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Power and Sexuality in the Middle East
By Bruce Dunne
Middle East Report, No. 206, Power and Sexuality in the Middle East (1998)
Introduction: Sexual relations in Middle Eastern societies have historically articulated social hierarchies, that is, dominant and subordinate social positions: adult men on top; women, boys and slaves below. The distinction made by modern Western “sexuality” between sexual and gender identity, that is, between kinds of sexual predilections [and] degrees of masculinity and femininity, has, until recently, had little resonance in the Middle East. Both dominant/subordinate and heterosexual/homosexual categorizations are structures of power. They position social actors as powerful or powerless, “normal” or “deviant.” The contemporary concept of “queerness” resists all such categorizing in favor of recognizing more complex realities of multiple and shifting positions of sexuality, identity and power.