On February 12, 2016, an Algerian writer, Kamel Daoud, wrote a perceptive article on the obscene levels of sexual repression in the Arab World. As someone who has traveled and lived in at least five of them between 1987 and 2003, I would have to concur with what Mr. Daoud has written, for the most part. Egypt I would agree with; the country has lost its soul. Morocco, Tunisia and even Algeria–at least in 1989–were exceptions, somewhat.
The responses to the article were predictable, nearly all of them coming from Westerners, many of whom had traveled to the Gulf States. My personal response was NO SHIT. The Gulf Region is the armpit of Islam itself. Everything they practice and preach goes tangent to reality and sanity, and even the Koran itself. The satraps of the Gulf States, as well as their ISIS henchmen who cannibalize children and slice off women’s breasts for kicks, are in the business of grabbing power from ignorant, frustrated and uneducated people; they don’t give a shit about religion, Islamic or otherwise. Islam is a pretext, a smokescreen for implementing some misguided Nietzschean Superman ideal of controlling the masses. It is not hyperbole to say this, especially when one notes that these fat, greasy oil sheiks and Arabian princes have carte blanche within and without the Gulf Region to do absolutely anything they want. And with few exceptions, they usually do just that. Rarely do they get arrested, save for this notable incident, which is most likely the tip of the iceberg.
Those who read and commented on Daoud’s article put the blame on 1,500 years of Islam and Arabism, while blissfully forgetting that the salacious Thousand and One Nights came out of that exact same Arab Islamic milieu. The Perfumed Garden, admittedly a piece of racist pornographic drivel, was crafted over 500 years ago in benighted, super-repressed North Africa–most specifically Tunisia, where frustrated and confused young men occasionally blow themselves to shit with misguided Wahhabi notions swirling around in their skulls.
A book such as Leg over Leg, written by a Lebanese writer in the late 19th century, would have never seen the light of publication in the New York or London of that time. (It was published in Paris in 1855, however.) While Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq wrote extensively about female genitalia, and in the most graphic detail imaginable; while Andre Gide found his sexual awakening with teenage Tunisian boys in isolated sand dunes, Oscar Wilde was getting raked over the coals for his homosexuality in “enlightened” England. And Walt Whitman was repeatedly ostracised and held in contempt for pinning sexually coy poems such as “Calamus” or “Children of Adam.” Well, “limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous” and “love-flesh swelling” aren’t that coy, but it’s still a far cry from Leg over Leg.
Those who are chiming in with this article forget what the U.S. was like 70 years ago, when a black man could and did get his balls cut out of him (and worse) for whistling at a white woman (Emmett Till??), when being gay was considered a mental illness and grounds for imprisonment, when oral sex could land you in jail for a number of years, when possessing and distributing pornography could also land you in jail for a number of years…and where, by contrast, in Egypt, pornography was turned out by the truckloads, and where the social life was so licentious that Lawrence Durrell forever immortalized it in his Alexandria Quartet. The white West whines about the hysterical prudery of Saudi Arabia while forgetting that 150 years ago (and at the outset of Wahhabism!) prostitutes used to tempt pilgrims regularly while attempting to do the Hajj. What happened? European colonialism happened. It was the Europeans and more significantly the Americans and their old-fashioned, uptight Protestant views on sexuality that did the most significant damage to the Muslim world’s views concerning sex. And even today, sex is less of a hassle in places like Morocco or certain parts of Tunisia or Lebanon than it is in my stuffy-assed hometown of Adelphi, Maryland, let alone some asshole state such as Utah or Alabama. So it is good to put all of this insanity into some historical perspective.
This link, and the pictures below should give the lie to the notion that today’s “Islam,” which is an absolute abomination funded by CIA stooges (shades of Naked Lunch and Islam, Inc.), has anything to do with what Islam once was. Especially concerning sexuality. Note: these pics are not for the squeamish!!
The above examples are from modern-day Iran and Pakistan. How things have changed since the good old days.
Thank you very much!