He he he…F-pshhht.

This post is rated PG-15  (Zehra, that means YOU). Please forgive me you guys, but I can’t not write about this.

I miss the F-word.

I’ve been cutting down, trying to find alternatives like fudge, n frig, n f-psssht (the noise I make when I start saying it and remember I shouldn’t) but they don’t give the same sense of release as good ol F-psssht {ha! nearly got me there} does.

What’s in a word? How will my saying Fudge instead of F-pshhht make it any different? It’ll just give god ol fudge the same connotations.

Now me, I’ve always had this issue with taboos. I never understood why in heaven’s name they should be taboos. Sex for example, is a biological necessity. The existence of humanity depends on it; so why is talking about it so frowned upon? Why in particular is it such an offensive subjects for Muslims? We have the fastest growing population, don’t we? How’d that happen?

Now basically, I don’t tend to go into this zone on my blog. I prefer neat, clean, non-offensive stuff that my kid-sister’s friends can read without having to force their mum’s to have that conversation, but THIS I have to share.  How’d I find it? Well, I was researching on Syrian fashion industry. Turns out, there isn’t much of one. But Syria has one of the most interesting industries around.

Sexy secrets of the Syrian souk

By Martin Asser
BBC News, Damascus

Just off the crowded central market in Old Damascus, a sales assistant called Mahmoud is giving me my first introduction into an unusual Syrian speciality – musical knickers.

The garments come in many different shapes and colours, and play little tunes – or other extraneous noises like telephone ringtones – all made by small electronic devices hidden in the lining.

Singing underwear isn’t the only item on sale at the “Fatin Shop for Ladies Indoor Clothing”, where Mahmoud is proudly showing off his product lines.

He’s got knickers with flashing fairy lights, others that glow in the dark, a bra-and-knickers set shaped like manicured women’s hands enveloping the wearer’s crotch and breasts.

In a slightly higher price range, he’s got remote-controlled bras and knickers, designed to spring open and fall to the floor with a clap of the hands or a press of a button.

Welcome to the no-frills world of Syrian lingerie – no frills, but plenty of tassels, and feathers, and zips, and bras which open like curtains, and…

There’s a whole street off the historic Hamadiyeh Souk selling this genre of clothing – all outfits manufactured in Syria, some that Madonna herself might blush to wear, all showing bawdy creativity and a wicked sense of humour.

Culture shock

Forthright displays of the some world’s kinkiest “leisure wear” have long been a feature of Syrian souks – though many tourists don’t notice the crotchless knickers and PVC French maid outfits among the more traditional inlaid backgammon sets and textiles.

It stems from the Syrian tradition for brides-to-be to be given a trousseau of exotic underwear – sometimes dozens of items – usually by girlfriends, aunties and cousins, to add spice to their wedding nights, honeymoons and beyond.

With a glint in his eye, Mahmoud, who’s barely out of school himself, says “some ladies keep coming back until their 30s”.

Now two London-based Arab women, Rana Salam and Malu Halasa, are shining a spotlight on this little-known local speciality, with a new book called The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie.

“They used to tell me at art school: ‘Look within your culture’. So I looked and I was in for a big surprise,” graphic designer Ms Salam told me at the launch in London last month.

“The point of the book is to go beyond politics, to break stereotypes and celebrate Middle Eastern sexuality and pleasure. Call it kitsch, call it whatever you like, but I think this attire is superb, spontaneous, pure art.”

On display at the launch party are a few of the most elaborate (but silent) designs, framed on the wall as works of art, including the “hands” bikini.

“I mean, Jean Paul Gaultier eat your heart out,” she says pointing to another exhibit, a bright red wire spiral bra, with white roses over the nipple area and covered in a host of plastic butterflies.

Satisfaction guaranteed

What may be a new discovery to outsiders is that Islamic sexual mores are not only about veiling women, segregating the sexes and austerity.

On the contrary, sex is there to be enjoyed to the maximum by Muslims – as long as they are married Muslims – and there are numerous religious exhortations on the importance of foreplay, mutual titillation and satisfaction for both partners.

Adventurous underwear is popular among conservative Muslim couples

Indeed, if a husband fails to satisfy his wife sexually – or vice versa – it is considered grounds for divorce under Islamic law.

In Damascus, I paid a call on one of Syria’s most established lingerie makers, Ali Nasser, in his cramped workshop in the Sheikh Saad neighbourhood.

