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Friday, January 28, 2011

Hand and mouth games: A guide to Lebanese pre-marital sexuality

It is quite a widespread belief that the Lebanese are 'modern' when it comes to sexuality.
That, is a myth.
It is quite a widespread belief that the Lebanese are 'modern' when it comes to sexuality. That, is a myth.

While it could be common in some social circles to come across men and women who partake in casual flings, the vast majority of women have a (varyingly) more traditional approach to physical intimacy.

The sexual spectrum for women looks as follows:

- At one end of the spectrum you have the women who object to any physical intimacy before marriage, followed by a slightly toned down traditional mentality that might make room for the occasional kissing/caressing session, as long as nobody knows about it.

- The mirror opposite of the previous group is women who wouldn't object to flings and no-strings-attached relations.

- The last category, where the bulk of the female population falls, is women who, along with their partners, have perfected the art of foreplay. Intimate relations vary in degrees of commitment and nudity, with the common aspect of involving "hands and mouths".

This distribution of mentalities is part of a shift that is occurring in the Lebanese society: People are becoming increasingly liberated about sexuality, and the topic itself is becoming less of a taboo, even though pre-marital sex is still considered borderline illegal at the official level.

That right there, is cause for worry, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking about.
I never thought I would actually say this, but here's why I think people should be having less sex in Lebanon:

When I went to Beirut for the Christmas I was feeling a bit under the weather, and so the doctor asked for some blood tests. For the hassle I was going to go through, I thought I might as well add the regular STD tests to the list. When I went to the lab, which by the way happens to be one of the labs that draws the largest amount of business in the country, the nurse looked at me funny when I handed her my list of tests, and she automatically guessed I was living abroad.
Why ?

It turns out STD tests are not a common occurrence, and are usually only prescribed to people who have been abroad and taken part in "hek hek" (english: so-so) relations. Lebanese men apparently are too macho to think they should get tested.

I'm not sure what she meant by her "hek hek" comment, but I was glad to see a nurse displaying such a high understanding of sexual education and health. If our medical professionals are that irresponsible about their patients' sexual health, imagine exactly what it is you could be sleeping with on your next fling, no matter how attractive he/she is.

Now let me try to sum this up nicely: I'm all for pre-marital sex. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, for either sex. On the other hand, the shift in mentality in the Lebanese society is premature, as it doesn't seem to be accompanied by the proper awareness and education it takes to maintain our sexual health. How many schools teach sexual education? How many teenagers get a proper introduction to contraception options and most importantly, how many are educated about STDs and the importance of protection? Looking back at my own education and the education of some of my younger friends, I would guess not many.

You might have done your homework and taken your precautions, but do you know if your partner has as well? Be safe, and when in doubt, it never hurts to stick to "Hand and Mouth games".

PS: I recently read this guest post on 'This Is Beirut' and decided to publish this article sooner than I had planned, as a rebuttal of sorts to his argument.

Now tell me, do you think you've been given the proper sexual education ? How important do you think it is ?


January 28, 2011 at 11:42 AM Anonymous

STD's are important only if you plan on living past 35. Since the "Lebanese" have a tendency to live for the moment and not plan ahead. We have become so sexually frustrated that we jump at any opportunity to spank the monkey, ignoring all risks, and holding on to the bravado of "Trust Me". I do not think even with a progressive liberal sex teachings in school, will it change the perspective of testing. Aids testing, is almost for free everywhere, and knowing the Lebanese, I would have thought everyone would get tested, "Free Vinegar is better than Honey". Oh well, live and learn.

So the other day I go to do an STD test, and the nurse looks at me and asks me did you eat today?
I look into her eyes smiling and reply honestly, its 2 in the afternoon of course I ate.
She looks at me smiling that "oh that's too bad" smile and replies: we cannot do your test, come back tomorrow.
*Drum Roll*

Ok to get things ending, because this sounds more like a rant than a comment. The solution is clear. Get married and THEN spread the STD's. It does say in sickness and in health. so fits the contract perfectly.

