Sexology: Is Egypt on the Verge of a Sexual Revolution?

Tuesday 4 April 201708:50 am
On November 21, the Facebook page Sexology celebrated its second birthday. For over two years, the page has sparked a verifiable revolution in open discussions about sex. Attracting followers from all over the world, it directed its posts at a curious audience using a straightforward, academic, yet accessible language, become a reliable reference for thousands of people in dire need of one. Sexology was launched as a collaboration between the Egyptian doctor Ahmed Mansour and researcher Mohamed El-Galaly, whose interests include psychology, philosophy, and the science of sex, alongside his law studies. The first seed for the page was a post by its founders, aiming to breach existing taboos and undermine the superstitions espoused by certain doctors on talk shows. Separately, they had a mission to confront the pseudo-scientific material that toed the line of tradition, at the expense of scientific accuracy. Mansour tells Raseef22 that doctors in Egypt operate in accordance with social norms, often providing distorted information about sex. He points to a famous doctor who regularly appears on television to warn people against masturbation, while sanctioning female genital mutilation (FGM). Another doctor he mentions speaks of homosexuality as a disease that requires treatment. Meanwhile, El-Galaly tells Raseef22 that he and Mansour decided to launch the Facebook page to provide informative, sex-positive content that offers the latest scientific information on sex, in efforts to combat some of the more regressive currents. Mansour noted that, in light of Sexology’s huge popularity and its articles underlining the harmful effects of FGM and the benefits of masturbation, the same popular television doctor had to revise her statements. "This is our greatest achievement," he stressed. "We upheld the scientific fact." [h2]An Audience in Hiding[/h2] Sexology is marked by a peculiar online following. Although 215,000 people follow its posts, just over 88,000 have liked the page to date, meaning that tens of thousands are following the articles in silence, for fear of leaving a digital footprint. Women are the most active users on the page, which the founders attribute to the fact that they are the most marginalized in society, and therefore the most welcoming of factual, evidence-based information. The second largest following is among young men, who are often struck by information that contradicts that which they have received from gossip or pornography. However, another sizable segment of their following is made up of their detractors—usually individuals with a religious background. This segment criticizes the content, accusing it of encouraging vice, despite the fact that each post is accompanied with medical and scientific references. Topics such as circumcision for both sexes, masturbation, homosexuality, anal sex, and the appropriate age for sexual activity were the most controversial. The topic of interfemoral (non-penetrative) sex also sparked rage on the Facebook page, given that it is a sexual practice with no discernible effects (such as hymen breakage). Sexology was subsequently reported dozens of times, causing it to lose its archive of posts. But the founder responded by launching a campaign to collect donations to set up a website. Mansour says that they were previously offered a large sum of money in exchange for deleting their content and no longer publishing new articles. Yet, Sexology continues to garner an extraordinary following all over the world. [h2]Winds of Change[/h2] Articles on non-traditional sexual techniques are often met with high interaction rates, as they expose thousands of people to new prospects they would likely have not come across. Mansour explains that penetration is a unilateral act that often does not take long. He notes that some men’s ignorance regarding different positions and foreplay techniques limits many couple’s entire sexual experience to a few short minutes. Some men then resort to using performance enhancers to last longer, which leads to numerous side effects, not least of which is erectile dysfunction, according to Mansour. El-Galaly moreover comments saying that the articles have provided partners with a golden opportunity to reignite their relationships. [h2]Sexology in a Sexually Distorted Society[/h2] The founders of Sexology refer to the challenges facing their project in a society where sex is viewed through a distorted lens. El-Galaly attributes this distortion to lack of communication between both genders, wherein they are segregated from a young age and raised to believe that a man and a woman alone in the same place must only be there for one purpose. He adds that the community also suffers from the primitive view of bed as an arena for battle, which eradicates any sense of openness and trust. "It is no longer a safe space for both partners to express their desires and needs," he explains. Mansour further notes that sexual relations in Egypt are problematic for various reasons. Married couples are exposed to immense social pressure, whereby sex becomes a function to produce offspring. Moreover, couples often become bored, as they know little about sex, which limits their intimacy into a repetitive cycle, with specific dates and rituals. Another issue is the failure to view sex an emotional exchange between partners. Instead, it is turned into a weapon that both parties use against the other. Marital rape is a weapon in the hands of men, while sexual blackmail is women's weapon. As for unmarried couples, El-Galaly says that while sexual harassment is rampant and largely accepted, society still cannot tolerate the idea of two consenting adults engaging in premarital sex. He points out that the obsession with preserving virginity is a major obstacle, along with the lack of appropriate conditions. [h2]Women in the Parallel Sexology Community[/h2] Sexology has created a parallel community in a secret group on Facebook that includes only trusted followers. Under the auspices of the group, open and mature conversation can unfold between men and women. It provides them with a platform to talk about sex explicitly. In this parallel community, women emerge as the main driving force. They are the most supportive of the group, and never refrain from expressing their opinions. They also share their stories and learn from others. El-Galaly says that the knowledge women have obtained from Sexology can shift the balance of society. "Knowledge is power," he stressed. "A woman who knows her body and has the confidence to ask her partner for what she wants will have no issue with confronting a man who seeks to harm her in her social or practical undertakings." [h2]Sexology and Homosexuality[/h2] Sexology also aims to remove the social stigma surrounding homosexuality in Egypt. El-Galaly says that in each community, approximately 10% of the population are homosexuals. Yet, he claims this rate balloons in segregated communities, where individuals simply seek what is available, noting that such behavior has also been observed among animals. Sexology also provides access to information on gender dysphoria, and provided followers with an opportunity to speak with a transgender woman, to discuss her experience and how she legally transitioned from male to female. Sexology has not simply sufficed with being a sex-positive platform for Egyptians; it also aspires to become a full-fledged establishment. The founders have partnered with an online psychological services organization that is recognized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Under this partnership, Sexology's followers can use a special code to get a 50% discount on psychological counseling. The partnership has given Sexology a new dimension, securing the recognition of prominent scientific organizations and media platforms.
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