In recent months, Instagram has become the social media network of choice for Arab and North African women seeking to raise awareness about issues of gender inequality in the region, with sexual violence against women being the most discussed topic. This gave rise to a plethora of conversations to educate our societies about consent and bodily autonomy as necessary precursors to the eradication of sexual violence and the objectification of women.
Somewhere along the line, this work led to the rise of sex positivity as an important stepping stone towards women’s liberation in the Middle East and North Africa. What few realize, however, is that Arab and North African women have worked tirelessly to destigmatize sex and their activism predates this current #MeToo resurgence in Egypt. These are but a few initiatives aimed at redefining the ways our societies perceive our bodies and sexuality.
The Sex Talk
One of the earliest online initiatives to call for a sexual revolution in the Arab and Muslim world, The Sex Talk is an Arabic language platform that approaches sex education and positivity with a focus on female pleasure and sexuality.
Launched over two years ago, the platform relies on relatable, accessible and at times playful language to package its messaging, which sets The Sex Talk apart from other online sex platforms.
Mauj is a platform created and maintained by Arab women in order to destigmatize female pleasure and sexuality in Middle Eastern and North African societies.
One of the platform’s most powerful tools is storytelling, which Mauj uses to share the experiences of Arab and North African women with damaging constructs about virtue, virginity and honor culture. The initiative also holds the distinction of having worked on developing the first vibrating sex toy to be designed by Arab women for Arab women.
Her digestible, illustrative and accessible content is behind the platform’s massive popularity, making Emam Egypt’s most talked about doula.
Love Matters Arabic
One of the oldest online sex education platforms in Egypt, Love Matters offers young men and women a complete guide to relationships, with a focus on issues of intimacy and sexuality.
The Arabic platform is an offshoot of the Love Matters Project, which was developed in the Netherlands in 2010 and later spread to other countries, which saw the initiative launch editions in Kenya, Uganda, China, Egypt, Mexico, Venezuela and India.
Launched in 2011, the Marsa Sexual Health Center is one of Lebanon’s pioneering civil society organization when it comes to raising awareness about sexual health and venereal diseases.
In addition to promoting a culture of tolerance, acceptance and sex positivity, Marsa also provides a number of sexual health services, which range from STD testing and treatment to psychological and dietetic counseling to people living with HIV.