Location:Home > news > starting from Le Lido or Moulin Rouge." But another interviewee thought the lingerie is "almost don

starting from Le Lido or Moulin Rouge." But another interviewee thought the lingerie is "almost don

Time:2018-07-05 00:14Underwear site information Click:

Lingerie Panties Secret from life

The Secret Life of Syrian LingeriePanties from the "Axis of Evil"

While visiting Syria, two London-based women of Arab origin became fascinated by the risqué lingerie openly on display in the souqs and shops of Damascus and Aleppo. The book they now produced is one of the most unusual publications you are likely to see on the Arab world, says Susannah Tarbush

​​In addition to photographs of the lingerie on display, the book has photographs of lingerie modelled by pale-skinned women, mostly East European. These pictures are from catalogues which are readily available in lingerie outlets, despite the taboo on the showing of explicit images of women in public. One of those Halasa interviewed for the book is Syrian writer and political activist Ammar Abdulhamid (who lives as a dissident in the USA). He describes Syria as a traditional culture facing a postmodern culture. "If you take a cross section of Syrian culture, you are going to see a spectrum of different cultural values that cross a thousand years, but they all exist right now in one single moment."

Bringing Mid-Eastern popular culture to the West

Halasa and Salam have a long record of bringing Middle Eastern popular culture to the West. Halasa, who is of mixed Jordanian and Filipino parentage, has contributed to numerous publications and books in Britain and the US. She is a founding editor of the cultural magazine Tank, and a former managing editor of the Prince Claus Fund Library. Among the books she has co-authored are "Creating Spaces of Freedom: Culture in Defiance", "Transit Beirut" and "Transit Tehran".

Model from a lingerie catalogue

Old-fashioned ideas on sexuality in the educated classes? Opinion is divided in Syria

​​Rana Salam, whose roots are in Lebanon, is a graduate of Central St Martin's College of Art and Design in London and of the Royal College of Art. Her design studio is inspired by Middle Eastern popular art and street culture, and her clients include institutions such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and major retailers such as Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Paul Smith. Halasa's essay 'Competing Thongs: The Lingerie Culture of Syria', takes the reader on a tour of the lingerie manufacturers and shops of Damascus and Aleppo. Lingerie has become an essential part of the wedding trousseau: "If a groom doesn't buy the lingerie for his wife-to-be, the bride herself or her mother does, sometimes collecting up to thirty outfits for her wedding night." The essay is accompanied by Lebanese photographer Reine Mahfouz's photographs of lingerie factories, window displays and shops where veiled women buy lingerie from male assistants.

"Syrian society tackles sexuality head-on"

Halasa asks Abdulhamid about Syria's reputation within the region for earthiness and raunchiness. He replies: "Syrian society tackles sexuality head-on and looks at it in a very direct manner, which some people might find strange because it is supposedly a conservative society." There is overt discussion of sexuality even in mixed gatherings of men and women. "Sometimes it doesn't matter whether the people are religious or not. Sexual jokes are common currency in Syrian society."

Shop for women's clothing in Damascus, Syria (photo: Reine Mahfouz)

Numerous hadiths stress the importance of female sexuality - at least according to Ammar Abdulhamid, a political activist in American exile

​​There is a double edge to his comments on the racy type of Syrian lingerie. On the one hand, "you're turning women into sex toys. They're not supposed to be sexually stimulating to other people, but at home, to the husband, they're supposed to provoke his sexuality and dress in the manner that will attract him and do whatever he says." But at the same time, "it gives women a lot of control. Women can use sexuality to manipulate men." An idea stated by some of those quoted in the book is that a woman should entertain her husband at home, including dancing for him. Some claim that the Koran contains such an injunction. Abdulhamid says this is not the case, but that "thousands of prophetic traditions support these ideas about women." Certainly some Syrians consider that if a woman "entertains" her husband, this will keep him away from other women and prostitutes, and will reduce the risk that he will take a second wife.

Provoking embarrassment

The book furthermore includes a journal written by the Aleppo-born Canadian filmmaker Nora Kevorkian when she went to Damascus in 2001 to make the film "Veils Uncovered" about women living near Souq al-Hamadiyeh. The prizewinning film angered some individuals and Syrian political groups who alleged that it stereotyped Muslim women.

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