Thoughts from a French Muslim Sexologist

Thoughts from a French Muslim Sexologist June 18, 2016

I’ve never met a Muslim sex educator before – but I hope that changes, because Nadia El Bouga sounds really cool!

In my post on sex positivity outside the West, I asked:

What does sex positivity look like in other situations? How can we take the basic tenets of sex positivity and make sure they translate successfully into other cultures… and is that even a job for “us” (e.g. Western feminists) or is that too much of a colonizing move? Maybe the better question is, how can we support activists in other settings as they develop and explore their own culturally-contextualized versions of sex positivity?

A friend sent me a link to a news piece on this French sexologist, who’s also a Muslim woman, and it begins to answer some of my questions.

Originally a midwife, Nadia El Bouga sought sexological training once it became clear that she needed more information to help her patients (now including men as well as women, and people with families as well as those without). She nows runs a private practice and a radio show with an international audience, and is unafraid to tackle controversial topics.

She’s spoken out against female genital cutting, for instance, stating:

It’s a mutilation that’s not at all in the religious texts, the Muslim texts…It’s a way for men to control female sexuality.

For an insider to make that claim, I think, is an important cultural moment. Sex-positive Westerners can swoop in to try to “save” people all they want, but it’s still an expression of colonialism. Hopefully, armed with knowledge that’s both factually accurate and culturally savvy, people of all religions and nations can join the discussion about sex education, healthy sexuality, and more.

The article on El Bouga concluded by noting some of the negative reactions she’s faced, from fellow Muslims who think she’s too frank with her talk on sexuality. As long as we live in sex-negative cultures, someone will be offended by factual discussions of sexuality, as though the mere topic raises immoral specters. Talking about sex is not the same as engaging in it, and people need access to high-quality information so they can make informed choices before engaging in sex (if they choose to). Challenging religious and cultural norms about sex is tough work, and I wish El Bouga the best in her career.

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