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Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World Paperback – 7 Mar 2013
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"Important, brave and necessary" (Naomi Wolf)
"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)
"A fascinating survey of sex that is rich in detail" (The Economist)
"Highly researched and refreshingly amusing... an honest appraisal of a culture and religion in turmoil" (Malu Halasa Times Literary Supplement)
"In talking to ordinary people as well as sex therapists and sociologists, El Feki has been able to produce an original portrait of the region's youth that sheds light on the condition of women, failing education and health systems, and the uses and abuses of religion to reinforce the status quo" (Rhoula Khalaf Financial Times)
"Serious and ground-breaking study of what goes on in bedrooms away from the public turmoil taking place in Egypt. It also reappraises the sexual history of the Arab world" (GQ)
"Dr El Feki's position as a western-educated female Muslim, both insider and outsider... gives the book an invaluable perspective and a differnet kind of authority" (Faramerz Dabhoiwala Observer)
"This is a principled book, robustly educative and illuminating without consenting to the kind of vacant voyeurism that the intimate life veiled by Islam can provoke in unthinking outsiders" (Shahidha Bari Times Higher Education Supplement)
"In her sweeping, finely researched and fascinating book Shereen El Feki spends five years travelling the Arab world asking intimate questions of the most private people on Earth. She speaks to disaffected wives, single mothers, sex workers, agony aunts, Koranic scholars, infertility specialists. Her findings are endlessly intriguing.... Where this book excels is in locating the territory in which traditional morality collides with the encroaching modern world" (Janice Turner The Times)
"In her sweeping, finely researched and fascinating book Shereen El Feki spends five years travelling the Arab world asking intimate questions of the most private people on Earth... Her findings are endlessly intriguing" (Janice Turner The Times)
A fascinating, groundbreaking look at sexual attitudes and behaviours in the Arab world, against the backdrop of this decade's popular uprisingsSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
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? We need investigation of reasons behind the prohibition of sexuality in Arab and Muslim societies rather stating conservative social practices. We need to hear voices that explore the relationship between democracy and freedom of speech with developing openness of women's sexuality, we need to hear voices which explore the relationship between how the state's protection of individuals in democratic society contributes to more openness in expressing sexuality etc.
Having said that, the author at least attempted to give an exposure of a serious topic which is difficult, if not a taboo, for Arab and Islamic societies to discuss or explore. I think it is high time to move to investigating critically and in-depth the political, psychological and economical reasons behind the prohibition of sexuality expression in Muslim and Arab societies rather getting stuck with descriptive account of these societies' unfree practices.
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.
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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