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zarîfa/tharifa

(Arabic) “Witty,” also in other variants of the word. This might be classed as a euphemism or slang. According to some medieval Arabic texts, women would refer to each other as “witty” to imply sexual interest in women, but it was also part of a broader cultural understanding of an interest in a sophisticated and sensual lifestyle.

LHMP entry

Several of the articles in Same Sex Love and Desire Among Women in the Middle Ages look outside the European sphere that the phrase “Middle Ages” normally implies. Malti-Douglas looks at the language and discorse around lesbianism in medieval Arabic texts, particularly as contrasted with the treatment of male homosexuality which is mentioned extensively in medieval Arabic/Islamic texts.

He calls grinding an “illness” and offers various possible causes, including having an “inverted womb” (a variant on the clitoral hypertrophy motif), or a mis-match between the shape of a woman’s vagina and the shape of the penis. Another possible cause he lists is the mother’s diet during breast-feeding. Some women pick up the habit from having sex with concubines. Another explanation is that grinding is a natural appetite, derived from a variant of humoral theory.

Chapter 4: A close reading of Aĥmad Ibn Yusuf Tifashi’s Nuzhat al-Albab - Toward re-envisioning the Islamic Middle East

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