Abou-Rizk, Zeina, and Rail Geneviève. “‘Judging a Body by Its Cover’: Young Lebanese-Canadian Women’s Discursive Constructions of the ‘Healthy’ Body and ‘Health’ Practices.” Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, vol. 16, no. 1, 2014, pp. 150–164.
This article from the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, deals with health, weight, and beauty ideals in the eyes of Arabic women. It is important to note that this is not about Muslim women, though it does include some specific mentions of Arabic-Muslim cultures. I feel this will lend a modern perspective about bodily ideals that spans across the world, and will compare and contrast perspectives of Muslim women with non-Muslim women, which is an important distinction, as my discussion is about body and sexuality in Islam specifically.
Bullock, Katherine. Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil : Challenging Historical & Modern Stereotypes. International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2010.
This book is a “contextual approach” to veiling in Islam – the author looks at the concept of veiling in a non-western context. The thesis is that veiling is not inherently oppressive to women, and the author combines sources from the mainstream, the scholarly, and the doctrinal to ultimately delegitimize western feminist arguments that equate veiling with oppression. The article addresses veiling as it relates to religion, history, tradition, social ideals and situations, sexuality, modesty, and the body itself, and it also addresses the social effects of veiling. These are all relevant to my discussion, as they correlate with many of my questions regarding human sexuality, and and modesty.
Eltahawy, Mona. “Sex Talk for Muslim Women.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 May 2016.
This op-ed from the New York Times discusses the importance of normalizing discussions about sex among Muslim women. Eltahawy speaks of the detrimental effects of silencing and societally repressing the inherent sexuality of women; she pushes for a world and media in which women of religions that do not condone premarital sex can be free in their sexuality without fear of hatred from God, fulfill their sexual desires and needs, and ultimately have agency in how they deal with their own bodies. She does not claim to be a religious expert or member of the “clergy,” but simply advocates for women to gain comfort within their right to choose what to do with their bodies, including having sex. This will be helpful to my discussion, as it is quite a liberal opinion – it can even be grouped among views held by western feminists – but it comes from a Muslim woman; it is an alternative view about sex liberation coming from the firsthand experience of a woman who remained a virgin until she was 29 years old, realized she would not likely be finding a spouse in the near future, and decided to have sex.
Gressgård Randi. “The Veiled Muslim, the Anorexic and the Transsexual.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, vol. 13, no. 4, 2006, pp. 325–341.
This article deals with gender, womanhood, and the gender hierarchy, using the examples of a “veiled Muslim,” an anorexic woman, and a transsexual woman. These three archetypes almost inherently have to do with the concept of body, so the argument of the article can lend to my discussion of body and womanhood. In addition, through its focus on veiling and the archetype of the veiled Muslim, it can also perhaps lend to my discussions of modesty and religion in relation to gender and body.
Li, Cha, et al. “Motives for Exercise in Undergraduate Muslim Women and Men in Oman and Pakistan Compared to the United States.” Sex Roles : A Journal of Research, vol. 72, no. 1-2, 2015, pp. 68–84., doi:10.1007/s11199-014-0435-z.
Similar to the article from the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, this article deals with modern health, weight, and beauty ideals. In this case, however, it focuses on Muslim men and women, and specifically on motives for exercise, which have to do with the complicated notion of “body.” Additionally, it compares young Muslims in the U.S. to those in Pakistan and Oman, an Arab land. This will provide comparative modern perspectives about bodily ideals between women and men, as well as between different cultures Muslim people are a part of, which can lend to a more all-encompassing discussion of body and sexuality in Islam.
Malti-Douglas, Fedwa, editor. Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender. Macmillan Reference USA, 4 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.
