[I've been writing this post in my head for awhile now. If you have happened to stumble upon it after googling "sex in amman" then this is NOT what you're looking for.]
Since I’ve come back the number one question I’ve been asked is “how has Amman changed?”. My typical reply was until recently “the buildings”. Yes, in the past 5 years perhaps the buildings of Amman have changed. Big deal.
Now what I’ve concluded is that the sexual revolution in Amman has been hands down the biggest change in the city this past half decade.
The stories I hear are some that I refused to believe until I witnessed a few things first hand. Sex has become so commonplace in West Amman that it’s not even funny, it’s actually quite sad. It’s not only the normalization of sex but the ease in which it’s available. A night at the club is pretty much a guarantee for most people. Relationships have become sexually based; or in other words, hooking up for the sole reason of having sex.
Guys who have one night stands at least once a week is the new norm. It will take a minimum of one drink, one dance, perhaps several sentences of conversation to seal the deal.
New ways to get around old ways…
A group of friends will each pay 50JDs a month to rent an apartment somewhere in Rabia or Khalda or Tla Ali, as a make out joint; a sexual clubhouse, an intercourse timeshare.
Certain places are socially stained with rumors. Whispers, known for its great steaks, is also the place where a lot of married women conduct their extra-marital (affairs) business. That’s just one example.
Specific clubs have specific times, specific windows of opportunity if you will. Guys, well educated in this field, will drive from one to another; hunting.
And when I say ‘guys’ I’m actually also referring to girls.
It used to be incredibly difficult for a male to “score” and back in high school the successful ones were made into legends. Now, their actions are peanuts compared to the norm. Primarily because back then girls closed most of the windows of opportunity that are wide open today (no pun intended). Many females would argue against the existence of “sexually-suggestive” or “provocative” fashion, but if you still think it doesn’t exist then there’s a list of places you can just to step outside that bubble. The fashion is of course backed up with an attitude; an approach.
Notice here that I’m not assigning blame to any specific gender here: both are victims and both are perpetrators; if such roles are to be assigned at all.
The reason I call it a sexual revolution is simple.
Countries such as the U.S. had progressive sexual evolutions that occurred in stages from mainly the 1950′s upwards. Ours was a revolution that happened virtually over night. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other and the results have been noticeable. There are those that would argue “it’s always been there, but undercover”, I would counter that with the fact that it really doesn’t count if it’s “undercover” and also the fact that it was no way near the level of where it’s at today. No way.
Random individuals hooking up for 10 minutes and that’s it. Forget religious rules of the Islamic world, there doesn’t even seem to be the 3-date rule of the Western world.
Girls as young as 15; married women as old as 45. From stylish just-came-from-the-salon hair, to the hijab adorned ladies. From virgins to mothers. And guys from all over, but mostly those who drive nice cars and spend money like they don’t care.
My best friend has a relative who we can call a “smooth operator”. And seeing this guy in action is quite the sight. His looks do not get him far at all, but perhaps his charismatic and fearless behavior gets him into bed with a random girl at least every other day or so. He tells us that after 2 minutes of conversation with someone he will put the invitation on the table straight out. This is in the cases where he doesn’t get the offer first within those 2 minutes (5, if its a very pretty girl who’s throwing him off his game a bit). He tells us that the first question he’ll be asked by a girl is whether he has an apartment.
You kind of have to see it to really, really, believe it.
But what happens now?
Do things spiral further down that direction or does it only set the stage for another rise in ultra-conservatism? I wouldn’t be surprised to see both things happening simultaneously.
We are swinging between the extremes and the middle ground has been pretty much lost. It’s become very difficult for someone to maneuver in this environment without leaning and thus falling in a certain direction.
So when I get asked the second biggest question these days: “how are you adjusting”, I say “barely”. It’s become difficult to lead a moderate life. I’m lucky to be surrounded with a particular group of friends that share common interests and that makes things easier. But we are bombarded with the extremes every time we go out and we spend half the time just looking for a place to escape to.
Where do we go from here?
The answer is too scary for me to even think about.