[P4904] From the Bedroom to the Street: Projecting Gender and Sexuality in Public Places

Created by Nadine Sinno
Saturday, 11/18/17 5:30pm


In the past, binary, and mostly Eurocentric frameworks divided gendered and sexed Arab worlds into domestic vs. public realms, or culturally sanctioned vs. taboo practices and desires. Scholars of Arab communities continue to engage with and transform the discourses of gender and sexuality, and demonstrate the multiple intersections of the public, private, sanctioned and transgressive. This multidisciplinary panel seeks to contribute to a critical and transformative discourse of gender and sexuality by examining representations of gendered and sexualized public places in and beyond the Middle East.
When the state deliberately used sexual transgressions in order to intimidate protesters in public squares, we also witnessed push back from protesters, social networks, and artists. A blue bra became a symbol of a woman's right to her body, a body that the state must not violate. On the other hand, sexual transgressions, as in the case of the embrace of non-hetero-normative identities, can create spaces for empowerment and resistance. What is seen as transgressive has both the potential for pleasure and affirmation, or oppression and denial, and not always in predictable ways. This panel addresses questions including: Which public spaces become gendered and sexualized, and in what way? Who assumes the right to speak about sex and gender, and what terms and discourses do they chose? What are the effects of these discourses on actual bodies and body politics?
One paper examines Beirut graffiti that engages with rape, sexual harassment/sexism, and homosexuality and contends that young graffiti writers have expanded the public discourse on the street from one that venerates sectarian leaders and martyrs to one that engenders discussions of gender and sexual politics. Another paper examines the aftermath of wide-spread sexual assault, allegedly committed by organized gangs of North African men in a public plaza in Cologne on New Year's Eve of 2015. Initial narratives about hyper-sexualized Arab men as well as proper behavior of German women led to debates about ways sex and sexuality may be portrayed and discussed in and across German and migrant communities. A third paper explores themes of sexuality, single motherhood, and sexual harassment via film screenings and theater performances in Casablanca, paying attention to audience reception. A fourth paper analyzes Ghayeb, an Iraqi novel, and argues that the novel's portrayal of the systematic disabling and poisoning of women's bodies mirrors the destruction of public and private spaces in Baghdad.


Anthro; Lit



Amal Amireh

(George Mason University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Lucia Volk

(San Francisco State University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Presenter;

Nadine Sinno

(Virginia Tech)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Jess Newman

(Yale University)
Jess Newman is a Lecturer in Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University. Her courses include "North African Feminisms," "Anthropology of Public Health," and "Introduction to Medical Anthropology." Her dissertation, "Making the...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Kimberly Canuette Grimaldi

(University of Texas at Austin)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;