Sex revolution in the Arab world?
My grandmother is back home… she was busy last few weeks in a pilgrimage that included Shmeisani, Weibdeh, Swileh, Abu Nseir and Aqaba….basically her sons and daughters’ homes… she goes on this pilgrimage at least twice a year. This way she makes sure she visits everyone or she تصل الرحم as we would say in Arabic…. a literal translation is to connect the womb… Man Arabic language is brilliantly rich!
Anyway, she is home, and therefore our TV is almost completely dedicated to two channels… Iqraa and Rotana Music! Yup, I understand the gap is huge… but who am I to object, when she says
A day for you and a day for God…
I have been watching a lot of Arabian music video clips lately. Again and again, the audacity displayed there, is mesmerizing… There is a fierce current of resistance against the rigid social rules of 7aram and 3eib ( حرام وعيب) that govern our lives in the Middle East and that hold us all to higher moral standards. This current revolves around one thing… sexuality!
TV is still the most widely used medium in the Arab world, and the contradictions that are highlighted by this medium are massive. While some innocent girls get killed for honour almost on weekly basis these days, Arab sex symbols slither their curvy bodies and low cut dresses on Arabian national TVs almost constantly to the delight of the masses, which makes me wonder if we are at the threshold of a sex revolution in the Arab world?
There is something taking place, it is new and it is, definitely revolutionary. What is interesting about it is that there has been no obvious evolutionary process involved… it happened swiftly, sometime in last ten years, as a result of globalization and IT revolution. Young Arabs discovered a new sphere that allows them to bypass the strict social rules. Thousands, if not millions, of young Arabs are tuning to cyber forums and social-networking sites such as Facebook, chatting, posting videos on YouTube and Ikbis and writing blogs, most of them with overtly social and sexual themes. (Contrary to what the world thinks..i.e. politics)
The question that poses itself here is how does this revolution affect Arab societies, especially that intellectual discussion about sex is still not afoot with what is taking place in reality?
If I take a quick glance around me, I see that sex education is still not a priority in the educational systems, and if it is, teachers are still not qualified. Arabs still have a false feeling of safety, which explains why the Middle East is the second fastest spreading HIV epidemic in the world. Today there are around 380,000 reported cases. Last year alone 36,000 new cases were reported in the Arab world in comparison to 15,000 in the whole continent of Europe! The whole continent with all its liberalism and freedom and sexuality….
So where are we? What are the ramifications of this revolution on our societies? Are we going to catch up with our ancestors in the prime of the Islamic empire, who celebrated sexuality and understood the value of the intellectual debate? And how are we going to protect our youngsters whose first line of protection (I.e. culture and traditions), that had, seemingly, been working for us is failing to protect them?
Now in the spirit of sexuality and HIV, I recommend the movie all about my mother. I have probably written about it previously… but I still think that Almodovar is the only director who can get away with such concepts in such a creative way. It is an interesting watch.