Sexuality from where we stand

theAproject celebrates sexual diversity and gender non-conformity. We believe that everyone has the right to express their gender, sexual preference, sexual behavior, and desires in a harm-free and consensual space. Because we do not live single-issue lives, the celebration of sexuality is stifled in the daily struggles against systemic oppressions: racism, classism, gender discrimination, sectarianism, ageism, ableism, capitalism, war, violence, colonialism, and occupation.

theAproject views sexuality as a core battle to reclaiming bodily autonomy and political agency. We define ourselves as part of a sex-positive movement and believe that a wide variety of expressions of sexuality can be empowering.

The subjugation of women’s bodies is supported by claims to “protect honor” and “preserve morality” by cultural and religious forms of patriarchy, thereby controlling women’s sexual expression and reducing their bodies solely to regulated reproductive roles. The taboos, social norms, and legal frameworks surrounding sexuality in Lebanon contribute to ‘rape culture’, where rape and sexual violence are common and the attitudes, norms, practices, and media representations normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone sexual violence. The methods and tools of ‘rape culture’ include victim blaming, slut-shaming, sexual objectification and sexual exploitation in the media, and trivializing rape. The legal frameworks, law enforcement mechanisms, and judiciary in Lebanon remain invested in corruption and in privileging the perpetrators of violence and silencing survivors. Policy and law changes are insufficient without a strong sexual rights movement to challenge the dominant patriarchal discourse, as well as a re-envisioning of women’s citizenship in relation to the state.

We note that rape myths increase with the incidence of racism, transphobia, homophobia, ageism, classism, violence and armed conflict, as well as other forms of discrimination done to discredit marginalized women. And, therefore, the fight against sexual violence and harassment is a multi-layered battle that addresses a system of injustices and discriminations. We must work towards challenging rape culture and sexual harassment through supporting those who speak out, fight back and break the barriers controlling sexual expression.

In adopting a queer resistance framework to our sexual politics, we reject international identity politics that seek to co-opt our struggles into neo-liberal labels though the normalization and justification of violence and occupation through tactics such as pinkwashing and the so-called “war on terror”.

theAproject wages the fight for reproductive and sexual health, including access to contraception, safe abortions, comprehensive sexuality education, and HIV treatment especially for women and trans* individuals . We see that all women, transwomen, and transmen, who are placed at the lower end of sexual hierarchy, have the right to access services of sexual and reproductive health and have the right to be treated with respect, provided with choices, and be free of harm. We believe that selling sex need not inherently be exploitative; but criminalizing and attempting to abolish sex work, as well as the violence and attitudes that encompass such attempts, lead to an abusive climate for sex workers that must be challenged. Women who are in sex work may do so for many different reasons, and we feel it is unproductive to target prostitution as an institution. Instead, the lives of people within the industry need to be improved on the socioeconomic level and that can only begin by addressing the stigma against sex workers. While we support sex workers to organize and better their work conditions, we are aware that sex trafficking perilously attacks the safety, health, and freedoms of its victims.

We recognize that people with disabilities also have sexual impulses, desires, fantasies, and activities. It is women, migrant women, poor women, refugee women, women with disabilities, sex workers, and trans* persons, who don’t harbor enough privileges and are always hidden, marginalized, or demonized by patriarchy and/or made forgotten in the discourse on gender and sexuality and in the agendas of advancing reproductive and sexual health and rights. It is our task to project their voices first and for each of us to challenge our own systemic privileges in the process.

 

Where victimization, sensationalization, and policing are the dominant discourses framing sex, sexuality, and gender there is a paucity of and dire need for celebration, sex-positivity, and affirmation.