Skip to content Skip to navigation

Lesbian Historic Motif Project: #102c Habib 2009 "On the Mention of Grinding and Grindings" in al-Yemeni, Ahmad Bin Mohamad Bin Åli (d. 850)

Full citation: 

Habib, Samar. 2009. Arabo-Islamic Texts on Female Homosexuality: 850-1780 A.D. Teneo Press, Youngstown. ISBN 978-1-934844-11-3

Publication summary: 

This book makes a good companion volume to Habib's other works as it provides a comprehensive set of the texts she's working with. (The relevant parts of them, at least.) It also includes the text of two lectures that provide background and context for the texts themselves.

Historic Texts: "On the Mention of Grinding and Grindings" in al-Yemeni, Ahmad Bin Mohamad Bin Åli (d. 850).

I'm going to give myself a little rest in pre-writing LHMP entries by drawing out the rest of this content a bit more than I ordinarily would. With the exception of the last couple of texts, the remaining entries for this book will cover one text at a time and list the topics covered. Including any level of detail would pretty much entail copying entire chunks of text, so if you want the details, I strongly advise getting a copy of the book. I don't usually include shopping links, but in this case, I'm going to do so. If you have any serious interest in this topic at all BUY THIS BOOK.

* * *

An Appendix of Texts from the Arabian Middle Ages Concerned with Female Homosexuality

”On the Mention of Grinding and Grindings” in al-Yemeni, Ahmad Bin Mohamad Bin Åli (d. 850).

Explains the nature of “grinding” and the vocabulary.

Notes the hadith the equates grinding with fornication.

Gives the story of Hind credited as the first “grinder”.

Gives the story of Rughum and Najda (tragic lovers).

There are two types of grinders: those who do not hate the penis and those who reject it utterly. Among the first type, motivations for taking up grinding include: physical incompatibility, lack of sexual satisfaction with men, unavailability of men, to avoid pregnancy or scandal, initially as one subordinate to a grinder who then comes to prefer it. The second type is called Mutathakeera (a “masculine” woman). From an early age she competes with men and refuses to submit to them. She is jealous and protective of women. Some claim she has an enlarged clitoris and that when she engages in sex with women both enjoy a greater pleasure than with men, but the author contradicts this claim and says that it’s only that men are ignorant of the clitoris and if they paid more attention to it sex with them would be just as good. A Mutathakeera may sometimes enjoy sex with a specific man (especially a beardless boy) but this doesn’t negate her general rejection of men.

A conversation between a Mutathakeera and a woman she is courting who is afraid of pregnancy but still prefers sex with men. (The “straight” women in the next few examples are identified by the word mutaqeeya and in this example it’s suggested that this means “a woman afraid of pregnancy”, but it isn’t clear whether the word specifically means “a woman who might participate in grinding due to fear of pregnancy but who otherwise prefers men” or simply “a heterosexual woman”.) Both parties present their cases at length, including quotations of poetry. The difference of opinion is treated politely as a matter of taste and differences in what gives pleasure, rather than as a moral matter or a claim that one way is universally better than the other. The heterosexual woman offers to introduce the grinder to a beautiful beardless youth she might find esthetically acceptable.

Another exchange, both of poetry and erotic artwork, between a grinder and a Mutaqeeya each arguing the pleasures of their preference. The grinder’s offering includes a very poetic description of oral sex with a comparison to a thirsty person drinking from a well. This image is then used to protest that if it is lawful (halal) for a thirsty person to drink, how could it be forbidden (haram) to enjoy this pleasure?
Examples of poetic criticisms of grinding from male viewpoints, using metaphors like “a war without weapons” and “shield banging against shield”

Time period: 

Add new comment