Who reads this blog

January 28, 2011 at 12:19 PM @dashkoun

i like the article

and it is true that in Lebanon we don't have a Proper sexual education

but each man in Lebanon has the fear of getting babies without getting married either for the fact that they r not married yet, or for the fact that they cant afford taking a baby at the moment.
so we c that Lebanese men go into protecting themselves and their partners without their knowledge :P.

they only do this to be on the safe side "babies safe side" not "STD safe side"

in arabic we say "kel el droub betwasel 3al ta7oun" (eng: all road lead to the destination we need)

so if in the process of saving themselves from a bay they r saving themselves from getting STD y not :P

but in all cases we need a proper sexual education in Lebanon /.....

January 28, 2011 at 12:56 PM Fadi

@dashkoun "baby precautions" and sexual protection are two different things. Some people's idea of "protection" in Lebanon is actually anal sex. Sure the risk of pregnancy is reduced considerably, but STDs don't particularly care which hole you're aiming for.

I also thought I should point out (based on the experience of one of my readers) that 'morning after pills' don't seem to be available as they should be. That somewhat clashes with the "baby precaution" argument. It's as if the unavailability of proper education or contraceptive measures is used as an incentive to keep people from engaging in sexual intercourse. So much for public health..

January 28, 2011 at 1:33 PM Al Jareedah

The "Do it, but don't talk about it" mentality will keep us behind on every level. Sexual education is one. A crucial one.

January 28, 2011 at 1:43 PM ritakml

Up close & personal!

I would say that the let aside the poor sexual education we get in schools, parents tend to avoid the subject with the girls and some dads find 5 minutes to have a "Man to Man" conversation with their sons.

We still have a long way to go. Of course it is better to be safe than sorry. We preach something and we do the opposite.

Many still have a very sexist opnion when it comes to sex. Too bad!

January 28, 2011 at 2:52 PM Gass

It’s a ridiculously hypocrite society, and wayyy stupid.
Sex here is ‘blackmail’ to trick you into a relationship. When it’s time to bed, the girl uncovers her immature sexual behaviour. Either too horny to be true or stupidly acting to avoid you judging her.Who needs a dummy in his bed! Not me! What happened to love making? It’s an expression of your inner self, an expression of your mind.
But let’s face it, woman all over the world have inhibitions for sexual acts, and this has to do with pre-sexual revolution conditions – patriarchal societies- and catholic education.
In Lebanon this inhibition in multiplied by 100. Add to it the systematic hypocrisy of the Lebanese themselves – wannabes – and spice it up with wide spread religious believes – 50 % of woman in this country are veiled right, or happens to belong to a serious religious group such as Marcharbel and Mar chi ..-
Yes , we wannabes, like we have always been .

January 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM Sareen

"it never hurts to stick to "Hand and Mouth games"" Sorry Fadi, I love the article but I don't agree with this sentence. People should also know that "Hand and Mouth" games can also lead to people catching STDs. I hope people realize this (I'm sure you do too, but just forgot to mention it).

January 28, 2011 at 3:32 PM Fadi

Thanks for pointing that out, it's a very good point, and I'm sorry I forgot to mention it.
Intercourse is not the only way to contract STDs, all the more reason I think sex ed and an honest discourse about sexuality is essential in preserving our health.

January 28, 2011 at 4:41 PM GASS

In the bedroomTalking to sexologist Dr. Sandrine Atallah

February 1, 2011 at 10:06 PM Danielle

Fadi, did you eve read this post I wrote a few months ago about the lack of sexual education in Lebanon? If you didn't, please do: And keep in mind that the post on my blog was written by a guest..not by me. :D

February 1, 2011 at 11:01 PM Fadi

Dani! I must have missed that one.. it happens, not very often, but still.. Thanks for pointing it out though, it's a very nice read. Cheers !

PS: I know you didn't write the sexual interpolation article, that's why I said "guest post".

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