Androcentrism (Ancient Greek, ἀνήρ, “man, male”) is the practice, conscious or otherwise, of placing male human beings or a masculine point of view at the centre of one’s world view, culture, and history.
Agourai, the place where I live, is a beautiful, charming town on the outskirts of Meknes. It’s a place where one can find donkeys, and cats, and tractors, oh my. However, living here isn’t always easy. Morocco is ultimately a man’s country; they dominate the home and the streets. Women avoid going out at night due to an innate fear of harassment, and parents often forbid their daughters from attending local youth centers for this very reason. Women rarely walk alone because they might be perceived as prostitutes, and when they do, they tend to look down.
As a feminist, I delicately attempt to challenge these gender stereotypes. I shove headphones in my ears to ignore whistles and unwanted attention; I look up rather than down. I come to this cafe (see photo above), a notable male domain, to do my work. People walk by and stare, but I refuse to flinch. I want the girls in my community to understand that even though womanhood is a challenge in a male-centric society, we can, have, and will overcome.
People back home always ask if I’m “on vacation, or in the Peace Corps,” and I must say, this is no vacation. This country is developed as hell (I bought peanut butter in Fez last weekend.), but staunch gender roles make my experience just as challenging as that of a Peace Corps trainee or volunteer in a more stereotypical Peace Corps country.