Walking through the Medina, the old city of Marrakech is variously fascinating, aromatic and daunting. Probably not daunting if you’re male, but as a female I feel intimidated and scorned. It’s a subtle sense of being looked at with disdain, it’s the occasional sly grope or touch – the sense you are fair game. I wear conservative clothes, covering all flesh bar my face, I walk with confidence with a male companion and I’m open and friendly. Yet there is still a feeling of not being welcome, of being somehow “less”.
Last time I visited the city was during Ramadan and I put the irritability and general discourtesy down to lack of sustenance; who wouldn’t feel a bit “off” if you’re fasting in the hours of daylight … yet this time it’s no better. There’s a worsening of the attitudes of many men toward women and in some cultures, toward Western women in particular. With our freedom and the gall to walk about uncovered like a man, we represent a threat … ?
Women throughout the world still struggle to be seen as the equal of their menfolk, their husbands, sons and cousins. The situation seems to be getting worse not better and we must not allow this to happen. Witness the harassment women suffer daily in Egypt, the rapes occurring with horrifying frequency in India or the causal barrage of abuse suffered by Rebecca Meredith in a recent debate in Glasgow – just a few examples.
I read that many younger women apparently eschew the term Feminism … WHY?! To be feminist is to stand up for a fundamental right – the right of women to be treated equally. That’s all. You don’t need to adopt the cliched personas of the past (although let us not forget what the women of previous generations have done to give women like us opportunities: they were trampled under horses, fought long and hard for our rights over many years, stood up to society and much, much more … be grateful – not sneering, please.)
Being feminist is simple – there’s no need to be anything other than who you are. We don’t need to emasculate men, we can wear high heels and lipstick (if we want!), we have the freedom to work and compete or to stay at home and nurture a family … we can CHOOSE!! … at least we can in my country – at the moment. Let’s make sure it stays that way and where possible, support other women who need our help.
I’m proud to call myself a feminist, it doesn’t even need a capital letter – it’s who I am.