A Re-evaluation of Feminism


Kalin Atkinson

Gender in the Marketplace: A Reevaluation of Feminism

As we walked through the market in Marrakesh, a hijabi woman sped beside us on a baby-blue motor bike, her scarf rippling from the breeze and her speed fast and steady. There were about twelves of us from our American study abroad group, but although we were aware that the market is not a dangerous space, the men shouting out from the market stands and the masses of people navigating though the tight space of the market was already overwhelming. Shiny, espresso colored dates were piled high and vibrant rugs with every color under the sun hung from walls and clotheslines. The shop owners call out trying to catch the attention of the busy people passing by, and if your appearance gives you away as a tourist then you instantly become the target audience.  The energy is not aggressive, but it is abrasive; the shouts from the shop keepers and the sights of the vibrant and unfamiliar goods will grab your attention and pull it in all directions.

There was a feeling of vulnerability that creeped in when all of our senses were overwhelmed, but when that Moroccan woman sped by on her motor bike, she seemed to have an invisible shield around her. This seemed to be a pattern with the other Moroccan women that filled the markets.  They pushed through the crowded as comfortably as if they were walking the floors of their home. A determined glean lit up the eyes of the women keenly haggling down the price of jellabas, spices, and more with the shop keepers, the majority of whom were male. A strong push-for-a-push dynamic seemed to be happening, with a mutual understanding that this was a woman’s game just as much as a man. You can be sure that the deep purple, blossom patterned scarf that we later saw that hijabi bike rider buy would be nearly half the price it first was.

Feminism is not something that most people would associate with Morocco or Islam, but in that determined look that lit up the eyes of the women in the market I saw a new concept of feminism. Their motor bikes lined the dirt streets with tire marks, they walked alone with their heads high and without the safety blanket of smart phones or headphones, and they were quick-witted and not afraid to show it. This is not to say that on a larger scale there is not more work to be done on reaching legal and social equality for women in Morocco, but these tire marks and determined stares tell a story of grit and independence that deserves to be recognized.


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