So I have mentioned before how lovely I find Berber men. The sweetest people on the planet. I was never around Berber men during this whole trip when I didn’t feel protected, cared for, looked out for, looked after. Secure. Well, there were some creepy ones along the way for sure, but I am generalizing. Just nice men. Plain and simple.
Mustapha explained long ago that Moroccans will always go out of their way to help you. And they do. Its crazy and endearing and wonderful. He also explained that there is a code among men. You don’t approach women that are with a man. You just don’t. So take that at face value.
During our trip, I often marvelled at the wonder of existing in a male dominated society. You see, women are everywhere in Morocco. Of course. But for the most part, indigenous women have a role to play and they do it. Most of our interactions as foreign women were with men. It was lovely. We had only to deal with our female travel companions, which were plenty, and for the rest it was men.
But encountering women became a mystery. How to approach them? How to engage them? We constantly try to defend Muslim women because – well – sisterhood. In our western way. Maybe they don’t want our kinship? I did not really have any unpleasant interactions with women except the French women at the front desk of our hotel who just stared whenever I spoke. Mouth slightly agape. But Laura did. On two occassions she returned from a routine task in shocked befuddlement over the treatment she had received from a very rude (towards her only) Muslim woman. Huh. A mystery.
We ran into Christine, who is a friend of Jennifer, and she mentioned that the only time she has had any luck engaging local women has been buck naked at the hammam. Well, that makes sense. Its one place, other than their home, where they are in their domain. Certainly the public arena is not their domain. That belongs to the men. And the foreign women. Interesting place Morocco. I guess the next trip will need to include lots of hammam visits to get some interaction.
The other thing I noticed on our last day in Marrakech was the way the men behaved towards us. Similar to the way the men behaved towards us in the beginning. In Casablanca. And one time in a weird place in Meknes. They were slightly more aggressive. I say “slightly” on purpose because I don’t want to give anyone the impression that the men are aggressive. They are not. But they were slightly more chatty, persistent and forthcoming during those times. Those times when we were walking the Medina without a man. Not enough to be concerned. But definitely enough to notice.
Its an interesting dynamic of men, and women, and foreign women. I like it. But I also want to know more.