‘Reclaiming Arabic As a Language of Sex’

Very interesting piece on language and sexuality in Arabic culture. Some good questions are brought up like how certain forms of expression were tolerated and encouraged in medieval Islamic culture but have since become taboo.


Editor’s update, August 23: El Feki’s ‘Sex and the Citadel’ Makes Guardian First Book Award Longlist

Sarah Irving is attending the Edinburgh fest-a-thon. She reports:

By Sarah Irving

Sex and the Citadel calligraphy from websiteThe cover of the Canadian edition of Shereen el-Feki’s Sex and the Citadel is a stunning piece by Iraqi calligrapher Wissam Shawkat. Arabic script twines in and out, forming the shape of a female torso. The words are all long-forgotten Arabic terms for sex.

The beautiful, complex symbolism behind the image suits Shereen El-Feki’s book admirably. As she told an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Arabic language has – or used to have – over a thousand verbs just for the act of having sex. Classical Arabic manuscripts in collections of rare books are filled with joyous and highly explicit descriptions of sex – not macho, male-focused sex, but sex which speaks of equality, female pleasure and…

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