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A light subject
14 September 2006 09:21
Hi everyone,

Here's a light subject for a change, it's an essay from a moroccan newspaper about personal responsability in our society. It deals in broad terms with the weight of traditions, our mothers way of spoiling us until we're no longer capable of fending for ourselves...etc.

Read it first then continue what's next.


In reading it, I realized that we, boys, are indeed spoilt by our mothers, as a kid we're not taught to pick up anything in the house, I never had to clean up my room for instance, never once cooked anything. So much so, that when I had my first apartment, I didn't know how to make an omelet, I knew I had to throw eggs in a frying pan, but it didn't occur to me that I needed to butter it first or put salt or pepper, add to that the soussi mentality : "anoual is not for men" my father used to remark as we were always following my mother to the kitchen like cubs...I know I'm caricaturing a little bit, but this is what an average moroccan is like when he first leaves the nest. We're mama's boys.
I've spoken to some of my cousins, friends, 2 out of 3 told me the same thing.

Now to personal responsability : there's a example of a man named Abdelkader in the article, the author makes an emphasis on the fact that Abdelkader does not take responsability of his actions or his situation. It's all Allah's will, what is going to happen is going to happen, el mektoub.
I heard this a million times, a fatalistic view of life, there's nothing you can do, if Allah wants you to succeed then the path will be shown to you. In the meantime, I've seen young men sit on their hands and wait for things to happen, I can think of at least two cases in my own family (in the broad sense) back home.

When I see how european or north american are brought up to earn everything they have, for instance they wash their father's car for an extra on their allowance, having student jobs early on, still in high schools...etc.

Anyway, that's my view and experience. What's yours, boys AND girls (you're not getting off that easy ! mothers don't seem to be doing a great with you either according to the article)
14 September 2006 13:05
the essay project the situation of rich people. I widely agree with you that they have no responsabilities. They feel higer ...

but what about poor families. what about road's boys ?
14 September 2006 15:02
Hi almo3tassim,

In the middle class or poor families back home, I've also noticed that boys don't clean the table after a meal or do the dishes, it's left for girls. Same thing for where they would sleep, since they didn't have their own room, they didn't fold their blanket.
The last generation grown in Europe tend to have changed and taken a more western approach. Kids are taught to clean up their room, they have summer jobs...etc

In Morocco, of course summer jobs would be difficult given the situation but I've seen sometimes boys being placed with a m3alem to learn a craft but it usually ended up with a full time job and no studies.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/14/2006 04:24 by chelhman.
15 September 2006 21:52
hi everyone,

please allow me to take part in this interesting debate. chelhman (thanks to you for bringing this up), seems to think that the phenomenon of deresponsibilisation and "spoonfeeding" of boys by their mother is less of a problem among the generation of moroccans raised in western countries. unfortunately, he (chelhman) would be amazed to know that it's just as common over here as it is in morocco. having been raised in france, i think i can tell you a few stories to illustrate that: i grew up in a family made up of 7 girls and 1 boy; our brother being older than all of us girls, it never occurred to us to question his authority, and boy, did he take advantage of it! not only were we expected to serve him, cook for him, clean up his room for him, iron his clothes etc.... we would also pay for whichever mistake he would make, by having our dad taking his anger at our brother's foolishness out on us.and if we so much as protested that it was unfair, we'd see both our parents retort that we should be grateful to god for having given us a brother, else we'd be lost, and without anyone to look after us (the fact that it was us looking after him didn't seem to register) and to protect us. protect us from what? "from whichever danger that a house full of girls may harbour", my mum would say. though i was too young to understand back then, i'm now kind of starting to understand the logic behind my parents' attitude towards my brother: in our culture, boys are seen as angels sent down to us by god to protect families by safeguarding their honour and ensuring that traditions are respected: they will keep a close eye on their sisters and make sure they never go off the rails (no need to specify what i mean by that), and will naturally replace the father if he happens to die before all the girls are married and therefore under the protection of yet another man (their husband). according to this logic,a boy-free house can only be ruled by sibba (anarchy). therefore, over -spoiling boys is a way for our parents to show their gratitude to them for the mere fact of being there, as potential guardians of our honour, without which we'd have no place in the community.don't think i'm being partial, though: there is definitely a similar phenomenon involving girls, though to a lesser extent; jamila's story, featured in the article, is only one example of that. however, the reasons behind the spoiling of girls are, i think. different to those justifying that of boys: as i've explained earlier, boys are being spoilt because they're seen as an extension of the father figure, providing protection in the broadest sense. girls, however, seem to enjoy a different status: that of "amana", meaning that they're meant to be at home on a temporary basis only, up until the day that someone marries them and takes them makes sense, therefore, to treat them well as they will eventually leave.
15 September 2006 22:52
Hi khadijaox81,

I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right, there's this thing where the boys are supposed to look after the family's honour. Well, it probably made sense a few centuries ago but these days it's ridiculous because it implies that if left alone a girl will automaticaly err.
I have a close scenario in my first cousins in Casablanca, 5 girls and 1 boy, the boy of course being the last. Being considered, as you said, a gift from Heaven, the boy was spoilt, protected. The result were catastrophic, he never finished school, the father set up a store for him which he ran into the ground within a year, set up another : same result. He set up another but this time managed by a professional, my cousin just sits there doing nothing and collecting at the end of the day.

But the mother is at fault here, she never let the father punish him in any way, he spoke once of sending him to a military academy to straighten him out, she opposed it, and everyone knows how much power women wield in our societies whatever the appearances may be.

You were right, your story puzzled me because I thought that living in Europe or North America, this kind of thing was next to impossible given the environement.
Anyway thanks for your comments.
16 September 2006 00:54
hi chelhman
i'm happy to have contributed to the debate somehow. i'm not surprised that you assumed that things were different in europe, as a lot of people assume that having grown up there, our parents' traditions don't affect our behaviour.sadly,they're wrong. actually, our parents brought their culture over with them, strongly clung to it and passed it on to us as a way of giving us some sense of cultural identity. this is understandable, though it does have some devastating effects on the majority of us, being a pattern of thought which proves extremely difficult to break. actually, always with the purpose of keeping the debate going,i'll just offer what i think is another reason behind the phenomenon that we're talking about: the pedestal on which moroccan society puts women who have boys. have you noticed how moroccan women never feel completely fulfilled unless they give birth to at least one boy? though this tends to change, it was still the case not so long ago. i've witnessed the despair of one of my aunts, who struggled to have a boy, and ended up adopting one when, after 6 unsuccessful attempts at having one, her husband threatened to take a second wife in the hope that she would finally give him the son that he was desperate to have. giving birth to a boy seems to be a tremendous achievement, one that has no match as it keeps the family name alive for at least one more generation. therefore, women feel like they owe something to their son: he's the guarantee, if there can be one, that they won't have to go through the humiliation of seeing their husband marrying another woman who will try to succeed where they have failed. by giving a male heir, they make their marriage worthwhile. it's a bit like passing a major test, except that what is at stake here is their status as wives, and therefore as successful women. how can they, then, not express a life-long gratitude to that son who's allowed them to enjoy that status? i hope this will make some sense. i'm sorry that i've got no sources to back this up, but in the light of what i've seen and heard, i think it's definitely an element to take into account to try and explain that social abnormality which will hopefully soon belong to the past (i live in hope!). take care.
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