Wednesday, November 23, 2011

SEXtarianism: From Politics to the Bedroom

Happy Wednesday LOVEanese, and for all those in the States: happy Thanksgiving! Just a quick reminder. If you haven't "liked" LOVEanon on Facebook, go check it out. I post a lot of cool and quick links to articles/resources there because I use LOVEanon to post substantial information.

Now that the weekly housekeeping is out of the way... what's up with the title? Well, I think it's pretty clever, and it by no means is a demand for Lebanese institutions to stop discriminating based on sect and begin discriminating based on sex and gender (oh wait, they already do that). No, no... on the contrary, it just means let's educate ourselves and talk a bit about sex and sexual health.

For a long time I wanted to avoid this topic. This is a blog about love and relationships, not sex. But sex/physical acts are still a big part of many people's relationships. While they aren't necessarily connected, some Western scholars have noted a connection between romantic love and sex (C. Hendrick and S. Hendrick, 1989; Aron and Aron, 1991; Hatfield and Rapson, 1993; Sprecher and Regan, 1998; Kaestle and Halpern, 2007).

Although they may (or may not) be related, something I think we could all use a little more sexual education. Where can you get this information though? Let me introduce you to some of the best websites I've found that have real, quality sexual health resources and information:

1. The first is the best in my opinion: Kinsey Confidential. It has a lot of resources and articles that are written by scholars and professionals from the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University in the U.S. It's named after Alfred Kinsey, THE pioneer of sexual research. In addition, this site has really great links to sexual health resources.

2. Another highly-recommend sexual health and relationship resource is a blog authored by Dr. Justin Lehmiller called "The Psychology of Human Sexuality." It has a lot of great topics on it. I suggest you check it out as well, and follow him/the blog on Facebook and Twitter. He also often writes for the Science of Relationships, which is a premier relationship resource (including for topics related to sexuality!).

3. The third is Good in Bed. Like Kinsey Confidential, they use a lot of the existing and new research about sexuality to engage the readers. They also have cool links to new books, articles, and information regarding sex, romance, and sexual health.

3. The fourth is a blogger for the Huffington Post: Cara Santa Maria. You can check her blog posts out here. Regardless of what you think of the publication, she has some really cool links about love, romance, and sex. I really like this interactive infographic she posted about our brain when we fall in love.

4. The last one is called She Knows Love. It's a little more "Cosmo-esk," but of what I have read, I like it. By the way, on that note let me remind you to never, EVER believe anything you read in Cosmo.

Now if any of you are thinking "but these are things made for Americans and American audiences," you're right. They do have a lot of great, general information. But what's available for individuals in Lebanon or the Arab world regarding sexual resources?

One of them is the Marsa Sexual Health Center (Marsa means "anchor" in Arabic) which NOW Lebanon did a spotlight on as well. The first link also includes their location and contact information. It's in Beirut near Haigazian University in Clemenceau, and is also on Facebook via a group and a page (which also provides location contact info, and more). They "provide social, psychological, and medical services to all sexually active individuals in Lebanon regardless of gender, age, and sexual orientation in complete confidentiality."

Also, for an academic overview of sexuality in the Arab world see: Khalaf and Gagnon (Eds.) (2006). Some other interesting scholastic books and articles include: Mernissi (1971; 2001), Allen, Kilpatrick, and de Moor (Eds.) (1995), Brooks (1995), Abu-Lughod (1999) [1986], Hopwood (1999), Joseph (2005), Massad (2007), Khalaf and Saad Khalaf (Eds.) (2009).

So, now you have a few resources about sex... but that's not all I want to do with this post. If you notice, I didn't include any pictures making jokes and trying to entertain because it's not a joke. This is a very serious issue. I know I'm not the first to try and talk about it either. But today it really upset me today when a girl friend of mine called herself out for being different because she is open about her sexuality. Ladies and gentlemen, you don't need to be ashamed of it: embrace your sexuality, no matter if you're straight, gay, bi, somewhere in the middle, or no matter how public or private you wish it to be! It was at that moment impassioned words began to spew from my mouth that she shouldn't be bad, guilty, or dirty because she has a healthy outlook regarding sex. In fact, perhaps if more people were getting laid, people would be just a little bit happier and stop fighting like a bunch of spoiled rotten little kids so much.

Of course, your sexuality can include a wide range of practices. So, no matter how discrete or private you are about it, just stay educated. In a country where it's embarrassing to buy condoms from the neighborhood pharmacy, we have to be diligent about staying informed. I invite anyone to share their comments on how a lack of sexual education and sexual resources puts any kind of strain on romantic relationships, and also inform me of any other good sexual resources.

Feel free to disagree. Or agree. Just talk about it! This is your forum!

Spread the love (and make some if it floats your boat),

P.S. Seriously, stop reading Cosmo. Not kidding.


Abu-Lughod, Lila. 1999 [1986]. Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society.  Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Allen, Roger, Hilary Kilpatrick, and Ed de Moor (Eds.). 1995. Love and Sexuality in Modern Arabic Literature. London, UK: Saqi.

Aron, Arthur, and Elaine N. Aron. 1991. "Love and Sexuality." Pp. 25-48 in Sexuality in Close Relationships, edited by Kathleen McKinney and Susan Sprecher. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Brooks, Geraldine. 1995. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women. Harpswell, ME: Anchor Publishing.

Hatfield, Elaine, and Richard L. Rapson. 1993. Love, Sex, and Intimacy: Their Psychology, Biology, and History. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Hendrick, Clyde, and Susan S. Hendrick. 1989. "Research on Love: Does It Measure Up?"  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56: 784-794.

Hopwood, Derek. 1999. Sexual Encounters in the Middle East: The British, The French and The Arabs. Ithaca Press.

Joseph, Suad. 2005. "Learning Desire: Relational Pedagogies and the Desiring Female Subject in Lebanon." Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, 1(1): 79-109.

Kaestle, Christine Elizabeth, and Carolyn Tucker Halpern. 2007. "What’s Love Got to Do With It? Sexual Behaviors of Opposite-Sex Couples Through Emerging Adulthood." Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 39(3): 134-140.

Khalaf, Samir, and John H. Gangon (Eds.). 2006. Sexuality in the Arab World. London, UK:  Saqi.

Khalaf, Samir, and Roseanne Saad Khalaf (Eds.). 2009. Arab Society and Culture: An Essential Reader. London, UK: Saqi.

Massad, Joseph A. 2007. Desiring Arabs. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Mernissi, Fatima. 2001. Scheherazade Goes West. New York, NY: Washington Square Press.

----. 1975. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in a Modern Muslim Society. New York, NY: Schenkman.

Sprecher, Susan, and Pamela C. Regan. 1998. "Passionate and Companionate Love in Courting  and Young Married Couples." Sociological Inquiry, 68(2): 163-185.


  1. Thanks for all the links and resources Ogie :)
    Checking them out now.

    Keep up the good work with LOVEanon!

    Rola. xxx

  2. Very interesting article Oghie, much enjoyed reading it