Don’t Blame Femmes Du Maroc

Venus of Irbino

Some of the reactions sparked by the naked picture of Nadia Larguet on the November cover of Femmes Du Maroc (FDM) and the article I wrote about it are rather unsettling. Some make it sound as if Hustler or playboy is being conspicuously sold in newsstands Morocco over, as if FDM is of the same caliber as those magazines that commercialize a woman’s feminine parts as sexual toys for the mind. Our society thinks that all nakedness is immoral and all of today’s modern disposition is immodest and perversive.

Let’s consider FDM’s cover as a Rorschach test of sorts (no offense Nadia. I’m not saying you’re an inkblot.) Those who view the naked pregnant woman’s picture as pornography are, in my opinion, projecting their insecurities and frustrations. Those are the ones who seem incapable of controlling their thoughts and urges. They would rather see a woman clad in a burqa and sequestered at home. If those ideas had prevailed in the 14th century, there would never have been a renaissance; is the “Venus of Irbino” painting pornography? are Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel not art? Is Moroccan writer Abdellah Taia’s novels not literature because he is gay? Is Morocco’s Latrache Abderahmane a neopegan because of his “Nu au Hamam”?

I agree that Islam provided women with rights they were denied by pre-Islamic Arabian societies. However, many scholars agree that the status of woman, after the death of the prophet, slowly reverted back to what it was in pre-Islam era. Islamic women enjoyed more rights during the prophet’s life than they do today.

I respect the choice of some women to wear hijab. Unfortunately, for most women in Moslem countries, it is not a choice; it is a familial and/or societal imposition that is, if not physical, ideological. Western women that wear the hijab are latently aware that there is a set of nonreligious laws upholding their rights not just as women, but as wives. They are content in knowing that their pious husbands cannot possibly admonish and banish them – in accordance with the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 4, Verse 34 – without incurring the wrath of a divorce judge. They reckon their husbands cannot marry younger women as they grow older. It would be unconceivable for an educated woman to detach herself from the protection provided by the laws of modern societies and accept the subjugation exacted on women in countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. And why go far? In rural Morocco today, thousands of bereaved women are battling an archaic system that deprives them of their land inheritance because they have no surviving male relatives.

Some argued that Nadia Larguet does not represent the Moroccan women suffering in our inner cities and remote villages, that she could care less about the plight of women. It may be so. However, Women’s rights advocacy was introduced in the Arab world not by illiterate and destitute women, but by educated, middle class and bourgeois ones. Do you think it would have made sense if FDM posted the photograph of an unknown, poor, and naked woman? A fellow blogger, Jillian C. York, asked me if it was necessary to use such a shocking strategy to convey a message. My answer is: “absolutely yes!”

Do you seriously believe that our problems are caused by the permissiveness adopted from the western world? Do you honestly think that outside of official channels, our kids do not have access to pornography, drugs, Alchohol…? The exposure of Moroccan teenagers to satellite porn channels is a tropism to the repressiveness of our societies; Women are accosted daily in the street of our Moslem cities by frustrated men who demand sex. The hijab and the niqab does not make a difference to them. We’d rather not see any immorality, but we know it is writhing behind our closed doors. We assign a death or life value to a woman’s hymen as if that shred of skin sums up her character and virtue. Teen pregnancy has much to do with sex-ed. A full awareness of the repercussions of unprotected and/or antenuptial sex – Islam calls for the mindless prohibition of the act – can mitigate much of the social problems Morocco is currently mired in.

Of course the king would rather allow naked women on magazine covers and Sex and the City to film in Morocco. It allows his government to proclaim before the world that indeed we have freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

It’s not about Nadia Larguet. She was hardly a household name. The cover of FDM touches the very heart of one of our main problems today not just in Morocco, but in the Arab and Islamic world. We tend to see a naked woman as a sex object only, even a pregnant or an old woman, or a pubescent girl. It speaks volumes of our mentality. It’s not magazines like FDM that are corrupting our morals. We are already driven by a repressed concupiscence hardly witnessed in western countries.

A. T. B. Copyright © 2009

About cabalamuse

venture down those ominous ways thread into that austere city
This entry was posted in Arab World, Children, MOROCCO and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Don’t Blame Femmes Du Maroc

  1. E-Energumene says:

    WTF ?! If We dont like Nudity in Public spaces means that we want to see a woman in a burqa and sequestered at home ?!!

    Is this your way to explain EVERYTHING ? The Moroccans Are ALWAYS extremist, Frustrated… ?

