Living abroad - Androcentrism in Morocco

Androcentrism in Morocco

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.

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I do appreciate the little things this cafe does for me, though. I have my own table, and they always draw hearts in the foam for me.
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26 thoughts on “Androcentrism in Morocco

  1. There is a fine line between cultural mores. A certain amount of “when in Rome” has to be considered along with the desire to foster change. I know you know all that so good luck with your quest. (Allow me to voice caution) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. There’s definitely a fine line. It’s difficult for me, but again, I’m doing it within reason. I think everyone here is confused by me, but I don’t believe I’m being obtrusive.

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  2. I dealt with this too, though it’s more pronounced in Morocco, especially since foreign women aren’t as much of a rarity there. I always found that withholding judgement and bringing in humor helped get my women’s-rights message across. Good luck–this will definitely be one of the biggest challenges! Where you are now is your stage village, right? You’ll be posted somewhere else? If you’re in the Atlas, check out Education for All. It’s run in part by the owners of a kasbah hotel that’s one of the Nat Geo Lodges. I did a (brief) write up about it awhile ago. Seems a good antidote to that fear of letting girls leave home. http://www.nationalgeographiclodges.com/lodges/africa/kasbah-du-toubkal/stories/#.WBbHLxTI7vA Be well Abbie!

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    1. Yes, Agourai is my training town. I’m actually going to Meknes right now to find out my permanent site! I have a site visit all week, which I think is new since your time in PC. I’m freaking out in the best and worst ways! I’ve actually heard of that organization, so I’ll read your story later today (when wifi is sufficient hahaha). 🙂

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  3. I agree with you mostly but being able to buy peanut butter isn´t a (strong) sign of development. Morocco is a beautiful country but it is not developed. It shouldn´t take 10 minutes for the police to get my passport checked. The school system there is hella messed up and the people on the countryside are poor as hell. The government should act like a government.

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