Monday, June 12, 2006

Pot, Kettle. Kettle, Pot.

Back in 70's, my father stuck a bright red poster up on our fridge for my mother in honour of the International Year of Women (1975). That poster stayed there for quite some time, only to be replaced by a Hang in There Baby poster; it was less politically charged but pleased our Siamese cat a great deal. My mother was a pretty cool role model for my girlfriends and me: she was a working mother who juggled her many roles every day, somehow managing to keep all of her balls in the air. She also successfully brought a sexual discrimination complaint against her employers and after she won, she told them to sod off and she left for greener pastures. It was the closest I came to having Mary Tyler Moore as a mother.

So, some 30 years later, it aggrieves me to come across this article in the Morocco Times. Yes, I know that polls mean nothing - that pollsters can pretty much obtain any result they want, but even if the results are inaccurate, this publication of this survey lends it legitimacy. Among 8,000 Muslim women who were surveyed from the Middle East

The majority ... including Moroccans, regard western culture as morally corrupt and obsessed with sex and drugs.

Yikes! Among their complaints is the way women are treated in the west and (they) dislike the sexual "promiscuity, pornography and public indecency." I find this statement particularly curious since I have only experienced sexual harrassment while travelling through Islamic countries. Of course, any unwanted attention I receive is my fault because my culture and I invite it. I first came in contact with such harrassment to lesser degree in Egypt & Sudan - but deal with it daily in Morocco. This in spite of the fact that if I wanted to dress any more conservatively, I'd be wearing a kaftan & headscarf. Truth be told, when I read that Muslim women resent "the disrespect of women by men" in the West, I want to spit. Spit long and hard. It seems to me that the tarring of western values as immoral is just as dangerous, obscene and unjust as painting Islam as violent and oppressive, as portraying Muslim women as victims.

So what are these women concerned with?

Inequality between sexes did not seem to be among their worries. Only 2% of women in Egypt and Morocco said it was a problem. Their main concerns were, according to the poll, the right to vote, work outside the home and hold high ranking government positions.

Personally, I cannot imagine a world in which the right to vote and work is not predicated on equality with bearers of the y-chromosome. In my facile little worldview, I thought they went hand in hand, otherwise, all we're doing in the workplace is making coffee and ordering flowers for the wife and/or mistress. The women surveyed admired their society's adherence to Islamic values, pointing out that ‘Sharia' (Islamic law) should be the source of political legislation. Wow, can't wait to see honour killing codified.

If advances in the rights of women are to be developed and ratified within the context of Sharia, then Muslim feminists have their work cut out for them. I wish them all the luck in the world. In the meantime, perhaps our respective pots & kettles can keep their comments to themselves.


Blogger knarf said...

Mom also commuted to work by bike in the early 70's, remember? When we lived on Kenneth and she worked downtown (was it at Joy when their office was at King and Frederick?) she rode her bike to work daily.

How awesome was that (for the time)?

As for the rest of your blog, your hyperlink to the story doesn't seem to work for me, but I get the jist.

I suppose that (1) the whole thing is propaganda anyway, (2) whatever perception Moroccan women have of the west is distorted through the lens of mass media and very likely inaccurate, (3) subjegated as they are to their hubbies in particular and men in general they may be reluctant speak their mind, or to put it another way, they know what the "party line" is, and they don't want to be seen to vary from it.

All that being said, yes, you're right, there does seem to be an air of hypocrisy in the poll results. Not hypocrisy of Moroccan women, but society in general. Rather than worrying about what we in The West are (or aren't) doing, perhaps they should clean up their own act.

I think I'll go spark up a doob about now (being obsessed with drugs and all)...

3:49 p.m.  
Blogger ByronB said...

Ah, that's be this article, then :P
So, they took a thousand women from each of 8 countries of varying degrees of Islamicity, stirred it all up in a pot and came out with these rather simplistic results.
I wonder how their opinions are formed - American tv probably doesn't do itself any favours, and I would hate to think that British standards are judged by the likes of Big Brother House behaviour.

8:29 a.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I'm trying to update the link but it's not taking. Blogspot is a bit cantakerous today, so thanks for the link Byron. Can we add music videos to the usual suspects which misrepresent western culture. I for one never gyrate my crotch in any homie's face.

And Knarf ... totally forgot about Mom biking to work. I msut tell her how amazing I think she is. I guess I shouldn't wait until Mother's Day.

5:19 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

When you think of it:

Mom and Dad were the most amazing role models ever.

So how'd we both end up so fucked up?


5:41 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

*sigh* ~ so true!

8:34 p.m.  

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