Thursday, November 30, 2006

On Tel-Quel: "Blad Schitzo"

The concept of language as a reflection brings us to a slippery slope. One could argue that people themselves are also only reflecting what is external to them (the identity of a person will always be found en route towards other people, or in the difference between who the person “is” and who he or she “is not”), in which case there is no stable identity to identify, unless identity can be defined as “how we represent ourselves to ourselves,” in which case, I don’t see how any woman, or any man, could be “lost,” or in a state of “disarray,” as Moroccan women have been described. I think that there has been a lot of projecting of this idea onto Arab women from the west and in academia, of her being torn between two worlds (past/present, tradition/modernity, etc). And the result is that women second-guess how they view themselves, and regardless of where a “truthful” identity is actually located, I think this is something that women need to resolve for themselves individually. To be caught, culturally and religiously, between various extremes, can in some cases be described as disarray, but it does not necessarily mean that the confusion usurps the possibility of retaining an identity, any more than everyday conflict in people’s lives threaten their sense of possessing a unified self-awareness. More than anything, I think I am trying to avoid categorizing Arab women, in their particular circumstance(s), to be vastly different from anyone in any situation, attempting to pin down who they really are. A Moroccan woman might feel confused about her changing environment, or may have been raised traditionally and be gradually shifting towards a more modern lifestyle, and that does not make her a floating transparency until she chooses a side and we can confidently categorize her as either a fundamentalist or a liberated woman- there is a legitimate grey area where she can be found, and where her identity is also located. Confusion and contradiction among a group of people are not enough to warrant addressing them as "in dissaray," as though they have yet to be formed as human beings - the culture is in transition, and is likely to stay that way for a while, and the women living in Morocco during these times do have a unique sense of identity based on the collision of various influences around them. And if it is argued that this is, at most, an unstable identity, then we are indebted to allow ourselves to be unsure for a moment, and to acknowledge that any concept of a unified self is always going to be counterfeit.