Joumana Haddad

All day they dream about sex

Lebanese clerics

“Nothing optional – from homosexuality to adultery – is ever made punishable unless those who do the prohibiting (and exact the fierce punishment) have a repressed desire to participate”- Christopher Hitchens


Saying that prohibition is equal to incitement is no news. Many statistics tell us that Arabic is the most popular language for sex searches. So when no one is watching but Allah, virtuous Arab men are abundantly surfing porn sites and masturbating their frustrations away. No surprise there.


It makes you wonder, though: What’s the story with religion and sex, and why are all these religious leaders obsessed with the way we use our private parts? We are surrounded by phony puritans, from the late Osama bin Laden and his alleged stack of porn, to the saga of homosexual and pedophile priests around the world. Well, it can all be summed up in one word: control.


I was reminded of this issue when a dear friend of mine, who is about to get married, told me that he went to a religious marital consultation with his fiancée. He admitted he couldn’t get over his shock when the priest bluntly told them that position 69 is a sin, and that he and his wife should always pray before they make love. I almost burst out laughing, but the friend in question—a good Christian—was devastated. Can you imagine having to do the sign of the cross and perform a prayer before having sex? A prayer for what? A long-lasting erection? Talk about perversion!


Arab societies are afflicted with a deep divide. We are surrounded by people who are virtuous in public and debauched underground; people who are obsessed with sex, but cannot bring themselves to speak about it or practice it openly; people who lecture us on moral values and chastity, but couldn’t be further away from them; people who call for prayer and salvation from sins, but let off the pressure of their repressed urges and complexes in places where no one can see or hear them. We are a world of dirty little secrets, covered with a shiny wrap of Hail Marys and Allahu Akbars.


How many of such split characters are there in the Arab region? The list of cases is never ending,  like my “good” Christian neighbor who goes to mass every Sunday and beats up his wife every evening, or that “liberal” intellectual who blamed me for being too uptight in my clothing and then made a horrific scene at the restaurant where we were dining because he saw his sister come in wearing a miniskirt. Or that famous “leftist” novelist who pretends to defend women’s emancipation but doesn’t miss an opportunity to sexually harass any female who crosses his way.


In our culture, the notions of virtue and abstinence are considered synonyms, as are those of freedom and depravity, especially when it comes to women. It is the Casanova-versus-the-whore syndrome. Many women are still expected to be virgins until they get married, the notion of honor is tied up with what’s between a woman’s legs, and women’s bodies are considered manly acquisitions. A “liberated” adult woman is often seen as a slut, not as a person who rightfully decides what to do with her own body, whether that means sleeping with one guy, or five or none.  As for women who dare to enjoy sex, they are described as sick “nymphos”: a clinical term that describes a woman’s surrender to her unruly desires, and a denigrating word used with haughty condescension at best. (Men who behave in the same way are, of course, “studs.”)


What makes matters worse is that some women dare to claim that being treated with such condescension is their “choice.” Indeed, what is really painful in all this, at least to me, is how women accept this humiliation and compromise on their right to use their bodies as they choose. Mothers take the side of the family in honor killings, or observe a shameful silence, or drag their daughters to the gynecologist in order to fabricate a new hymen. These women have been brainwashed by centuries of patriarchal manipulation and compulsory denial, and chorus the lines that they have been taught by Arab fathers, Arab societies and most of all Arab religious milieus. Women are trapped by the old patriarchal feminine ideal that states that a female should not “gift” her body to a man unless he puts a ring on her finger first. For it is mostly men who decide what is the proper way for women to behave—the correct, respectable, ladylike way.


Now enlighten me, please: What do ethics have to do with how frequently (or not) I use my vagina? Who decided that the normal needs of my body conflict with my moral values? How does my freedom of choice insult my feminine identity? The real insult here is that many women have been led by religion to consider their body a thing, a present, and to believe that their body’s only use is to satisfy a man, not for giving themselves pleasure.


Christians are indoctrinated to believe sex is evil: You can have it, but only with the man (married, of course) on top of the wife (obedient and modest), and only for the purpose of creating children. Everything else is a wicked sin that will send you directly to hell.


