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Sex And The Arab World

Sex and the Arab world. Shereen El Feki takes us from behind the Saudi veil to the rough streets of Cairo.

Two veiled women look at the scantily dressed woman featured in a clothing store billboard in Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 10, 2004. (AP)

Two veiled women look at the scantily dressed woman featured in a clothing store billboard in Beirut, Lebanon, Aug. 10, 2004. (AP)

The Arab Spring may be sputtering.  They’re still in the streets of Cairo, but lately it’s been for sectarian standoffs and, too often, the abuse in the streets of women. Sexual abuse.

Pay attention to that realm, says Shereen El Feki. The realm of sex and power. Michel Foucault described sexuality as a “dense transfer point for relations of power,” El Feki reminds us. And it’s as true in the Arab world as anywhere else. But often less seen.

In her new book, “Sex and the Citadel,” Shereen El Feki puts it right up front.

This hour, On Point: sex and society – power – in the Arab world.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Shereen El Feki, author of “Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World.” (@shereenelfeki)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Ms. El Feki, who is of both Welsh and Egyptian descent, became drawn to her book’s subject matter while serving as vice chairwoman of the United Nations’ Global Commission on H.I.V. and the Law. She was knowledgeable and curious about sexuality, but how hard would she rock the casbah?”

The Economist “The Arab world today is widely criticised for its sexual intolerance. Women hide their charms under dark billows of fabric; girls have their genitals mutilated by elders determined to keep their desires in check; gay men are arrested and then raped by their jailers. Once upon a time things were different. The Prophet Muhammad urged his followers to satisfy their partners in the bedroom.”

Excerpt: ‘Sex And The Citadel’ by Shereen El Feki

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