Saudi Arabia: Perceptions & Sexual Repression



The Kingdom is a sexually repressed nation.  Yes; I realize that is a strong statement and does not apply to each and every citizen but I do believe it applies to a majority.  There are many instances of men and women who simply do not know how to have an intimate physical relationship.  There is little talking and sharing of feelings and emotions.  That is uncomfortable and awkward in many cases for a Saudi man and woman.  They have become accustomed to growing up in a segregated society where men and women do not mix.  What happens then?  The women become very close, at ease and most comfortable with other women and the same also applies to the men.  As a result, it is not unusual to hear of such closeness transcending into romantic feelings and encounters with those of the same sex.



These individuals are not what one would call ‘gay’ or homosexual but have these encounters and relationships due to the confines of the society and culture.  In some cases they will marry (by an arranged marriage) as that is expected and the right thing to do.  They will go through the motions of performing wifely and husbandly duties but at the same time, miss the emotional intimacy they experience with that close friend of the same sex.  In a lot of cases a married woman or married man will continue that relationship even after marriage.  After all the continued segregation makes it easy for them to continue on with such a relationship.



In this regard, men and women have to be careful of the image they present.  For example, I have one Saudi female friend who happens to have very short hair.  She told me she prefers to keep her hair cut short because if it grows out longer it becomes too curly and unmanageable.  However because she has short hair, she has often been approached by other Saudi women who believe she is gay.  My friend has been in shopping malls and has had Saudi women pass her a slip of paper with their phone number.  (and we all thought Saudi men could be aggressive!)


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