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Is There a Lesbian Identity in the Arab Culture?

Dr. Iman Al-Ghafari

Abstract


The subject of female homosexuality in the Arab intellectual tradition has always been one of absence or dismissal. This can be attributed to the fact that female sexuality is mostly seen as primarily heterosexual in a predominantly patriarchal culture. Consequently, erotic relations among women are devalued as a temporary substitute for the love of men, and are considered of no real threat to the dominant heterosexual system as long as they remain undercover, or in the closet. Because homoerotic desire “defies social norms, breaks patterns
and expectations for relationships” (Hart 69), homosexuality is a taboo subject that is rarely dealt with in Arabic literature. Hence, my main interest in this paper is to examine the grass roots of the lesbian identity in feminist discourse, and to relate the representations of lesbians in some interdisciplinary publications in lesbian studies to two recent Arabic novels: Misk Al-Ghazal (Women of Sand and Myrrh, 1986) by Hanan Al-Shaykh, and Ana, Hiya, Anti (I am You, 2000) by Elham Mansour.


Keywords


Lesbian identity; Arab world

References


Abelove, H., Barale, M. A., & Haplperin, M. D., (EdS.).(1993). The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. New York & London: Routledge.

Al-Shaykh, H. (1996). Misk Al-Ghazal. Beirut: Dar El-Adab. 2nd Edition.

Butler, J. (1990). Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. London: Routledge.

Doan, L. (1994). The Lesbian Postmodern. New York: Columbia University Press.

Haggerty, G. & Zimmerman, B., (EdS.).(1995).Professions of Desire. New York: The Modern Language Association of America.

Mansour, E. (2000). Ana, Hiya, Anti. Beirut, Lebanon: Riad El-Rayyes Books.

Mohin, L. (Ed.).(1996). An Intimacy of Equals: Lesbian Feminist Ethics. London: Onlywomen Press, Ltd. Radical Feminist Lesbian Publishers.

Irigaray, L. (1999). When Our Lips Speak Together. In J. Price, & M. Shildrick, (Eds), Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader. New York: Routledge.


Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.32380/alrj.v0i0.468

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ISSN: 0259-9953

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