DOS & DON'TS
MEER VAN VICELAND
TEXT BY FAREED ABAS ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTY KARACAS
“Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll” is a Western concept. In Iraq, it’s more about the lack of these things. Nightclubs don’t exist, sex is sacred and private, and you’d have a better chance seeing two people making out in the street than you would of finding drugs being sold. Even if you spent your whole life in Iraq like me, you might never see these things.
Iraqis are a very friendly, conservative people, and are quite pleased with their way of life.
These aren’t things to be proud of. But, if you must know, here you have it.
Iraqi women are known to be some of the most promiscuous in the Middle East. One joke is that Iraqi women’s tits hang low because Iraqi men yank on them during sex. Another thing we have is the eche, the older woman who is easy to lay. I think in American you call this a “cougar.” Many Iraqi men prize the eche, even though she doesn’t look so good, because she is easy to land.
But like everything in Iraq, it’s complicated. On the one hand, there is the woman in the Palestine Hotel who wears a leopard-print bodysuit and pleasures soldiers in the bathrooms. On the other, a woman can be kidnapped, tortured, and raped for wearing a pair of jeans. It’s a toss-up.
Under Saddam it was a lot more secular. Women would wear miniskirts, no problem. But now everyone fears the power of the religious groups. Women want to wear burkas and appear pious so they won’t be a target. If a woman dressed in Western-style clothes was raped, everyone would say she brought it on herself.
Gay men actually have it better than women, but that’s not saying much. Because there is a lot of kissing on the cheek and facial hair plucking, it is hard to tell who is gay and who is just cosmopolitan and stylish. There are many rumors of famous Iraqi actors being gay, and gayness is joked about, but if you were found out by the wrong people, it would likely lead to a quick death. I have no idea where gays meet each other.
rugs in Iraq? Are you crazy? We’re a very conservative and religious society. Almost nobody does street drugs. Getting high in Iraq is more about pharmaceuticals. The preferred drug is Rivotril (the same thing as Klonopin), which is prescribed for epilepsy. It’s called abu issaleeb, which means “the one with the cross.” This is because the pill is shaped like a cross to make it easier to break into smaller doses.
hen Iraqis first heard Black Sabbath they went crazy for the music. Heavy metal got very big. In the 80s, American metal bands would occasionally come play in Baghdad, and Iraqi headbangers would ride to concerts on their Harleys, wearing leather and chains and long feathered hair just like metalheads in the US.