November 16, 2010
I want to spend time with Moroccan woman, but not as myself. Undercover, perhaps I could gain some sense of what life is like for woman here. The only way in for me right now is through books. I am reading, Dreams of Trespass, by Fatima Mernissi. Born in 1940, the book is Fatima’s story of growing up in a Harem in Fes. I am just into the first third of the book, but already the multi-generation discussions of boundaries and liberation are fascinating.
After lunch Gord and Matthew went out to walk the city walls and I went to the local hammam.
In Turkey I went to a hammam, but it was in a tourist town and I was the only customer. This was completely different. It was a full of women of all ages shapes and sizes. No French or English was spoken but hand gestures made it easy to figure out what to do. It’s interesting that although in public spaces women are extremely well covered and modest in the hammam, everyone is either naked or in underwear. I can waltz around in public in a tank top and shorts, but put me in a crowded hammam with a woman polishing my skin until it glows and I am the shy one. Interesting.
I don’t think a woman born in Canada who visits Morocco as a tourist can make any claims of understanding the complex gender relations here but I will continue to visit hamams and read my book so that at least I get some clues.