Street Harassment

Street harassment story:

Street harassment in Morocco is one of the hardest things to get used to. At all times of the day I will have boys and men calling out to me, trying to get my attention. Sometimes (during the day) it is fairly civil, more of a way of acknowledging a young woman as she passes by. During the night, however, it can turn really rather nasty. This is a story of how I coped with some of the more unpleasant night-time cat calls.

To begin, I will let you in on an established fact: I really enjoy laughing. Unfortunately, my laugh is rather loud and precocious. Any current or ex housemate of mine can tell you just how loud that laugh really is. So when I am trying to be, ah, polite, or moderately sociable, I try to keep it under wraps. This is much more impossible than it sounds.

Anyways, back to harassment. If you are a girl, and you are walking the street in Morocco, especially just after dark, you get a lot, I mean A LOT of harassment. “hey babe, I want to *u** you all night long” “I see you and I love you” “your body is so hot, my tongue will burn!” etc etc. American (read: non-Moroccan) girls attract a tamer kind of cat-call (in my experience). I would say this is simply due to first the language barrier, but also to the novelty and otherness of being a foreigner. To contrast, my host sister is tall, beautiful, and well formed. All of which translates to her being targeted constantly for some of the most obnoxious harassment. And a young woman can’t really tell them no or to knock it off, as any sort of reaction is seen as encouragement. So we just have to ignore it, and most of the time, its fine. If you act as though the boys/men do not exist, then they will leave you alone, as clearly you aren’t interested.

To bring this back around to my own personal experience, usually they try to talk to me in French. Now I honestly only know about four words of French (maybe five, I have accidently been learning more since being here). However, they sometimes try English, and man o man. Broken English pick-up lines are some of the hardest lines I will ever have to pretend I haven’t heard. Too funny!

And now my story.

The other night about a week a go, I was walking in the suk (street/market) with my sister, and we had a group of about four boys following about three paces behind us, calling out all kinds of obscenities and cat calls, sometimes throwing out a few English or French phrases, just to get our attention or provoke some kind of reaction. One of the boys, poor kid, he came up to my ear and whispered “I make love you?”

It was just so funny that I couldn’t keep a strait face and I started to giggle, which is the last thing you want if you want them to leave you alone. But then the giggle turned into laughter, and then that laugh of mine just sort of exploded out of me, and my knees buckled and I crumpled in the middle of the suk laughing so hard I could hardly manage breathing. All of the shop-keepers and shoppers were looking right at me, my sister, and the four boys who had been following us. And of course, Wafaa (my sister) couldn’t help but laugh because the situation was just far to ridiculous.  All of the boys were suddenly extremely uncomfortable because, of course, everyone was looking at them to know what they had done to me. And it was clear that I was laughing AT them, which completely emasculated all of their actions up to that point.

Wafaa later told me (while grinning from ear to ear) that one boy had said “see what you get when you try to go after Americans? You really want to bother with a girl who would laugh at you? leave them alone, you don’t want that”. Which was true, for the next 20 minutes, all down that street, Wafaa and I faced an enjoyable, harassment free evening. Story end.

(ps, for my family and friends: I am going to Spain this week with school. I will have lots of pictures and stories for my return, I am certain. However, this also means that for the next week I will not have internet. Don’t panic if I don’t respond. I just…won’t respond. Ha hahaha. Love you all!)

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