Gender-sensitive currents in the Arab world, such as feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) movements, continue to be challenged by questions of language. If these currents are truly organic products of Arab thought, shouldn’t this allow for the seamless coinage of new terms or indeed a move to appropriate and remodel old ones? And how do we ensure that these concepts remain rooted in and relevant to Arab sociocultural life?

Arguably one of the most central concepts in feminist thought, gender has been variably translated into Arabic as al-nawʿ (kind, species), al-jins (sex), and al-nawʿ al-ijtimaʿi (social kind), reflecting deeper conceptual problems and obscuring its meaning for nonacademics (Mehrez 2007, 110–17). Similarly, while Arabic engagements with masculinity have existed since the 1970s (Al-Saadawi 1973; Tarabishi 1997), Arabizing the term masculinity continues to...

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