Desiring Arabs

Front Cover
University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2008 - Social Science - 472 pages
2 Reviews
Sexual desire has long played a key role in Western judgments about the value of Arab civilization. In the past, Westerners viewed the Arab world as licentious, and Western intolerance of sex led them to brand Arabs as decadent; but as Western society became more sexually open, the supposedly prudish Arabs soon became viewed as backward. Rather than focusing exclusively on how these views developed in the West, in Desiring Arabs Joseph A. Massad reveals the history of how Arabs represented their own sexual desires. To this aim, he assembles a massive and diverse compendium of Arabic writing from the nineteenth century to the present in order to chart the changes in Arab sexual attitudes and their links to Arab notions of cultural heritage and civilization.
            A work of impressive scope and erudition, Massad’s chronicle of both the history and modern permutations of the debate over representations of sexual desires and practices in the Arab world is a crucial addition to our understanding of a frequently oversimplified and vilified culture.
  “A pioneering work on a very timely yet frustratingly neglected topic. . . . I know of no other study that can even begin to compare with the detail and scope of [this] work.”—Khaled El-Rouayheb, Middle East Report   “In Desiring Arabs, [Edward] Said’s disciple Joseph A. Massad corroborates his mentor’s thesis that orientalist writing was racist and dehumanizing. . . . [Massad] brilliantly goes on to trace the legacy of this racist, internalized, orientalist discourse up to the present.”—Financial Times

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The author has done well to boldly take on the western society on its misconstruction of human, especially male gender and sexuality, through the invalid concept of sexual orientation. However, no one can really understand the politics that goes behind all of this, nor the real issue here, unless one understands and acknowledges the issue of 'third gender,' that the western culture, religion and science has totally neglected.
The concept of 'homosexual' is nothing but a redefinition of themselves wrongly as 'men who like men' by western third genders. In fact, its the western third genders (who today are called the 'LGBT'), who have devised the concept of sexual orientation and 'heterosexuality' and imposed it upon the males with manhood.
Sexual orientation is an invalid concept. It is actually a misdefinition of 'Gender orientation.' Sexual identities are actually gender identities. 'Straight' actually refers to manly males, or males with manhood, who have been wrongly defined by the third genders who like men, as 'heterosexuals' because, sex with women have for long been the gender roles of men. And, 'gay' actually refers to the feminine males (third genders) who have been wrongly defined as 'homosexuals.'
This is why, all over the world where the concept of 'sexual orientation' is imposed -- whether in the west or the east, manly males (those with a stake in manhood) avoid so-called 'homosexuality' like plague, while the feminine males go ahead and celebrate their so-called 'homosexuality' which is actually their femininity disguised as sexuality.


1 Anxiety in Civilization
2 Remembrances of Desires Past
The Gay International and the Arab World
Taxonomies of Desires Present
5 Deviant Fictions
6 The Truth of Fictional Desires
Works Cited
Name Index
Subject Index

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 9 - Europe - were useful as places to send wayward sons, superfluous populations of delinquents, poor people, and other undesirables, so the Orient was a place where one could look for sexual experience unobtainable in Europe. Virtually no European writer who wrote on or traveled to the Orient in the period after...
Page 9 - Why the Orient seems still to suggest not only fecundity but sexual promise (and threat), untiring sensuality, unlimited desire, deep generative energies, is something on which one could speculate, (p.
Page 10 - Within the Sotadic Zone, the vice is popular and endemic, held at the worst to be a mere peccadillo...
Page 9 - We may as well recognize that for nineteenth-century Europe, with its increasing embourgeoisement, sex had been institutionalized to a very considerable degree. On the one hand, there was no such thing as 'free' sex, and on the other, sex in society entailed a web of legal, moral, even political and economic obligations of a detailed and certainly encumbering sort. Just as the various colonial possessions - quite apart from their economic benefit to metropolitan Europe - were useful as places to...
Page 434 - Keddie, An Islamic Response to Imperialism: Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jamal al-Din 'al-Afghani (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).

References to this book

About the author (2008)

Joseph A. Massad is associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He is the author of Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan and The Persistence of the Palestinian Question: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians.

Bibliographic information