thoughts on the context
Last Monday evening, I went to see the biographical film on Fatema Mernissi, Moroccan writer and sociologist who died in 2015, produced by her cousin, “La Soltana Inoubiable”, with my Women, Gender, Islam and Society class. It was a spontaneous decision during yesterday’s class as we were talking about his book we just read and writing an article on “Dreams of Trespasses”. We decided during class, then met my teacher at the theater later that evening to watch the movie together.
The film was in French and Darija, with French and Darija subtitles. The film filled me with joy, inspiration and appreciation for Morocco. The shooting of the film took place in certain places in Rabat, at the Mohammed V University, where my professor teaches most of the time. There were scenes at the Kasbah of the Oudayas and the cafe inside, where I sat in exactly the same place as the actresses in the scene. The film was filled with color, the cinematography captured the colors of Morocco. I got to see aspects of the culture of food, arts, markets, rural and indigenous life, my studies, and the conversations I had with people here throughout the film. It felt like a highlight of the past month.
While I asked my professor after the movie how accurate the portrayal was, as her thesis was on Mernissi, she shared that the movie made Mernissi look much softer and censored than she actually was. My teacher shared that she actually attended some of the lectures featured in the film and Mernissi reacted in a much more vocal way.
Despite this, the film depicts much of the Moroccan culture that I have already seen, experienced, learned. Mernissi also just became another icon in my life last month, so I sat there in awe, inspiration and obsession, as I did when I read and discovered Gloria Steinham and Audre Lorde for the first time. A speaker came the other week who is a journalist and has spent a lot of time in Morocco, and was friends with Mernissi. He shared about his daring fashion with colors and turbans, mixing modernity and traditional clothes. In the film, Mernissi’s eyeliner and makeup always matched her outfits – The film made me want to fully immerse myself in Moroccan culture, to go down to the Medina at that time and buy tea, stools, a basket and colorful eye makeup – He shared how she invites many people from many different communities to big lunches and how she calls it to watch the sunset at that time -the. He even joined her on one of them Civic caravanswhich were trips she undertook to rural Morocco to empower small artists, women carpet weavers and the education of young people.
I sat in the theater reflecting on everything I’ve learned in the past month and how much I’ve integrated into the culture. I may tend to think I don’t sufficient. Not fitting into the culture sufficientnot putting sufficient energy to acquire new experiences. But it was nice to take a break for a few hours, listen to French and Arabic, and a film that encompassed my studies and cultural experiences so far. It made me appreciate my time so far very much and I felt filled with excitement to be here for the next three months as well. The film showed the Moroccan community with open arms. How there is always time to help and share time with each other, share food and tea, and rest. He held me, telling me that I could stay here for a while and that I missed it. As Salama always tells me, and as one of the characters in the film advised young Mernissi, enjoy and enjoy. – more words and mantras that I circulate in my head every day
It’s interesting to be a woman here, coming from a western country and having received an education. Many Western ideologies about Islam and the “Middle East” in general must be fought. These are often my studies in my major and what I touched on through conversations with my Moroccan friends, the program coordinators at Amideast, and my host family. There are certainly prejudices that I have. Like, the discomfort that my foster mom does all the cleaning, washing up and cooking and I don’t have to help. I’m extremely grateful to my foster mom, and it’s a privilege to be 21 and have all of her laundry, cooking, and cleaning done for her. I clean my dishes, my space and my bathroom as much as possible, but in the end, my host mother shows her love and is proud to do these things for me, as most mothers in Moroccan homes do. . Of course, to some extent this can still be debated and women should be duly recognized for their hard work. It is important to remember that these are cultural differences, not cultural advantages and disadvantages to compare and contrast with the United States. For example, my foster sister who is 34 still lives with her mother. It is very common in Morocco. Children can even live with their family until after marriage, which is a welcome and common practice. It can be almost despised or very sad for the family if their children, especially daughters, leave home early.
I’ve had many conversations that are stimulating and broaden my perspective. This is the first time I have lived in a non-secular political country and in an Islamic country. Half the students in my program go to military schools. Living and having conversations in a country that is far less polarized, less politically driven and more respectful overall and will co-exist with very different perspectives – everyone has their own take on things. People are generally less politically active than in the United States. However, I find that it allows people to have their own opinions. Their opinions will not affect society through what they vote for. I met Moroccans who are pro-colonization, those who hate the French, and everything else. There are many more taboo subjects than in the USA such as sexuality, single mothers, criticism of the King, Western Sahara. My classes are small, but the different dynamic between all of our perspectives brings new conversations and thoughts on topics that I’ve previously learned about and discussed from a more leftist, decolonial, but still Western perspective. These conversations have actually helped me to better form and understand my own perspectives on things in the world. The dialogues are more open-minded and respectful. Respect for others is highly valued in Morocco among the people I’ve met so far – to not judge and respect each other on their own.
As an international studies major, focusing on urban studies or women’s and gender studies (undecided), I study how urban systems and structures of women and gender exist across cultures and in different ways. different transnational and global contexts. A major starting point in this Women and Islam course is the question of what feminism looks like, or can it exist, in an Islamic context. Much of what my studies attempt to achieve, and what my own position often is, is that the discourse of “us versus them” needs to be challenged and challenged. Instead, things are just different. Things aren’t better or worse in Morocco or the United States, it’s just different. Problems and unequal power dynamics arise because of this mindset. Concepts and systems cannot be transposed from one context to another. Feminism just looks different, and all differences should be accepted equally and fairly.
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