The urban space

The urban space – I like to tame it. It is best done through wandering or cycling,  this gives a more human scale feel and a geographical perception than motorised transport.

The sounds, the scents, the architecture, the layout, the flow (or not)  are all part of the morphology of a city, a body in which we are the blood cells. It is a living entity with character, with various identities and vibes throughout it’s various pockets. It is also very reflective of a culture.

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Los Angeles
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Lantau
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Xian

In some places, the urban space is not equally  shared between genders.  Here I speak of my home land: Morocco. Patriarchal cultural codes make the street a place dominated by men. Men can leisurely hang in there and own it while women only cross it. They move from one place to another but do not stroll. Quite understandably – if it means walking under the music of sexist remarks, seedy “compliments”, whistles, giving this feeling of being preyed at and a potential sexual object/target. «The city belongs to men! » says the geographer Yves Ribaud.

When I arrive here, it always takes me a few weeks to adapt – at first it feels as if I am thrown on a field of cactus.

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Rabat Medina

In some places, the urban space is not equally  shared between genders.  Here I speak of my home land: Morocco. Patriarchal cultural codes make the street a place dominated by men. Men can leisurely hang in there and own it while women only cross it. They move from one place to another but do not stroll. Quite understandably – if it means walking under the music of sexist remarks, seedy “compliments”, whistles, giving this feeling of being preyed at and a potential sexual object/target. «The city belongs to men! » says the geographer Yves Ribaud.

When I arrive here, it always takes me a few weeks to adapt – at first it feels as if I am thrown on a field of cactus.

 

Recently while conversing with a woman of Moroccan origin living in Amsterdam, I  spoke about my irritation of not being able to just stroll “alone” without having someone whistle or whisper something in my ears while passing next to me: “this doesnt happen to me – it must be the way you walk and carry yourself” . This type of remark isn’t uncommon. It  is precisely this kind of infuriating comment that prevents the society from moving on: as I was told one day – ( it is unlikely Moroccan specific, but definitely a “cultural”trait of character here ) : what is inconvenient doesnt exist. And if it has been acknowledged, there seem to be a great deal of “complacency”. Or is it being unable to know how to deal with the problem, having the guts to stand up and be alone?

I refuse to “adapt”to this – bow down, I remain stubbornly proud and do my thing quietly but firmly.  I have the luxury to leave . Some don’t.

 

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Rabat

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “The urban space

  1. Really good work Malika, those photo’s have got to be some of your best ever! The report of life on the streets in Moroccan for women is very sad. Do you think it has always been like that? I mean back in the 1960s & 70s do you think the men at that time were behaving the same way towards women as they do now?

    My feeling is I don’t think so, there were a lot of Californian hippies as well as those from allover Europe living in Morocco at that time (as a teenager I was one of them).

    I interacted a lot with Moroccan teenagers of my own age, got very stoned with them and they introduced me to Moroccan music. What happened to “Make Love not War”

    Live and Let live…. Total Equality for Women & Men (gay or straight), of whatever ethnic origin (or mixed) come on humans get it together! That’s my opinion. Doubtless there’s a whole bunch who disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Trev,
      Hmm i cant relate to the 70’s but it’s a little more subtle than that.
      There is really a problem here between men and women, and the mutual respect. Not everyone falls into this pathology but in the realm of public space it is very noticeable .
      Also ” tourists ” may not hear or be aware of everything – there is a blissful blindness / deafness when we go places we dont understand the language ….
      In the mountains where i roamed – and you went to Imlil, it has also become different – tourism has brought good and bad – as tourist or western looking like myself become a walking wallet or passport.
      This is the extreme side, of course there are very nice genuine hospitable people., and I met quite a few. Here I am really speaking of something very specific – and I often wonder what would be the answer if I went around the country asking what does Love mean – and to men what does being a man mean and to women what does being a woman mean to you.
      I see you in a couple of weeks in London 🙂

      Like

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