Sex and the Citadel

Sex and the Citadel

Intimate Life in A Changing Arab World

Book - 2013
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In the political unrest that swept across the Arab region in 2011, all eyes were on the streets and squares erupting in protest. But for the past four years, Shereen El Feki has been looking at upheaval a little closer to home -- in the sexual lives of men and women across the Arab world. The result is Sex and the Citadel, an informative, insightful and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society.

Sex might seem a strange lens with which to examine change in the Arab world; it is, in fact, a prism with which to refract the region's complex social spectrum. Sexual attitudes and behaviours are intimately bound up in religion, culture, politics and economics. As such, they are not only a reflection of the conditions that led to the recent uprisings, as well as one of the engines of revolt, but will also be a measure of hard-won reforms in the
years to come.

Sex and the Citadel is no peep show. By linking sexuality to political, economic, social and religious trends, it opens a window on the greater landscape of the Arab world, both for readers new to the region whose interest has been sparked by recent events, and for old hands familiar with the Arab world. Nor is the book an academic treatise: this is a highly personal account, rich with original research and first-person stories, that gives us unprecedented and timely insight into a part of the world that is transforming in front of our very eyes.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, [2013]
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780385666435
Branch Call Number: 306.70956 ELF
Characteristics: xxi, 345 pages ; 25 cm


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Jan 24, 2014

An in-depth look at sexuality in the Arab world, though the book primarily focuses on Egypt. This is definitely a book that needed to be written; there are so many misunderstandings about the Arab world on the part of Westerners and Arabs themselves that anyone stands to learn a few things by reading this book.

Vilka Apr 26, 2013

Offers an interesting view into some of the attitudes, traditions and difficulties in relations (not only sexual) between men and women in the Arab world (though concentrating on Egypt), and how these relate to the greater social changes being attempted in recent years. It does get a bit annoying sometimes how the author seems to attribute all social activity and political change directly to sex, but then again, we've also heard physicists saying everything boils down to physics, economists say everything boils down to money, etc, so you can shrug that off. Some individuals presented as marvellous beacons for change seemed to me more like outliers on the far extreme of the issue, but there were plenty of ordinary people in the middle ground to balance that out. Overall an interesting look into private life that touches on issues like marriage and divorce, reproductive difficulties, contraception, female circumcision, gender equality (or lack thereof), and the changes in social standards between generations--for example, how did customs of dress and social behaviour became so conservative in recent years compared to the younger days of modern Egyptian adults' grandparents? A decent and not-too-heavy read.

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