As for Muslims, you be the judge. In 2012, the head of the Moroccan Association for Jurisprudence Research issued a fatwa allowing Muslim men to have sex with their just-deceased wives under the pretext that nothing in Islam prohibits sex with corpses, while Egyptian Salafists demanded the legalization of Islamic "sex-slave" marriages. Egyptian preacher Mustafa al-Adawi issued a religious edict prohibiting Muslim women from wearing high heels in public. Also in Egypt, Saad el Azhari Azhari objected to sex trafficking laws, saying they could conflict with the culture of marrying girls whenever they hit puberty. On fatwa websites, sex and sexuality are often primary concerns. “There’s no opposition to a husband sucking his wife’s breasts,” declares Kuwaiti cleric Ahmed al-Kurdi at islamic-fatwa.com. “But he should avoid drinking her milk.” At fatwa-online.com, the  Saudi scholar Ibn Uthaymin green-lighted a woman who had inquired about phone sex with her oft-traveling husband, though he noted that “It is befitting upon them both that they are careful no one listens to their speech or spies upon them.” On another site, we read that “a married couple may engage in oral sex as long as no semen is swallowed.” Everything is discussed in detail, from French kissing and sodomy to riding bicycles, breastfeeding your work colleague and using a laser to remove your pubic hair. It all makes you think: How could Allah—for those who believe in him—have time for such trivial matters, with everything that is going on in the world?


It also makes you think: Why do Islamists need porn at all? They have their fatwas.


There is no doubt about it: Religious fundamentalists think with their dicks. One final vivid proof of that is the hilarious fatwa disallowing women from eating phallic-shaped foods like cucumbers, bananas and carrots, because “touching or consuming those are bound to turn women on and make them engage in sinful fantasies.”


What’s next? Avoiding oranges and apples because they could remind women of balls?


On second thought, no danger there; those men don’t have any.


Follow Joumana Haddad on Twitter @joumana333


Joumana Haddad is author of many books, among which “I killed Scheherazade”. Her latest book, “Superman is an Arab—On God, marriage, macho men and other disastrous inventions” (Westbourne Press, London, 2012) is now available in Lebanese bookshops.

Why are all these religious leaders obsessed with the way we use our private parts?

It is mostly men who decide what is the proper way for women to behave – the correct, respectable, ladylike way.

  • Ghadi M.

    LebaneseTrendie, I have been following your comments on Mrs Haddad's writings here and there, and I find myself compelled to tell you a few things: 1- At least Mrs Haddad writes with her real name. So why don't you show us your face? Or are you too coward for that and prefer to hide behind a silly nickname? 2- You tend to over use the expression pseudo-intellectual: Are you short of words dear Trendie? Or is it that you are a pseudo intellectual yourself? I am more incline to believe the latter. 3- You are too full of yourself, narcissistic and condescendent. Your comments are based on trash, hate and insults. They don't help you to prove your point. 4- your comments also prove a certain psychosis: You'd better get treated for that. 5- you are clearly not just a "Lebanese Christian" (what a sad way to describe yourself), but a macho Lebanese Christian. Get treated for that too. Or stop writing all together.

    December 24, 2012

  • NoVo

    The stuation sketched here is the situation in the dark fifties in many countries in Europe. Luckily in 50 plus years this has changed for the better. Hopefully it will not take as long to positively change here in the region. And Lebanese Trendie: hahaha, you are such a predictable male...afraid to lose the old ways eh?

    December 21, 2012

  • Free_Man

    So many Lebanese are so stupid as to mix up between religion and faith.

    December 20, 2012

  • lamia.abiabdallah

    Great Article! So true. We live in a macho, false man society , led by men ordering women around, using religion to cover up for their stupidities and ours obviously because we accept them silently. We women should react and stand up to our equal rights. We are as capable, as educated and as active as any man, and no religion nor religious authority should be able to deny us equality. What is needed is to really seperate religion from our daily lfie and keep it strictly personal. One can be of any religion and can practice his or her religion in total freedom without imposing on the other. What do religious men know about sex and women anyway! If they were really worried bout religion only we would not be where we are now in Lebanon where religion and religious authorities have their noses where they do not belong. keep up the good work and courage to say out loud what most do not dare think of. Great article indeed!!!!!

    December 20, 2012

  • Religion has done great things for humanity and terrible things for humanity. Joumana is after the "shock factor". She is an unbalanced pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-feminist. She is playing the role of "feminist-bombast-and-iconoclast". She is cashing in on "bad exposure is better than no exposure" and she is attempting to be the female " shock jock pioneer" in the Arabic speaking world. She is as vulgar as the original shock jock vulgar Jew Howard Stern or the counter culture Jewess filth Gloria Steinem of "Ms Magazine". Whether she knows it or not she is part of the "Zionist/Jew Revolution" that brought about the French Monarchy and all the other Euro monarchies, Communism with all its vile attacks against the Christian and Islam religion, the sexual revolution and counter culture revolution in the West in the 1960 and 70s etc., It is very sad to see a Lebanese who was born into the great Lebanese Christian circle of intellegentsia speaking and writing the way Joumana does. Obviously there are backwards wings, schools of thoughts in Islam and Christianity but there are also very progressive ones too. Women's rights has a long way to go in Lebanon. There is no need for Joumana's cheap shock jew Jock approach to it. Joumana's writings have a lot of truths to them but the way she presents them is cheap and vulgar. She also leaves out a lot of the untold story. Say no to her importing of the Zionist Jew initiated "revoltions" that started in late 18th century France and Germany and spread like the greatest social, political and ethical moral disease to overtake the Western world. Lebanese Christians use to be the vehicle and conduit for the great things of the Western world. Now that the Western world has been debased on every level by the Zionist Jew Factory "Revolution" some Lebanese Christians like Joumana are serving as the conduit for this murk and vile mire. I know , I know she is not a Christian. But for the sake of discourse she is. Gone are the days of the great Lebanese Christian EDIFYING CLASSY Christians. Here are the days of the "oh so sexxxy , cool and glamorous" Hollywoodian zionist Lebanese Christian pseudo intellectuals like Joumana.

