Growing Up Sexually


PALESTINIANS (Palestina, Jordan, Gaza strip)


IndexMiddle East Palestinians


Kanaaneh (2002:p192-5, 196-7)[1] in Israel:


"Buthaina believed that many girls knew about sex (and were too eager for it) but she also said there were still some girls who are "embarrassingly ignorant" in matters of sex [...] Sex education is increasingly considered a modern essential, but many people still see society in general as far from that goal. Although many more girls receive sex education today, almost everyone has stories like Buthaina's about girls "tragically" left in the sexual dark. The few trained sex educators see themselves as pioneers and innovators. The push for sex education is relatively recent; the educational process is considered to be at the starting point. [...] Many mothers said they were particularly afraid that if they told their young children about sex, the children might repeat what they were told in front of other people in an inappropriate context and embarrass their parents. [...] One of the big hurdles in sex education is the "prick" that /Abla Jabaly admits to; in a society that is just beginning the process of sex education, such talk is still embarrassing.[...] This prick of shame especially haunts parents when they try to instruct children of the opposite gender. [...] While many parents feared their sex-educated children might blurt things out at inappropriate moments, many others feared being embarrassed by their children's lack of sex education; that, too, reflected negatively on them. Sexually ignorant children reflected the sexual ignorance of their parents. [...] fear that sex-educated children will blurt out "shameful" things is balanced by fear that children without sex education will demonstrate the "ignorance" and "neglect" of their parents. Most Palestinian parents thus engaged in some form of sex education for their children or counted on others to do so. It was widely considered a modern necessity, essential for producing proper, safe heterosexuality in a potentially treacherous new era. This is clearly not to say that forms of sex education and regulation did not exist in the Galilee before the embrace of modernization, but rather to elucidate the particular forms and contours of these contemporary discourses and practices. Certainly there are parents who do not believe in sex education. [...] What is evident in this emphasis on sex education and domestication is the positioning of Science, with a capital S, as the solution to society's problems, especially its new perversions. Science is seen as an essential ingredient in society's adjustment to modernity and change. As Nuhad told me, "There's a lot of sex education these days because a lot of rapes are committed. It's better for children to know everything in the realm of science."



Abdulla (1966:p160-1)[2] in Jordan:


"Children, male and female, receive no sex education at home. They acquire such knowledge from their playmates, from older children, and by direct experience. Boys learn to masturbate in groups, but in seclusion from other people. Although the mores of this culture call for chastity, such group practices often lead some young men to practice homosexuality in early life. Such behavior is normally abandoned after marriage. Any male who plays the role of a female in such a relationship is usually ostracized, and he and his relatives are put to shame. Such an individual receives no sympathy, and often is mistreated by his own kin. Adolescent boys are frequently tempted to have sex relations with female animals-expecially female donkeys and horses."





Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: May 2005





[1] Kanaaneh, Rh. A. (2002) Birthing the nation: strategies of Palestinian women in Israel.Berkeley: University of California Press [eHRAF 2005]

[2] Lutfiyya, Abdulla, M. (1966) Baytīin a Jordanian village: a study of social institutions and social change in a folk community. The Hague: Mouton [eHRAF 2005]