Lebanon: Finding Sex Through the Party of God?

Just like the time Slate's Jacob Weisberg invited me to join his Mafia family, his latest tweet made me think some wiseass had hacked his Twitter account: "If you're looking for a hook-up in South Beirut, best to go through Hezbolllah." Still, I clicked the link and arrived at a Foreign Policy piece called "The Militarization of Sex (The story of Hezbollah's halal hookups)." It's interesting, unexpected, and nuanced. Seriously.

Now, I should really write that "The Militarization of Sex" seems nuanced. I have no personal knowledge of the pre-marital/extra-marital sexual habits of Hezbollah supporters. So let me stipulate that I can't vouch for any of what Hanin Ghaddar wrote for Foreign Policy. Skeptics should feel free to tuck all that follows in the "Interesting If True" folder of their brain's Trapper Keeper.


There are moments when Ghaddar's piece seems as if it's shaping up to be nothing more than a chronicle of hypocrisy — the literal "Party of God" facilitating "temporary marriages" that allow "couples to have religiously sanctioned sex for a limited period of time, without any commitments, and without the obligatory involvement of religious figures."

But hypocrisy is banal. I wouldn't have called Ghaddar's piece interesting, unexpected, and nuanced if it began and ended with hypocrisy. The striking passages are ones like this:

With his designer jeans, trendy haircut, and sharp sense of humor, Ali seems to be an unlikely Hezbollah supporter. He has always supported the resistance and what Hezbollah has achieved in this regard; however, in the last couple of years, he has developed a strong support for Hezbollah on issues he was previously critical of, such as its affiliation with Iran, involvement in domestic politics, and its religious rhetoric.
Coincidently or not, these developments took place as he was drawn to practice temporary marriage. In his southern village, it is difficult to meet girls and have normal relationships with them, and he acknowledges that getting closer to the party's social network has helped him meet more girls who were open to this kind of marriage. Gradually, Ali stopped drinking alcoholic beverages, took up praying and fasting ...

How to account for Ali's simultaneous trajectories both toward and away from what we'd conventionally think of as a devout life? According to an activist Ghaddar quotes, Hezbollah's social network "is only a matter of more control rather than being tolerant."

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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