    December 20, 2012

  • sharbil

    Zionist. Yes. Freedom of speech is a zionist tool. What you wrote drips of pure intellectual brilliance and free thought. Keep up the good fight. (I bet you wished you were a crusader back in the day!)

    December 20, 2012

  • For those wanting to read a Catholic perspective on the Zionist-Jew "Revolutions" that has corrputed and corroded the once Christian West and is now moving on to the Moslem East read the book "Synagogue Rising" http://www.synagoguerising.com/ by a great Catholic historian. This rising Synagogue has brought revolution to finance, print, schools, governments and to Western society on every level. It is a wild destriuctive engine that is throwing the baby out with the bath water. Joumana probably has no idea of any of the details of this "Revolution".

    December 20, 2012

  • majd el Arabi

    Joumana, i agree with lots of your opinions even though i see you are an extremist on the other side, you showed little professionalism and objectivity when you attributed those websites Fatwas to Islam, i wonder if you can`t see that Islam has been hijacked by those mad sick Salafists you mentioned yourselves, and Islam has been hijacked also by Saudi Wahhabis and their silly backward religious / employees preachers around the world. You fell in the trap of making a general judgement based on practices or sayings of a small minor sick group of Muslims who have lot of money and media to spread such B S in the name of Islam. it`s obvious you are an extremist against religion, but please do not fall in the trap of judging a religion or making fun of it while you are relying on fatwas we the Muslim practitioners see as disgusting and backward and sickening, you cannot bash Islam that way and still claim you are objective, open, modern, scientific, and respectful.

    December 19, 2012

  • 1984

    Thank you so much for this article. You had me laughing several times in agreement and sometimes utter shock. love it love it love it! :)))))

    December 19, 2012

  • Moses

    I see the message you're trying to portray here but with all due respect, it gets a bit exaggerated at some point. While you have some religious leaders issuing "iftaa" that men can sleep with their women after death there are others - apparently a lot more eligible in iftaa - who strictly prohibit this. We need to respect religions and those leading them, be it the Christian or Muslim or any other. Generalizations here are completely unacceptable because they're harmful to religion. It's not right to assume that religions are being applied the way you've mentioned, because on first impression, I saw religion as the devil here. And that's definitely not true. For example, Islamic Law must have iftaa in every aspect of one's life ("Islam is a way of life") and that includes the mannerism of engaging in sexual behavior. I'll tell you, Prophet Muhammad was sent to protect the morals of mankind and again that involves morals in every aspect of of one's life. Please mention iftaa that is contrary to the heresies you've mentioned, just to refrain from painting an incorrect, negative picture of religion. Thanks...

    December 19, 2012

  • fadi c

    Joumana, the first time I read the article it left two impressions: absolute agreement with your rejection of religion's sick obsession with sex but mixed feelings about your harsh opinion about the macho culture and what seemed like a generalized attack on all men. You see, I'm a man, I like to see myself as liberal and open minded, and your article seemed to attack even me. I had to read the article a second time to see that you were careful not to generalize and that you rightfully criticised only the twisted, macho ones. I had to read it twice to understand that. Most people will not do that and will only leave with the impression that you believe that all men are pigs. I thought about telling you to tone down as there is no point in antagonizing allies. Then I thought: how often do I really think about the plight of women? Realy try to understand what all women have to go through in our sick societies. Now I appreciate your article more. It removed a veil. My head is not in the sand. We men, even the open minded kind, often dig our heads in the sand and only pay lip service to women rights. Your article forced me to question my lethargy.

