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The Middle East has long been something of a mystery to Westerners, and in particular, the sexual mores of the region continue to fascinate. Arabs are often described as being in a state of Islam-induced sexual anxiety and young Muslims' frustrations are said to be exacerbated by increasing exposure to the licentiousness of the West. Here, Middle East expert John R. Bradley sets out to uncover the truth about sex in countries like Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Yemen. Among many startling revelations, Bradley reports on how "temporary" Islamic marriages allow for illicit sex in the theocracies of Iran and Saudi Arabia; "child brides" that are sold off to older Arab men according to ancient tribal traditions; the hypocrisy that undermines publicized crackdowns on the thriving sex industry in the Persian Gulf; and how, despite widespread denial, homosexuality is still deeply ingrained in the region's social fabric. Richly detailed and nuanced, Behind the Veil of Vice sheds light on a taboo subject and unravels widely held myths about the region. In the process, Bradley also delivers an important message about our own society's contradictions.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: Preaching to the Perverted Dissent in Damascus Islamic Feminism Temporary Marriages Child Brides Pleasure Island Moral Panic Veils and Vices Conclusion

About the Author

JOHN R. BRADLEY was born in England in 1970. He was educated at University College London, Dartmouth College, and Exeter College, Oxford, UK. He has written for the Washington Quarterly, the New Republic, the Economist, Newsweek, Prospect, the London Telegraph, Salon, and the London Sunday Times. Fluent in Egyptian Arabic, he is the author of Saudi Arabia Exposed: Inside a Kingdom in Crisis, a Foreign Affairs bestseller, and the critically acclaimed Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution.

Reviews

'Emphasizing the profound differences between - and within - various Muslim and Arab communities, [Bradley] definitively dispels the notion of any single dominant Muslim sexuality or moral norm. Instead, Bradley argues, the prurient concerns of the West are mostly distractions from real social, political, and economic problems faced in the Middle East - many of which the West plays a major role in perpetuating... Drawing on extensive research as well as the author's own substantial firsthand knowledge of the region, the book offers an essential corrective to the fantasies and misinformation about Middle Eastern cultures.'- Publishers Weekly 'Recommend... for its accessibility, wealth of detailed content, and its potential appeal for scholars working in the fields of sex work and Middle East studies... Bradley succeeds in his aim to effectively uncover the mysteries surrounding the business and culture of sex in the Middle East. He presents a very nuanced account of the realities of prostitution in various Middle Eastern countries, supplemented statistically and anecdotally. Bradley identifies a range of existent liberal cultural identities and attitudes towards sex in the countries he has visited, accompanied by an underground culture of sex that is often not as shrouded in mystery as western media so commonly depicts.' - LSE Review of Books 'Bradley finds East and West united in adherence to an ecumenical creed of "Do as I say, not as I do". Not that there aren't differences in the lies we tell ourselves: hence the institution of misyar - temporary marriages, which enable a society like Iran to work around its own self-denying strictures; or the freedom of relations between men and adolescent boys in Morocco (as long as no one comes out or calls it gay). Bradley finds both sleazy secrets and what he... calls higher hypocrisies in this revelatory and thought-provoking book.'-The Scotsman 'Bradley crushes the popular perception of the Middle East as erotically stifled, and the West as the land of sexual expression and freedom. The more nuanced truth, he says, is that these seemingly oppositional cultures have far more in common than we often admit: Both "live under rulers who, under different pretexts and with varying degrees of severity, seek to curb the unruly sex urge as a way of maintaining social control." This fascinating and comprehensive book guides readers through the seedy underbelly of the Middle East.'-Salon 'Bradley's book seeks to avoid the usual cultural myopia and self-righteousness. He travels to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Morocco and Yemen, to examine the sex-trade in urban centers, from the Shia practice of temporary marriages in Iran, to child brides and casual (though covert) homosexuality across the region.'-The Independent 'Bradley offers a good understanding of what most of us already know: that the Arab world and Islamic world have their vices and people are willing to live with them rather than expose them and themselves as hypocrites on the subject. But [Behind the Veil of Vice] also gives a historical context that challenges the popular myths that women are free anywhere in this world, be it in the confines of the West or Islam. It is an easy read. And you just might learn something about a topic that is too often thrown around in debates with little knowledge and too much stereotyping and political biases, as well as racial and religious prejudices.'-ibookreviews.com 'After ten years writing and traveling through the Middle East, Bradley decided to tackle the subject that everyone talks about without saying much: sex. He reveals the many different ways countries across the region talk about and regulate sex, covering legal prostitution in Tunisia, hour-long marriages in Saudi Arabia, and what West and East have in common when it comes to sex.'-Zocalo Public Square

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