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26 October 2006

Public Masturbation in a Hybrid Society

I don't know if you've read the article published in Malek's blog lately about sexual harassment. It's in brief about what he saw in Cairo down town a couple of days ago, where dozens of men in the streets were chasing any female in the street, trying to touch an inch or two of her body.

As, you know, in the holy month of Ramadan, people are devoted to God/Allah, they try to pray more and prevent themselves from doing anything wrong during it. So, it became very common here to see people trying to be as good as they can till the month ends, then then as soon as the final day of it ends, they start to do all kinds of bad stuff, such as taking drugs, drinking, watching pornographic materials, and lately sexual harassment. However, from what I read in female owned blogs, it seems that harassment is becoming more common here everyday and everywhere. It's seen in public transportation, streets, schools, and even mosques

But, let me ask, why such thing was not common here twenty years ago. I think one of the main reasons for this is the Hybrid society we live in now. I am going to explain the meaning of hybrid society later on, but let me now do a quick comparison between the western society and the middle-eastern one.

In the western society, people can have girlfriends/boyfriends, they can have sex before marriage, pornographic materials such as magazines and videos are available, people have their independent life and most of them live away from their parents when they get older, and finally, there are laws against sexual harassment.

In a typical middle-eastern society, may be twenty years ago. By the way, I prefer to call it middle-eastern society instead of an Islamic one as these characteristics were common here in our society for Muslims, as well as non-Muslims. So, in the middle-eastern society the term of a girlfriend where not even defined, sex is not allowed before marriage, porn was really hard to get (remember, there was no internet then), people live with their parents till they get married, and so there was no need for anti harassment laws.

Now, with the presence of the advanced communication methods, such as satellite channels, and the internet, the middle eastern society is changing into a hybrid society, with a mix and match characteristics of each of the two models mentioned earlier. the idea of having a girlfriend is becoming more common here, however having sex before marriage is not allowed. So you can have a girlfriend, but you cannot kiss her. Porn is available, from the internet, and even video clips are more into semi-nude models, and on the other hand the western any-harassment laws are not available.

One more thing to take into consideration is that although sex is not allowed before marriage as I said earlier, marriage is not simple. When someone proposes to a girl he has to pay her Mahr - about L.E.20,000 to L.E.50,000 - and bring her Shabka - A diamond ring that costs much too. Some parents put extra financial, sectarian, and many other obstacles.

Sure there are many other reasons for such issue, such as the bad education system we have here, where students don't go to school, and as you know one of the main tasks of a school beside education, is discipline. People don't trust the religious system here - such as Al Azhar - any more, and they now get their religious knowledge from uneducated and untrusted sources. And what I mean by uneducated sources are those underground Sheiks who suffer from financial and may be sexual frustration, and they keep on talking about women as the main source of evil, and focus more on them as an object of amusement instead of a human being. Drugs and alcohol are becoming more common as well. Even the media here, including movies and music, which are supposed to build people's taste and mind are degrading.

Finally, I tried to put here what can be the reason for such shameful acts according to my point of view, however I think bloggeresses comments can help in building a more complete image here.

Update 3:20 AM:
It came out that Zeinobia wrote a great article about the same issue, you'd better read it too.
Egyptian chronicles, Searching for reason
You may also see Mechanical Crowds' "When The Crowds Are Gone".

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