Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World

Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World

Paperback Chatto & Windus

By (author) Shereen El-Feki

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  • Publisher: CHATTO & WINDUS
  • Format: Paperback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 153mm x 234mm x 27mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 7 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0701183160
  • ISBN 13: 9780701183165
  • Edition statement: Trade Paperback.
  • Sales rank: 108,460

Product description

"Important, brave and necessary". (Naomi Wolf). As political change sweeps the streets and squares, parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at 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 and tradition, politics and economics, gender and generations, so it makes the perfect lens for examining the region's complex social landscape. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the Arab region, and brings new voices to the debate over its future. This is no peep show or academic treatise. Sex and the Citadel is a highly personal, often humorous, account of one woman's journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate, and in the process, better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Tunisia to Qatar, Sex and the Citadel gives us unique and timely insight into everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing in front of our very eyes.

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Author information

Shereen El Feki is a writer, broadcaster, and academic who started her professional life in medical science before going on to become an award-winning journalist with The Economist and a presenter with Al Jazeera English. She is former vice-chair of the UN's Global Commission on HIV and the Law, as well as a TED Global Fellow. Shereen writes for a number of publications, among them the Huffington Post. With roots in Egypt and Wales, Shereen grew up in Canada; she now divides her time between London and Cairo.

Review quote

"Important, brave and necessary" Naomi Wolf "Compelling, revelatory... No one can be sure where the Arab awakening will lead now -- towards fiercer sexual controls or a slight relaxing of them. The one thing El Feki is sure of is that there will be no seismic shifts. This will be evolution, not revolution" -- Jenni Russell Sunday Times (Culture) "Fascinating" -- Daisy Goodwin Mail on Sunday "Frequently eye-popping. The stories emphasise just how bewildering the issue of sex has become across the Middle East" -- Nicholas Blincoe Daily Telegraph "A fascinating survey of sex that is rich in detail" The Economist "Highly researched and refreshingly amusing... an honest appraisal of a culture and religion in turmoil" -- Malu Halasa Times Literary Supplement "In talking to ordinary people as well as sex therapists and sociologists, El Feki has been able to produce an original portrait of the region's youth that sheds light on the condition of women, failing education and health systems, and the uses and abuses of religion to reinforce the status quo" -- Rhoula Khalaf Financial Times "Serious and ground-breaking study of what goes on in bedrooms away from the public turmoil taking place in Egypt. It also reappraises the sexual history of the Arab world" GQ "Dr El Feki's position as a western-educated female Muslim, both insider and outsider... gives the book an invaluable perspective and a differnet kind of authority" -- Faramerz Dabhoiwala Observer "This is a principled book, robustly educative and illuminating without consenting to the kind of vacant voyeurism that the intimate life veiled by Islam can provoke in unthinking outsiders" -- Shahidha Bari Times Higher Education Supplement "In her sweeping, finely researched and fascinating book Shereen El Feki spends five years travelling the Arab world asking intimate questions of the most private people on Earth. She speaks to disaffected wives, single mothers, sex workers, agony aunts, Koranic scholars, infertility specialists. Her findings are endlessly intriguing... Where this book excels is in locating the territory in which traditional morality collides with the encroaching modern world" -- Janice Turner The Times "In her sweeping, finely researched and fascinating book Shereen El Feki spends five years travelling the Arab world asking intimate questions of the most private people on Earth... Her findings are endlessly intriguing" -- Janice Turner The Times

Editorial reviews

Shereen El Feki has done something important, brave and necessary. By investigating what sexual experiences and values are in the Arab world, rather than projecting views on them ideologically, El Feki insists on our taking seriously and urgently major social issues -- from cliterodectomy to adultery in a traditional context to passion itself -- that are shrouded in myth, taboo and disinformation. She has done a major service to those who care about feminism in this region, about human rights, about sexuality, and about the human condition.