This post is by WGEI participant Anyx Burd:
The Final countdown
In the words of a famous rock band: it’s the final countdown. We have come to the last week of this marvelous adventure to Morocco. This trip has really taught me a lot about self acceptance, keeping an open mind, and coming out of my comfort zones. On this journey I have listened to many social justice speakers on issues dealing with racism, immigration, and gender inequality and so far, the most interesting speakers have been on gender equality.
In Morocco, I’ve noticed everything from different variations of wearing a hijab, the Amazigh culture, and the lack of veggie burgers. Each piece of their culture has intrigued me in a positive and negative way, especially views on the way to respect women. At first I got real Millennial bra burning feminist towards how I saw it as an injustice that men who are supposed to be so dedicated to their religion treat women the way they do and felt it was a catastrophe and they all need to be taught a lesson. I had to calm down and check my privilege and realize where I’m at. In Morocco, the public space is a man’s space and they feel as though they own that space. However, that does not mean to use your gender to make me feel like a piece of face and boobs and cat call me on the street. I mean in America, I got it, but on my body and not anything else and it wasn’t as calm as it out here. But neither situation is better than the other and I have been so frustrated and needed to talk to a group of women to get their opinions on this gender injustice, which is exactly what happened today.
Today 7 women (plus Jamila’s insightful daughter, Fanou) came together to let us ask them questions about gender and sexuality in Agadir and I have to say, I was very satisfied. Out here sometimes when I ask a question to Moroccans I get either a beat around the bush type answer, or I don’t get an answer at all, so for them to actually take the time to answer all of our questions with straight up answers, was really cool. I asked questions like if they looked down upon if they are not wearing a hijab or if menstrual periods are a taboo subject. The women made sure to take their time and answer each question honestly, in her own special way. For example, I asked if in their travels out of Morocco, if men treated them differently and one woman said that when she went to Paris, she was not cat-called, or harassed in comparison to Morocco, but another woman said the complete opposite and said that she was harassed sexually and racially. At the end of it all. They just agreed to disagree which I found very strong of them.
Which leads me to my next topic; when these women were asked what’s the main problem with the women in Morocco, I found it very interesting that some of them said that some women have been brainwashed and just won’t stand up for themselves or get a education to get themselves out of that “stuck” feeling. I had to analyze it for a second. Imagine, all you were told your whole life was that you were meant to marry a man, and be a housewife for the rest of your natural life without the gifts of education, personal freedom, or self discovery. Would you really try to think about going out of your comfort zone or out of anything you were taught and had been drilled into your head? Unless you have some sort of outside support system then no, you’re going to keep going with your life and not worry about changing your mindset or even your life.
Unfortunately that is a common truth out here but for the ones who do have some sort of support or drive to do more, they are changing the common perception of Moroccan women, and certainly challenging my own, making it known that women are strong enough to do what they want , be with who they want, and marry who they want, whenever they choose they want to.