Sexuality, Identity, and the Power of Language in the Arab World

Document Type


Presentation Date

Spring 2-13-2014

Conference Name

First Mondays Lecture Series

Conference Location

Fort Wayne, IN


This discussion explores the processes by which cultures define notions of femininity, masculinity, and homosexuality. Focusing on Lebanon as a case study for the Arab world, it investigates how these definitions have shifted through time with the changes in political and military power. For instance, the Lebanese penal code understands homosexuality as an “unnatural act;” in civil law, a Lebanese man could grant his non-Lebanese wife and citizenship, while a Lebanese woman is denied the right to naturalize her non-Lebanese husband or her children (from a non-Lebanese father). Such legal frames are rooted in interpretations of gender and gender roles. Based on a series of interviews with members of Lebanese grassroots movements advocating women’s and gay rights, this study questions such policies and investigates the social, cultural, and historic processes in the production and promotion of gender frames. It seeks to understand the relationship between political and religious institutions, and the enforcement of the social constructions of gender and gender roles.


gender studies, Arabic language, human rights, Islam and gender, women's rights


Gender and Sexuality | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

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