The Encyclopedia of Sex and Gender is, as its title suggests, an extensive collection of definitions and comprehensive explanations of terms, historical people and things, and concepts or constructs that influence, define, or have anything to do with sex and gender. It provides multiple perspectives of any number of things relevant to women, sexuality and body in Islam, which could help me to understand, define, and successfully explain certain things that may come up in my discussion. Some entries that could possibly help me are “Islam,” “Clothing,” “Abstinence,” “Baha’i Faith,” “Body, Depictions and Metaphors,” “Body Image,” “Theories of Body,” “Creation Stories,” “Demography,” “Fashion System,” “Folklore,” “Fundamentalism,” “Female Genitals,” “Hair,” “Honor and Shame,” “Libido,” “Masturbation,” “Patriarchy,” “Pleasure,” “Prayer,” “Privacy,” “Sex Manuals, Islam,” “Sex Roles,” “Sexuality,” “Public and Private Space,” “Symbolism,” and “Veiling.”
Medina, Jameelah. “Body Politicking and the Phenomenon of `Passing’.” Feminism & Psychology, vol. 21, no. 1, 2011, pp. 138–143.
This article from the journal Feminism and Psychology approaches body politics and the concept of perceived “otherness” through lenses such as feminism and religion. It’s discussion of the body includes notions of gender in relation to the body, and the author deals with Christianity and Islam in relation to one another in this approach, which perhaps will help to make more distinct the Islamic experience in terms of body politics – though it must be noted it deals with a single Muslim woman as an example. I think the combined focus on body, gender, and religion, will be useful to my discussion, as it shows how bodily expression of religion and gender impacts public perceptions of individuals, and this could perhaps lead to a conclusion one way or another on the potential psychological, individual, or societal effects of this kind of expression.
Opayemi, R. “Gender, Self Esteem, Religiosity and Premarital Sex among Young Adults.” Gender and Behaviour, vol. 9, no. 1, 2011, doi:10.4314/gab.v9i1.67454.
This article is based on a survey study of Nigerian university students, and discusses the interconnectedness of the issues of premarital sex, religiosity, gender, and self-esteem. I am primarily interested in the findings that have to do with the impact of religiosity on premarital sex, though it is crucial to note that it does not have to do specifically with Islam as a religion. It could still be useful as an example of the relationship religion and sex have in general, as these kinds of examples can potentially be used comparatively in the context of my discussion.
Smith, B. J. and Woodward, M. (2016), Magico‐spiritual power, female sexuality and ritual sex in Muslim Java: Unveiling the kesekten of magical women. Aust J Anthropol, 27: 317-332.
In this article from The Australian Journal of Anthropology, Central and East Javanese Muslim societies are the grounds for the analysis of spiritual “magic” in Islam and the ritual practices that follow it, in the context of – specifically female – sexuality. The article, which focuses on sexual norms not based in Sharia, shows how women, female spiritual figures, and sexuality can represent and embody “magical power” in Islam. I expect this analysis will cover the nature and role of the bodies of women in the core of Islam, and the integral nature of sexuality in Islam itself, which is what I am primarily interested in discussing. The fact that it focuses on a very specific group of people, and especially that this group of people deviates from norms of Sharia, is important to my discussion as well – it shows that not all Muslim societies are the same in their understandings and implementations of Islam, and provides an alternative perspective and understanding.
Zakaria, Rafia. “Sex and the Muslim Feminist.” The New Republic, The New Republic, 13 Nov. 2015.
In this op-ed from an online magazine, Rafia Zakaria expresses her disappointment in how sex-positive feminism has taken shape. She notes the works of several historical feminists, such as Kate Millet, arguing that sex is historically and currently too ingrained in the patriarchy for the complete sexual liberation of women – that women embracing certain “risqué” sexual acts and presentations are simply propagating the work of the patriarchy and capitalism, and that these acts or presentations simply further normalize the degradation of women. She argues that the western focus on sexual liberation has detrimental results for some women, and that equality and intersectionality must be addressed first – that freedom does not only imply some twisted view of sexual freedom. This is the opinion of a Muslim feminist who perhaps supports sexual liberation, but is sure to first examine the meanings and implications of sexual liberation for women everywhere, as well as the context in which the “liberation” is taking place. She focuses mainly on sex, and not so much on modesty or veiling, which is helpful – though it may be lacking a “layer” of understanding Muslim feminism, it provides an alternative viewpoint about sexual practice itself.