Sex is natural. We wouldn’t be here were it not for the ability to procreate, and for most people in the world, physical intimacy and pleasure are desired bedfellows, ideally going hand in hand, consensually so. Unfortunately, healthy sexuality is often a difficult topic to approach in the middle east, a region conservative about such matters.
Social morays and religious laws commandeer the tenor of the discussions if not the actual acts. Which is probably why the announcement of an adult store in a residential neighborhood in Morocco turned out to be more hype than hope.
Our sleuthing (aka internet research) found much ado about nothing (though admittedly we didn’t actually ring the door bell), which suggests that the story was less about intimacy and more about a statement about society and politics. The news caused some controversy, with several bloggers sharing their opinions about the intention of the announcement.
“It turns out that when people went to see this sex shop- for normal reasons, of course- they couldn’t find it…And now questions are being asked; suspicions are that it may be part of a plot by left-leaning activists, namely the February 20 Movement, spawned last year as part of the Arab Spring, to embarrass the new Prime Minister,” wrote one identified as ‘less stupid.’
We took this as an opportunity to revisit our story on Halel intimacy aids. Consumers in Israel have many options, from Thinking of You.com, a company that makes environmentally friendly Amazonian vibrators to Sisters, part of a “chain of women-friendly sex shops developed based on the belief that sexual enjoyment is a basic right of every woman.”
In addition to promoting green products, they include as goals the desire to “improve access to sex toys, conduct open dialogs and receive true and reliable information about sexual issues, with the goal of promoting enjoyment, health and happiness.”
Marc Dibeh, a designer in Lebanon has created a hidden gem called Love the Bird to avoid censorship, and the online store El Asira serves Muslim sensibilities. Finally, the Bahrain store, Dar Khadija, the first of its kind in the Gulf, has been catering since at least 2010 to married couples seeking appropriate intimacy enhancement products.
Combine these openings with the organization of Israel’s first ‘SlutWalk‘ and efforts to expand human and reproductive rights, and we can’t help but wonder if the tides are turning towards greater sexual empowerment in the Middle East.
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