From ISIS to Sisi, masculinity in the Arab world is being performed and negotiated in different ways. But what does it mean to be a man in the Arab world today? And what are the consequences of performing-- for failing to perform-- certain notions of masculinity?
One of my favorite television shows growing up was a Ramadan special featuring an Egyptian performer called Sherihan. One year she had a Ramadan special called 'Sherihan Around the World', a twenty-minute singing and dancing extravaganza, which had her dressing in exquisite costumes from around the world and performing elaborate song and dance routines. Sherihan was a woman, but she was the best drag queen I had ever seen: camp, self-aware, and fabulous. She had planted in me, without my knowledge, the first seeds of my own gay identity.
Earlier this summer, a young French writer at a literary conference I attended in Berlin said that it was presumptuous for writers-- particularly writers of fiction-- to assume their work held any power to change the world.