Is There a Lesbian Identity in the Arab Culture?


Lesbian identity
Arab world

How to Cite

Al-Ghafari, D. I. (1). Is There a Lesbian Identity in the Arab Culture?. Al-Raida Journal, 86-90.


The subject of female homosexuality in the Arab intellectual tradition has always been one of absence or dismissal. This can be attributed to the fact that female sexuality is mostly seen as primarily heterosexual in a predominantly patriarchal culture. Consequently, erotic relations among women are devalued as a temporary substitute for the love of men, and are considered of no real threat to the dominant heterosexual system as long as they remain undercover, or in the closet. Because homoerotic desire “defies social norms, breaks patterns
and expectations for relationships” (Hart 69), homosexuality is a taboo subject that is rarely dealt with in Arabic literature. Hence, my main interest in this paper is to examine the grass roots of the lesbian identity in feminist discourse, and to relate the representations of lesbians in some interdisciplinary publications in lesbian studies to two recent Arabic novels: Misk Al-Ghazal (Women of Sand and Myrrh, 1986) by Hanan Al-Shaykh, and Ana, Hiya, Anti (I am You, 2000) by Elham Mansour.


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