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Sex and the Citadel

Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World

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**Kirkus Best Books of the Year (2013)**

If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms.
As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home—in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative, insightful, and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society.
Sex is entwined in religion, tradition, politics, economics, and culture, so it is the perfect lens through which to examine the complex social landscape of the Arab world. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, from sex work to same-sex relations, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the region and brings new voices to the debate over its future.
This is no peep show or academic treatise but a highly personal and often humorous account of one woman’s journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate and, in the process, to better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research, Sex and the Citadel gives us a unique and timely understanding of everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing before our eyes.

From the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 26, 2012 – "When it comes to sexuality," El Feki writes, "the Arab world can seem like a citadel." For her assault upon that fortress, she mobilizes medical expertise, reportorial skills, and personal experience as a Cairo-based journalist (currently vice-chair of the U.N.'s Global Commission on HIV and Law) and the daughter of an Egyptian father. It's all here: matchmaking, diverse forms of marriage ("official," "unofficial," "summer"), anal sex, oral sex, sexual positions, sexual dysfunction, impotence, infertility, domestic violence, virginity (testing, proving, losing, restoring), female genital mutilation, abortion, illegitimacy, sex education, prostitution, "legal sex work," and LGBT issues. In linking young Middle Easterners making "rebellion against the head of state and openly defying the heads of their families," she makes a case for "sexuality a mirror of the conditions that led to uprisings." "Not an academic tome, nor a slice of Arab exotica," El Feki warns, as she dips into history (Flaubert's travels, al-Katib's thousand-year-old Encyclopedia of Pleasure), talks with diverse contemporaries (beauty parlor owner, female genital mutilation practitioner, herbalist, sex therapist, lawyer, talk show host), and bits of family history. Though El Feki's breadth and detail is wearying, she delivers a clear wakeup call: "The Arab region began this decade with a political big bang; how that will shape, and in turn be shaped by, sexual life is an open question."
Sex and the Citadel
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Middle East
  • Published: Mar 12, 2013
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 368 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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