Podcaster on Morocco’s patriarchy: “Young queers were trapped”

Podcaster on Morocco’s patriarchy: “Young queers were trapped”

Activist Soufiane Hennani explains how Moroccans deal with anti-feminism. In his podcast “Machi Rojola” he talks about queerness.

Protesters hold up signs

Protest after the suicide of a 16-year-old who had to marry her rapist Photo: Youssef Boudlal/Reuters

taz: Soufiane Hennani, in yours Podcast “Machi Rojola” talk to your guests about feminism, net activism and how to overcome patriarchy in Morocco. Are such talks new in your country?

Why are we dealing with anti-feminism in a dossier? Already in many songs is sung about: “Know your enemy”. Antifeminism is often subtle. How we can unmask it becomes clear when we deal with it: What forms does it take? Who are the actors? And how can we meet him? All dossier texts are available in the Online focus on feminist struggle day.

Soufiane Hennani: I think that in Morocco we have always spoken critically about masculinity. After all, it shapes the everyday life of many people, women and men. It’s about mental, physical and sexual health, but also about the socialization of men, how they interact with each other and in society in general. There were many researchers and writers before me who dealt with feminism. The difference now might be that the content reaches a broad audience that can have a say. Whether in my podcast, in music, in the cinema, in traditional or social media.

Feminist ideas are now reaching more people. Does this also generate anti-feminist resistance online?

researches at the university in Casablanca in the field of health sciences. He is an LGBTQI+ activist. His political interests are queer identities and masculinity. In his Podcast “Machi Rojola” he talks about feminism in Morocco.

On Facebook, I often get messages telling me to run paid advertising for my content, while hateful, anti-feminist platforms grow organically and bring profits to tech companies with reach. People’s media skills would have to be expanded. They see the content of an anti-queer or anti-feminist influencer and believe the nonsense. Unfortunately, a lot has spilled over to us from the USA and Europe, so some people in Morocco are taking hate speech strategies as an example.

Can you give us an example?

Someone simply copied an incel’s US podcast and found a hateful audience in Morocco. Or: There has recently been a group online called “If you are a real man, you must not marry a woman who goes to work”. Incels and masculinists come together, let off misogyny and queer hostility and argue primarily with “freedom”. You have such dangerous tendencies in Europe and Germany.

How strong is the feminist discourse in Morocco?

It mainly reaches young people. Both as senders and receivers. There are urgent topics in there: racism in Morocco, the climate catastrophe and feminist struggles. Such debates have long since freed themselves from elitist spaces and reach all sections of the population equally. As we did during the pandemic collectively had to go into the hard lockdown, there was a lot of hate and violence against LGBTQI+ and feminists. Some young queers were suddenly trapped in their parents’ homes. I have addressed this on my podcast Machi Rojola and on social media. This was so accessible and helpful for many of those affected. They were at least able to exchange information online and strengthen one another.

Many white feminists here in Germany and Europe are particularly interested in the issue of masculinity in North Africa. Does that resonate with you?

What’s super nice and inspiring about Morocco is that we have our own feminist tradition, which has always been intersectional. We get a few shreds of this white mainstream feminism, which usually has a negative impact on our everyday lives. For example this one deep-seated transphobia. We have a rich feminist tradition, with voices like the sociologist Fatima Mernisi or the writer Malika al-Fassi showing us that feminism has an influential Moroccan tradition. These women have fought for self-determination, physical and political. That women can choose, can divorce, a wear a headscarf or not. I build on this in my work in the podcast or on social media and that touches many people – queers, women and men, so that they in turn get involved.

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