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Five marriages and a funeral: Constructing the sexually transgressive female on Arab satellite channels

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This article discusses the sexually transgressive female on Arab satellite channels. The analysis, restricted to two very controversial drama series broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan 2010, focuses on the stratagems by which female roles on satellite channels are seeking to be sexually delivered from, to borrow a term from Heidegger, the 'average everydayness' of women's status as downtrodden second-class citizens. The conflation between the actress/role in the first series, Zahra wa Azwajuha al-Khamsa/Zahra and Her Five Husbands, which tackles the issue of unpremeditated polyandry, created a zone of discomfort that shattered the fantasy the kitschy actress was supposed to cater for. The ensuing anxiety and trauma suspends the fetishization of the actress in a moment when she transgresses, albeit symbolically and unwittingly, into the hitherto male domain of polygamy. The second series, Ma Malakat Aymanukum/What your Right Hand Possesses, resorts to the overarching metaphor of women as slaves and concubines, as evidenced by the title, to present a portrait of epistemic, socio-religious and political violence against women, who fight back to reclaim their bodies and identities from slavery. Although the two series could not be more different in terms of their structure, quality of production and dramatic impact, they were met with equal criticism for their perceived breach of religious and social mores and boundaries.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-08-01

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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