I’m amazed how fast a brand new red satin bra and g-string takes shape from his old sewing machine – his expert eye and skilful hands honed by more than 30 years in the business.

A red feather boa – chicken feathers, imported from China – is then snipped up and bits of it glued on to the satin, a canvas for the next stage, toy birds and fake flowers, and of course hidden electronic music devices.

In other cultural contexts, this might seem something like a den of smut and vice – but Mr Nasser, a devout Muslim, insists it’s more a public service and religious duty.

“Our work is all about igniting the desires of a husband for his wife, so he doesn’t go looking elsewhere. It’s a good thing and there’s nothing wrong it.”

“There’s no shame in religion,” he adds, as another tiny, shiny g-string shoots out of Mr Nasser’s sewing machine.

[ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7786564.stm also feature some surreally captioned images and a very educational video but i’m too technologically challenged to put them up here]

I love being Muslim. We’re just so F-psshhhted up.

22 Responses to “He he he…F-pshhht.”
  1. Anas Imtiaz says:

    *waiting for farooqk’s comment*

  2. Hira S. says:

    Anas, never thought I’d say this, but so’m I.

  3. Absar says:

    Remote controlled lingerie? GOD that is not even remotely arousing :s That’s quite a kill-fun, actually.

  4. Absar says:

    And why do people always refer to sex as a necessity for survival? Why can’t we just accept that it’s downright fun? 😛 I mean, it’s not like if babies were delivered by storks people would stop having sex! 😛

  5. Pinky says:

    clever marketing @ Our work is all about igniting the desires of a husband for his wife, so he doesn’t go looking elsewhere. It’s a good thing and there’s nothing wrong it.”
    umm but how exactly they ensure that its the wife and not the err other woman who is buying their stuff?
    by the way, why were you researching Syrian fashion industry in particular? you are leaving Pakistan too :/

  6. Hira S. says:

    well, you see. i COULD. but i’d have the right to say that only after experience, no? it’s like saying hamburgers are delicious without ever having tasted a hamburger.

  7. Absar says:

    That may be true, but you haven’t given birth yet either, so take back your other argument too! 😛

  8. Absar says:

    Hey, where did your comment go? :s

  9. Absar says:

    This is the first blog I’m seeing that’s spamming the authors comments 😛

  10. Minerva says:

    Fucking shit. Middle-eastern hypocrisy for sex strikes again.


  11. Hira S. says:

    you’d be surprised at what my blog can think up to annoy me Absar. And sex being necessary for survival is a FACT, yaar (atleast it was before test tubes, artificial insemination and cloning). Sex being fun, on the other hand, is something a lot of people might NOT agree with (hence opinion, not fact).
    And no pinky, not going anywhere, thank God. This was for an assignment about the Syrian retail clothing industry. I typed ‘Syrian fashion’ and this is what came up.

    True Minerva. F-in shit it is.

  12. Minerva says:

    I’ve emailed you the password, Hiraness.

  13. anas imtiaz says:

    what’s wrong with the theme…its like an old newspaper…and archives are there in 2 columns..why oh why?

  14. Rashid says:

    Minerva: Hypocrisy? what hypocrisy? are you saying that those women wear these undergarments while walking on roads? Are you saying that you don’t make romantic attempts to please your husband? Darn!

  15. AD says:

    sex is surely a need for survival like food water and air 😐

  16. Minerva says:

    I’m saying that for a society that wants to cover women from head to toe, they sure are creative about sex.

    And I don’t want to have this discussion all over again. You can read my blog posts for this long and detailed and POINTLESS discourse.

  17. thanks for the share 🙂
    very interesting

  18. Rashid says:

    Creativity has no relationship with a society. Try to make some sense.

    Hira, I also want to download Donnie Darko. Tell me the site address!

  19. Rashid says:

    Darn hira you ate my comment you hungry kid! 😦

  20. Pradeep says:

    Good one, Hira. I agree it shouldn’t be a taboo. But perhaps, it’s the taboo that makes it all the more interesting! There is a theory (not quite scientific, I am sure) that selective swearing is good for health. An improvisation that would sound better I have heard is shuk (or shuks), which combines two words: one ending with ‘it’ and the other beginning with ‘fu’. By the way, there is a famous Austrian town by the f letter word ending with -ing.

  21. Minerva says:

    Creativity has no relationship with a society.

    That’s incredibly self-evident from your comment.

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