the Arab/Muslim world needs is to change it's outlook on sex, sexuality, gender identity and orientation through education, funding, a revolution (set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring it's not surprising) and re-evaluation of what it means to be Muslim. The books main core is to have acceptance of others as well as self. We'll never have progress if we keep reverting and looking back at corrupted hadiths and bowing down to all forms of suppression. Highly recommended!
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