Sunday, June 16, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 5: General Thoughts on Morocco - the Good and the Bad

Just some general thoughts on my life in Morocco:

In case you haven’t heard from Twitter, I love it here :) There are very few things I am having a hard time tolerating, and it’s mostly gender-related stuff. Tell you about that in a minute. For now, other stuff!

My host family’s really, really nice. They’re giving a great impression of Moroccans, and I’m falling more and more in love with Moroccans every day because of my family’s generosity, kindness, and just overall attitude towards me and my roommate. They make us feel completely at home and remind us over and over that this is our home and that we can make here whatever we want, do whatever we want, etc. They’re open-minded, not judgmental (basically, they’re accepting of whatever of my religious views that they’ve heard so far #wink. That’s a huge deal, if you know me even a little, hah!). I don’t (like to) cover my hair all the time, and they haven’t pressured me in any way at all or told me that it’s an obligation or anything like that.

Morocco is generally a very diverse place. Although everyone I’ve met so far identifies her/himself as Arab, I couldn’t describe “the average” Moroccan to you in terms of her/his looks, hair, skin color, clothing, etc. They come in different skin colors, looks, and so on. (I know some mind find this statement problematic, but I’m gonna say it anyway: I could easily tell you if someone’s Pakistani/South Asian or not—as opposed to, say, Southeast Asian (? Bah – I know identity politics isn’t simple like this, but.) My point is that Moroccans are very diverse in terms of ... their (genetic?) make-up.)

Then there’s the women’s clothing: there are women who wear the hijab (head-covering only, as opposed to an entire body-covering) only, there are those who wear a full body-covering in addition to the hijab without covering their faces, there are those who cover their full bodies including their faces, there are those who don’t wear the hijab at all, there are those who wear capris and shorts up to their knees.

Men, of course, are never important to deal with in terms of their clothing (sarcasm intended, please), so no need to talk about them—but fyi, anyway, it’s the same as everywhere else on earth: pants and shirts and no need for hyper/hypo-sexualized clothing, etc., ‘cause they’re not sexualized creatures like we women are. And stuff.

So the gender-related things I’m having a hard time with: men staring at women every-damn-where, and you can’t stare back because, duh, that’s just not how it works. Another thing I just can’t standing is the gender roles on TV as well as in real life: any and everything related to housework or cleaning is simply left to women. The cooks at the center are all females, the cleaning-persons are all females; at the cafĂ© I frequent (because it has really good internet) has only female janitors. On TV, any commercial related to cleaning, washing, cooking, or other domestic chores ... you guess it: only women.

I know that America isn’t the best place in the world, either, when it comes to gender roles, but I really, really miss it because at least many people would speak out against these kinds of things, and this wouldn’t be considered “normal” and “natural.”

But the men staring at women like we’re just out for display or something! OH EM GEE, FOLKS!! SHOOT ME!!! Look, I’m trying really, really hard to become a more positive person, and I’m learning so many good things from my experiences in Morocco, especially about myself, but the thing that tends to give me a hard time and too frequently succeeds in bringing me down is this whole staring business. And it’s not just that I’m very obviously a foreigner (although it’s not THAT obvious—I still look “Arab,” some Moroccans tell me; but I’m often seen with my white American roommate). But they also stare at Moroccan women who are fully covered—so much for that lie that covering your body will stop men from staring at you, right? That’s BS, folks. BS.

Men stare at us because they can. It’s as simple as that. They know they’ll get away with it, they know we’ll do nothing about it, and they know that if we tell them not to, they’ll simply say, “Then why’re you out in the public?” as if the public space belongs to them, damnit.

So, yeah. I’m not denying that women’s being stared at by men doesn’t happen in America, but honestly, I rarely feel it there. I’m not denying that other women must have different experiences than I do with this in America, but at the same time, here, as in Pakistan, everyone notices that this is a problem, every female I’ve talked to about it is sick of it, and even the men I’ve spoken to about it—like our teachers at the center—admit this is a common problem in Morocco.

I dream of an era in which harassment of this form or any other form will no longer be a problem in any society.

I guess that must be all for today on general thoughts on Morocco. More soon, I promise! I need to sleep now :)



  1. Nicely writtern.
    Related to topic, well I always wonder why God has made the male superior over female.

  2. Again a nice and thought provoking post!I agree with you in terms of men staring at women. I would say..." The more close society...the more staring :)"

    In modern and open societies though it happens too some times but it doesn't make the women and girls feels sick or offended. They can dress and live the way they want to do. While in Pakistan like country its bit much difficult. stuff like this make the girls very vulnerable in society.


Dare to opine :)

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