    December 19, 2012

  • cristina

    Bell ' articolo, come cattolica e cristiana , questa verita' infastidisce ,ma al contempo mi fa montare di rabbia per tutte le donne sottomesse e che sono state sottomesse dagli uomini e dalle credenze religiose , imposte fin dall' infanzia .Donne soggiogate , umiliate , violentate e deturpate della loro normale natura femminile e della loro dignita' di persone . Ho letto il Suo libro : Ho ucciso Sharazade .Ne condivido i suoi pensieri e la sua rabbia , essendo figlia di cattolici e cresciuta dalle suore .Molte volte penso che se Dio , non avesse voluto che noi donne, non provassimo piacere , non avrebbe creato il nostro corpo cosi' bello e perfetto. Credo nell ' esistenza di un Dio , ma credo anche che le religioni siano state inventate dagli uomini ,per mantenere il popolo sotto dominio dei pochi ed offuscarne il pensiero razionale dell'umanita' intera . Purtroppo il cammino e' ancora lungo, per togliere questa cultura maschilista dalla mente degli uomini , ma l' importante e' parlarne .

    December 18, 2012

  • sharbil

    Amazing article. I am deducing that it is more than a mere coincidence that you decided to write this article on december 15th, exactly one year since Hitchens passed away. Again, amazing and daring job with this article.

    December 18, 2012

  • Free_Man

    bravo bravo bravo on this brave article. Religion is for airheads. Since the dawn of time, religion was invented for the rich and powerful to dominate the poor and simple people and also for men to keep their dominance over women. we will never advance as a people and culture as long as we have these so called religious heads dominate our lives, (...). we have in lebanon a mariage of interest between the politicians and religious mullahs and priests in collusion with the (...) lebanese media and journalists to keep this country backward.

    December 18, 2012

  • RBH

    The most interesting article I have ever read. Finally, a woman e-journalist decided to throw-out the ugly truth about our sexually-repressed socieities. It is time that we legalize civil marriages and make them as equal as religious marriages. Civil married couples shouldn't be having a problem with following this 'religious' rule or the other. Those who choose religious marriages, it should be their 'problematic' choice. Also, I believe women should be as open as men about their sexual fantasies and desires. By the way, I am a man, not a woman. I'm a village person from Lebanon and I hate the fact how everybody intervenes with everyone else's life. I also feel it's a Lebanese thing in general, and this is why I do not find myself comfortable around marrying a Lebanese woman as she won't be as 'open' as I wish to be. I have a thing for European women and I picture myself marrying one in the next couple of years. (...)

    December 18, 2012

  • Cristiane Melo

    This article is simply fantastic! It's exactly how I think. In Brasil it's not the same, of course, but at many Christians denominations it's like the same... everybody concerns about women virginity and nobody talks about men's. All they think about is sex... It's like:" you can not be alone with your boyfriend, because we never know... what do you mean with " we never know", it's like the teenagers are just waiting for an opportunity to have sex!! And it's not!! It's so disgusting....

    December 17, 2012

  • rtp

    I have to say, am really impressed with this article. Other than the thought provoking and very informative way you write. Attacking religion and priests was nice, actually not attacking but more like telling the truth. I always thought that all that tissue(virgin) thingy was a complete stupid thing. I didn't know 69 was not allowed hahah this is hilarious, why is that again? Giving and Taking pleasure is sinful , so makes sense! Kudos Joumana, am really impressed with your way of thinking, at last somebody in Lebanon uses that little thing they call brain!

    December 17, 2012

  • lomy

    Very naive journalism - please up your standards. There is more to this subject other than your crass condemnations. While society needs hard criticism - your naive attack does not serve constructive thought - only polarizes your opinion to the margins - very poor

    December 17, 2012

  • nowreader

    Excellent article! Hope this will enlighten many a reader

    December 17, 2012

  • Lama Riman

    what a great article! amazing!! and always u r one of the best writers that i have read for them, keep it up joumana :D Keep it up :D

    December 16, 2012

  • Veritas

    So we've decided to drift this far to the left? In her inner locutions to Father Gobbi, the Blessed Virgin Mary told him that the greatest evil in today's world is marxist atheism. It has resulted in a devastating coldness of heart and soul. I ask NOW editors to reconsider these attacks on our Lord in future

    December 16, 2012

  • RBH

    Marxist atheism came much later than the Bibel. Marxism is not evil, and atheism is not necessarily evil, but from a religiouis perspective it's a sin. The journalist is not necessarily an atheist, but she's pinpointing out issues that needed to be addressed as the whole sex topic is not handled quite cleverly by the religious institutions today.

    December 18, 2012

  • Fellowjournalist

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!!!!! Ps : An A.D.I.D.A.S fan I see. Love the reference.

    December 16, 2012

  • skhoury

    Ha ha ha hilarous!

    December 15, 2012

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Joumama, thank you for voicing our disgust with the religious establishment and their tiotal hijacking of our lives down to their littlest detail. As a Lebanese man, I applaud you for attacking these neanderthals. When will we have our revolution in Lebanon to rid ourselves of the 18 mini-theocracies and religious dictatorships that continue to suffocate us?

    December 15, 2012