Mauj: The Boundary-Breaking Sexual Wellness Platform For Arab Women
“Do you know what an orgasm feels like?” Teta asked, smiling. “Well, your grandfather never gave me one.”
This bold statement is all the more taboo because ‘Teta’ is an Arab woman. It is one of the anonymously submitted true stories featured in Hakawatiyya, a three-season storytelling series run by Mauj, the ground-breaking digital platform for Arab women, like myself, where sexual wellness, desire and pleasure are openly discussed. It is the first of its kind.
Mauj, the Arabic word for ‘wave’, was started in September 2020 by a group of (anonymous) Arab women from Jeddah, Beirut, Dubai and Cairo who wanted a better experience of sexual and reproductive education for the women in their countries. The platform offers science-backed resources, expert advice, and a safe space in the form of an Instagram page both in English and Arabic, as well as Amwaj, its private Facebook group, which enables women to connect with other Arab women and share concerns with gynaecologists, sex therapists and relationship coaches. In a part of the world where shame, secrecy and chastisement surround matters concerning female desire, Mauj’s virtual offering is seen as both boundary-pushing and controversial.
So the founders went one step further with another barrier-breaking creation. Deem (meaning ‘constant rain’ and ‘endless pleasure’ in Arabic) is the first intimate product designed to help Arab women discover their sexuality and pleasure on their own terms. Needless to say, they had to be mindful of the environment in which their consumers exist, so it had to be discreet. A pink, droplet-shaped personal product that easily camouflages as any kind of hygiene tool, the name Mauj does not appear on the product, box or even on bank statements, and the box does not contain any instructions that point to what the product is meant for – but those who know, know.
As an Arab woman myself, I can testify that when there is no one who looks like you discussing subjects such as sex and pleasure, and one is made to feel guilt for experiencing such ‘taboo’ human experiences, this community is a lifeline. The importance of Mauj putting Arab women at the forefront of this discussion cannot be overstated. It is the first time, but it should definitely not be the last. This is just the beginning of a discussion we’ve needed to have for a long time.
Noran Morsi is a freelance journalist based in New York City, with Cairo roots. She’s an MFA candidate at New York University’s literary reportage programme and a YouTube journalism fellow