Photo by Kate Brooks/Polaris for The New York Times
This article in the New York Times was a bit of an eye opener. And to think I thought it was just in America. I was wrong.
In an article by Katherine Soepf,
This is a city of nightclubs, but the nightlife is something else these days, and not just because of the feverish edge sharpened by the war last summer.Belly buttons and highly eroticized bodies? This isn't Bar Norfolk but Beirut, Lebanon? I'm just surprised Little Bo Peep and Miss Muffett aren't on that bar.
By 8 p.m., women in their 20s and early 30s are prowling in packs of five and six, casting meaningful glances at any and all passing men. In the bars the women dance for hours — often on top of the bar — and legs, midriffs, bare shoulders and barely covered bosoms are offered for public admiration.
Samir Khalaf, a professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut, said the scene astonished his American colleagues. “They are just shocked,” he said. “ ‘This is Lebanon, the Middle East?’ they say. They can’t stop talking about all the belly buttons, about all these highly eroticized bodies. You see it everywhere here, this combination of consumerism and postmodernism and female competition.”
For a few weeks twice a year, after Ramadan and before Christmas, thousands of Lebanon’s young men return from jobs abroad — and run smack into one of the world’s most aggressive cultures of female display. Young women of means have spent weeks primping and planning how to sift through as many men as possible in the short time available. The austere month of Ramadan ended a week ago.