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Dreams of Trespass: Women’s expression

2djinn03In this novel, we are provided with many different views of the women in the novel.  Ranging from Mernissi herself to her mother to Yasmina.  We are offered a variety of outlooks concerning women’s expression and how the Moroccan way of life has ultimately shaped the way women express themselves.  Women were restrained in ways that men were not.  Women had one job: to keep the household in order.  This included: cooking, cleaning, and any other domestic duties that women perform.

It is really hard to live life without some sort of creative outlet.  It is extremely important to have something to look forward to and something to do that we actually enjoy.  When there is nothing to look forward to, life becomes dull and very disheartening.  This is something that Moroccan women, and women from all over the world, have to face.  Fortunately, some women find ways to deal with this structured lifestyle.  In the novel, we are given many examples of how women express themselves.

For instance, we are presented with Fatima Mernissi.  Even though she is just a little girl throughout the novel, she is still restricted in what she can and can’t do.  She quickly learns that there are boundaries which she can not cross.  Although Mernissi didn’t live a life full of domestic duties because she was still a child, she realized that she would have to develop some sort of creative outlet in order to feel fulfilled in some way.  As she was restricted from playing with her older cousins, her mother reminded her that some kinds of play “represented war”.  Mernissi states, “I was afraid of war, so I would put my little cushion down on our threshold, and play l-msaria b-lglass (literally, “The Seated Promenade”), a game I invented then and still find quite useful today,” (Mernissi 4).  Starting from a young age, Mernissi finds something that she enjoys and finds useful to her development as a person.

Another example is Aunt Habiba, Fatima’s aunt who’s husband had taken everything from their marriage in order to use it against her had he wished to do so.  A woman who was alone and broken; a woman left with nothing but memories.  Aunt Habiba certainly had to contribute to the household as well as all the other women.  Her creative outlet was story telling and making things magical.  As Mernissi recalls those nights where all the children in the harem would climb the many steps up to Aunt Habiba’s room, she speaks of Aunt Habiba’s creative outlet that inspired her.  Mernissi states, “She knew how to talk at night.  With words alone, she could put us onto a large ship sailing from Aden to the Maldives, or take us to an island where the birds spoke like human beings,” (Mernissi 19).  She then later says, “Her tales made me long to become an adult and an expert storyteller myself.  I wanted to learn how to talk in the night,” (Mernissi 19).  Women did other things to express themselves like embroidery or singing or indulging in things like the Cairo radio which was not permitted by the head of the household.  Readers get a chance to see just how important having a creative outlet is.  Mernissi brings us into her own personal space to show us this.

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