Lebanon

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My Body Is Not My Body.

 

-Contributed by M/M to Bekhsoos: Queer Arab Weekly.

My body is a museum. Vials of spit and cum and sweat, now filed away and
cataloged. My tongue, tasting and discerning, like an aged wine, one lover
from another. Nudes posed deliciously, resting their heads on a pillow and
their legs spread wide. Oil canvasses of backs upright, bent, twisted and
knotted. Stone sculptures of limbs obscenely intertwined.

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“Panties and Bras Included”

Originally written by Lynn for Bekhsoos: Queer Arab Magazine.

Inspired by the march to “Take Back the Night” for International Women’s Day in Beirut, Lebanon. Dedicated to my good friend Zee who’s always pushing me to write myself into words.

March 9th 2011.

Take back the night because the morning after, at 25, you still have to argue with your mother who’s pleading that your father is unable to accept the fact that you’re coming home so late.

Take back the night because after marching for hours under heavy rain, chanting and screaming your feminist slogans, soaked in your clothes, you would rather stick to your friends instead of coming home to find all your clothes thrown on your bed and the floor. panties and bras included.

Take back the night because when you wake up at 8 AM the next day, your working mom, who should have been at work by 7:30 AM, is still home cleaning and cooking, while your unemployed father is out -not- finding a job again.

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Dirty Mouth: The Politics of Sex Talk in Public Spaces

I am a dirty mouth who needs to be silenced.

This is what constitutes my parents’ most profound struggle when, before our family Sundays, they remind me every time to “watch it”, keep my mouth shut, and smile. It also must be what my college teachers think of me in the back of their heads when they shake it in reprobation, calling me twisted and other equally dismissive verdicts that always start with: “You need help”. Even among my lesbian friends, I’m always “too much”. Putting aside the fact that I might be too intense, I am a dirty mouth not because I curse a lot or lose myself in interminable gossip sessions – far from that. I am a dirty mouth because I am vocal about sex.

So how do people talk about sex? In medical terms, of course, where sex becomes a necessitous act leading to reproduction for the perpetuation of the species, therefore a post-marital worry. When not explicit, it is hidden and normalized under masks of broader manifests of sexuality, such as inappropriate compliments in the work place and pick-up lines in the streets, otherwise known as “toltish”. However, when the “dirty” side of sex is tackled – that type of sex which only belongs to sheer, “immoral pleasure”, sex talkers find innovative ways to express themselves in complex, poetic terms. The use of extensive metaphors in order to avoid a direct statement suddenly becomes a piece of cake: We did “it”. She wanted to “eat me” but I said no. She still made me “happy” with her “tools”.

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Jismi.net: A Campaign for Sexual & Bodily Rights in Lebanon

Jismi.net is dedicated to the annual “One Day, One Struggle” campaign, a unique effort to underscore the joint struggle against the violation of sexual and bodily rights in Muslim societies, which takes place on November 9. (The Arabic word “Jismi” means “My Body” in English.)

This year, the Lebanon-based groups NasawiyaHelem and Meem developed an online video campaign focusing on bodily autonomy and sexual rights of individuals.

The videos feature people of different ages, gender expressions, religious affiliations and professional fields talking about the various experiences they were subjected to in terms of sexual and bodily oppression and the ways they were able to overcome these imposed restrictions to achieve complete autonomy and independence in their sexual and bodily choices.

The campaign aims to fill the gap created in dealing with issues related to the body and sexuality, as they are always considered private matters and taboos that shouldn’t be discussed. In addition to them being an integral part of human rights, sexual and bodily rights are a political matter regulated by legislations, rules, institutions and the state, as well as inherited social and cultural restrictions which affect the individual’s relationship with their body and sexuality and reshapes it using oppressive measures, stripping the individual of their autonomy.

Last year, groups held a panel on sexuality at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

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