By lex, on October 23rd, 2006
An occasional correspondent sends along this interesting bit on sex and the R.O.P. from the German magazine Spiegel. Worth reading all in its entirety, and not merely for the prurience that’s in it:
Rabat, Morocco. Every evening Amal the octopus vendor looks on as sin returns to his beach.
Which, you have to admit, is a novel way of opening a tale. I do not think it has been done before.
It arrives in the form of handholding couples who hide behind the tall, castle-like quay walls in the city’s harbor district to steal a few clandestine kisses. Some perform balancing acts on slippery rocks and seaweed to secure a spot close to the Atlantic Ocean and cuddle in the dim evening light. The air tastes of salt and hashish. On some mornings, when Amal finds used condoms on the beach, he wishes that these depraved, shameless sinners — who aren’t even married, he says — would roast in hell.
Dreary work, octopus vending. Can put a man straight out of sorts with his fellow men.
There’s more of course:
The sexual frustration of many young Arabs has countless causes, most of them economic. Jobs are scarce and low-paying, and most young men are unable to afford and furnish their own apartments — a prerequisite to being able to marry in most Arab countries. At the same time, premarital sex is an absolute taboo in Islam. As a result, cities across the Arab world — Algiers, Alexandria, Sana’a and Damascus — are filled with “boy-men” between 18 and 35 who are forced to live with their parents for the foreseeable future.
That I suppose, or take the shortcut to the 72 raisins virgins. Semtex, anyone? Love what you’re wearing, darling. Does it come with ball bearings, or…?
And even “over there” sex sells:
Muslim novelist “Nedjma” (“Star”), the author of “The Almond,” a successful erotic novel, describes Moroccan society as divided and bigoted. Despite progressive family and marriage laws, she says, the country is still controlled by patriarchal traditions in which men continue to sleep around and treat women as subordinates. It is a society in which prudishness and sexual obsession, ignorance and desire, “sperm and prayer” coexist. “The more repressive a society is, the more desperately it seeks an outlet,” says Nedjma, who conceals her real name because she has already been vilified on the Internet as a “whore” and an “insult to Islam.”
And of course, there’s variety. It’s all a part of life’s rich pageant:
Google Trends, a new service offered by the search engine, provides a way to demonstrate how difficult it is to banish forbidden yearnings from the heads of Muslims. By entering the term “sex” into Google Trends, one obtains a ranked list of cities, countries and languages in which the term was entered most frequently. According to Google Trends, the Pakistanis search for “sex” most often, followed by the Egyptians. Iran and Morocco are in fourth and fifth, Indonesia is in seventh and Saudi Arabia in eighth place. The top city for “sex” searches is Cairo. When the terms “boy sex” or “man boy sex” are entered (many Internet filters catch the word “gay”), Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the first four countries listed.
Which doesn’t necessarily make this * easier to understand.
But it doesn’t make it harder, either.
* 07-16-2018 Links Gone (was a Lex piece Sep 7, 2006 – “Another-piece-of-the-puzzle-falls-into-place” ; no replacements found – Ed.