By Nakeisha Brownlee
Spending a week in Morocco has allowed me to witness gender roles at its best. Growing up, my parents taught me that I could be and do whatever my heart desired, but for some reason I feel like the parents in this country have a different outlook. I decided to do a little bit of research on the Moroccan culture and how it plays a role in the professions women in this culture pursue.
Hassan II Mosque
Before I get into my findings, let’s talk about what I have learned from just being here. It is a known fact that Morocco is a predominately Muslim country and this plays a major role in decisions made for the country. Islam has very separate roles for men and women. I had the opportunity to tour the Hassan II Mosque – the third largest mosque in the world. It was a beautiful building, adorned with chandlers, huge windows for natural lighting, pillars with detailed carvings ~ a must see in Casablanca, maybe an “only see”. Here I learned a lot about Morocco and its Arabic influences. In the Mosque, men and women pray separately, wash separately and they even enter through a separate door.
Inside the Mosque
From what I gathered from our tour guide and my online research, Morocco’s culture is strongly dominated by men and Islam plays a major role in the personal, political and economical lives of those who practice this faith; which is ultimately guided by the teachings of the Quran. But again, it seems like the culture is divided. Traditionally the role of the women in this culture is seen as, “delicate”, which loosely explains what the tour guide described as men’s over-conservatism and excessive jealousy when it comes to their women. Contrary to American media, women do not feel confined or restricted, they enjoy being taken care of and their needs are totally satisfied.
The city of Casablanca seems to be torn between two generations: traditionalist and modernist. Bustling with activity, the streets are crowded with women tugging along small children while the men walked with their hands behind their backs. Most of the women, traditionalists, had their hair hidden beneath brightly colored scarves and wore loose clothing covering their ankles with their wrists adorned by gold and silver bangles. The other women took a more modern approach to fashion, mimicking the trends of western cultures and shying away from traditional garb. In this culture, wearing a hijab, a veil or scarf that covers the head and chest is a public declaration of the strength of a woman’s religious conviction; other cultures may see it as a sign of submission or inferiority, which I have learned is not the case.
As time progresses, so does the idea of the modern Moroccan Women. I was wrong to assume the role the majority of women played, was only that of a server to others; today women are slowly gaining more power and taking on similar roles as their male counterparts. So how do these two worlds affect the practice of public relations and will the gap between men and women ever be completely bridged with this “new-aged” women on the rise.
With only a few recognizable pr firms in Morocco, it seems their definition of public relations is aligned with how it is defined in most western cultures. However, the question remains, who dominates this profession, men or women? I do not think I want to stay around long enough to find out. I already feel like I stand out like a sore thumb, so bringing my talents to Morocco during their transition to a more modern society may not be wise. Although I consider myself a modern girl, I would prefer to read about the transition as oppose to being apart of it. But you never know…
Until next time…