    Im sorry to tell You, NO ! We don’t like a human (women or men) body exposed in front of a magazine for marketing purposes as we dont like Burqa or any lack of respect to women.

    No nudity, no burqa, no sequestration : Just Being normal !

  2. Nabiha says:

    Bravo!
    Loved reading this article and couldn’t agree more on all the points you touched upon.

  3. mona says:

    cabalamuse, with all my respect.i still see having a naked woman on the cover of a moroccan magasine is wrong. why do have you have to be shoking? and was any message conveyed? I doubt it! having a naked moroccan woman on the cover of a magasine, is not us and is not our culture, our religion. as much as having moroccan women wearing burqa is not us…. why trying to be someone else, adopt their methods of conveyimg messages or making a point,which won t work in our society because it does not fit in.Saying that in our arab world, they tend to see a nude female body as a sex object, that could be true, but it only in the twisted mind of men. but you tend to forget that there are a lot of women who are against of using the naked body of a woman to send a message, especially when it s in the cover of a magasine. which means a product for sale.a product that usually brings a lot of money. women are not a product for sale whatever was the message.

  4. Lili says:

    Ooops! It seems that you got yourself into a little bit of trouble. I was wondering if you were male or female but now I know.
    Transcending cultureS and religionS, could the question we need to ask ourselves is: What makes a woman feel good about herself (as a human being)?

  5. Loula la nomade says:

    Hello, we tend to forget that the woman is bearing life, pregnant, I see a mom to be. I see life.

  6. Inspiration says:

    Slow down pleaaaase cabalamuse :)
    You are taking us from one topic to the other so fast that ideas get mixed up in our minds… we are going from hijab versus nakedness, to the western world vs the Eastern cultures; to uneducated women vs the educated ones and who should do what…
    I feel so much frustration and anger from your side at the way women are treated in the society; and how everybody is trying to play their protector and/or their guider on what they should do or should not. Believe me, as a woman, i should feel much anger than you, but i also have the right to speak up and say what i think a woman should do with her body. I have the right to refuse the burqua as much as i have the right to keep my body for me. I do not have to go to both extremes, as much as i do not want anybody to tell me which path to follow… Beside that and i guess before we help freeing the woman’s body from who tries to hide it and put it in a “3awra” frame, should not we first help this woman free her mind? Should not we teach the girls to first rise themselves up, and enrich their brains rather than all these encouragements of looking good, looking beautiful, looking slim or looking curved… We should free our brains first then we can tackle the body side.
    You might argue that part of freeing the woman mind is helping her to reconcile with her body, to love it and not be ashamed of it; also to try to convince the society to look at women as a human being, a beautiful one, rather than a sexual object; so be it, but in a society that has been indoctrinated for centuries by ideas that a woman is good to please her man first before pleasing herself, you can’t come and play the chocking game. Now we want to imitate the other societies who worked hard to give a better respect to women than our countries? Well let’s then copy how they implemented laws against sex offenders for instance, since you are talking about how ladies get so annoyed by chasers who look at them as a piece of meat only, even when they are covered up. Let’s “lobby” for that, for me it’s an emergency to start with on a short term level. Did you wonder why even a covered woman is not left in peace in our streets? Because the problem is much deeper than that; because it took centuries to put the woman where she is right now, because only strong laws would make those guys think twice before they abuse a woman in the street. This should go hand in hand with sensibilizing the public about how much respect we need to give the woman… Nadia as an anchorwoman could have used her career as a public figure known to people on TV to sensibilize more and stir in the debate, not playing the chocking game (i am still not convinced she did that to attract attention to pregnant women, but to please herself only or maybe she did not know any better).
    You know if we only leave women alone handle their lives and not indoctrinate them left and right; some want to cover them up from head to toe, while others want to take her cloths off.
    One important thing please, do not even get religion involved here, not every woman who defends some decency to be kept on this earth is wearing a hijab or niqab. There are still people who live by values even if they happen to be agnostic.

    Finally, your last paragraph, which summarizes what you have been trying to convey to your readers through this last two topics merits a profound discussion; but you need to understand still that the main point in most of the comments was about the real message behind Nadia’s photo.

  7. Pingback: Don't Blame Femmes Du Maroc « A Moroccan About the world around him | Headlines Today

  8. Ali says:

    You are desperately seeking a message where there is none, it is about time to get real man! Do you really believe we can resolve prostitution, paedophilia and other sexual related issues by this way? What’s next then? Maybe we should allow porn on national TV?

  9. bsili karim says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  10. Maroc says:

    Thanks for this article

  11. Pingback: 2010 in review | A Moroccan About the world around him

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s