By Hanane Ouachlale
By Hanane Ouachlale
Morocco World News
Meknes, Nov 3, 2012
I’ve been astonished when I consider the words I heard from my sisters before marriage and the radical change I have noticed in them after marriage. “No jeans, no fashionable dresses instead a djellaba and a veil”. Of course, a drastic change in her external appearance, but the worst is the change in how she thinks. I one day asked her, what are the changes marriage has brought to you? Her answer was stunningly cold. She said: “I was smart enough to get a husband and that’s all that a woman needs in Morocco”. Respectively, I think that she was out speaking about the Moroccan culture.
In Morocco, marriage is highly recommended for every man and woman. Women do have an age pressure and can be nicknamed a “spinster” at the age of 30 and over. Unlike men, women’s acts and sexuality are supervised by their families as well as their neighbors, who intermingle in the supervision game. This pressure leads many women to consider marriage more important than their studies and their ambitions. A woman can drop out of school easily to marry at an early age. She can also resort to her parents’ will for an arranged marriage that can secure her a decent living. The will of a woman is relegated to a second position as is her position in the public sphere. In recent years, this has changed considerably with the education of women but despite being educated some women still remain subalterns to their families’ influence.
What do women think of marriage? Is it a life long decision where the two reciprocally swear trust, love and commitment? Or is it just a way to escape cultural and social pressure? I am writing considerably about the issue since I find out that marriage in Moroccan society is more cultural than a personal choice.
Far worse for me, to give an example, my private life becomes public and my personal matters are exposed to my colleagues. At the work place, everyone knows I am not married. The pressure to find a husband becomes a daily nightmare. I tried all the answers in the world as responses to their questions. Just lately, I realized that the best answer is to disregard them. Who am I as an individual? What does privacy mean in the Moroccan culture? In collective cultures like mine, being economically independent does not save you from others’ nosiness, and marriage is the only rescue. As a result, I was about to trap myself into some marriage proposals that were destined for failure just to flee the sharpness of their tongues. Indeed, the perception of a single independent working woman is still uneasy to digest especially that the media, another major player, consolidates this patriarchal view.
What do men think of women? And what do women think of themselves? An object of sex to satisfy men’s desires and pleasure, which Rousseau stated during the enlightenment era when he idealized women’s maternal and domestic roles and explained that women are neither citizens nor independent, who relied on powers of manipulation to gain a man’s support. Or as individuals do they have their own perceptions and determined choices.
However, the patriarchal propaganda that is maintained through media, educational institutions, family upbringing, religious and cultural beliefs, etc are strong to shape women’s perceptions of themselves and of the other. Women perceive the whole world from these biased lenses; that is why, I strongly assume that many of our problems are within ourselves. I am as a woman brought up to think that a man is my protector and my rescue. My culture enslaved me in the fear of the other. My sexuality, my reproduction, my freedom of choice are controlled. I am harassed in the streets paying every day the price of my beauty since I have no partner. If I am accompanied by a man, regardless of his age, I am more likely to be respected and secured.
Every man I have crossed in my life qualified me with a gaze into my attractive body but never look into my ideas and thoughts. I pity my masters’ classmates who at every session of Gender studies class say “ all what we say inside class is not what we really think outside;” schizophrenic thoughts of how they think and how they act. In short, I conclude that it is important to build marriage on a solid basis, on communication, commitment and trust between couples not only be a refuge from others’ tongues.
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