TOWARDS EQUALITY: In Morocco, Machi Rojola is synonymous with inclusive masculinity: The Asahi Shimbun

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A new Moroccan podcast sheds light on the harmful effects of some traditional ideals of male behavior. Its creators call on men to be part of the solution to achieve gender equality.

Toxic masculinity versus positive masculinity – or how to rethink masculinity in a patriarchal society like that of Morocco. This is the ambitious goal of the Machi Rojola podcast, launched by the Moroccan collective Elille in November 2020.

The aim is not to demonize men, according to its creators, but rather to highlight the harmful and socially destructive effects of certain traditional ideals of male behavior, such as violent domination, misogyny, self-reliance and competition. .

The collective was born in the midst of recent confinements, during a health and social crisis that has accentuated the vulnerability of women and minorities.

It brings together a dozen men and women eager to reconsider the place of men in our society, and also to offer a platform to minority groups (LGBT, elderly and disabled).

If its first action was the podcast, the collective now plans to launch an online platform in July, to promote both debate and academic and cultural content through podcasts, photography, videos and writing.

“While the exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19 expose and exacerbate the mechanisms of violence against women and minority groups, we consider that the situation predates the crisis”, explains Soufiane Hennani, co-founder of the collective and creator of the podcast series. “Different forms of violence are deeply rooted in our patriarchal societies. They are the result of the behavior of men, who are largely responsible for the situation. It seems important to us that they also become part of the solution.

The stated objective is to rally men through a constructive debate to advocate gender equality (if they do not already do so), by promoting new masculinities.

IS THE MAN OF TOMORROW A FEMINIST?

Machi Rojola is a popular expression meaning “it’s not masculine” in Moroccan Arabic, which implies that someone is “not a man”, often used to emphasize a lack of bravery, honor and strength – all attributes commonly associated with virility.

The platform’s objective is to “reclaim this expression and advocate a plural and inclusive masculinity, instead of an exclusive and toxic masculinity,” explains Hennani, in his thirties and recently graduated from a doctorate. in oncology and molecular biology.

“Biology is my area of ​​expertise, while my interest in human rights is my commitment as a citizen and humanist. It started when I was with Amnesty International and continued with Ellile, which can mean “night” in Arabic, but it’s mostly a contraction or play on words around the pronouns “she” and “him” ( in French), ”he explains.

Is masculinity necessarily toxic? How to improve the representation of women in the arts? Is the man of tomorrow a feminist? What place do masculinities hold in Islam? Can we free the word of men? What place can multiple sexual and gender identities have in our societies?

These are the kinds of questions that guests of the podcast answer, like writers Asma Lamrabet and Abdellah Taia, intersectional researcher Françoise Verges, actor Faycal Azizi, and director Hicham El Asry.

The interventions of each guest are punctuated by personal testimonies from concerned people and ordinary citizens.

60,000 FLOWS, AN ENTHUSIASTIC RESPONSE

The first season of the podcast, consisting of eight episodes lasting 45 minutes each, was broadcast on social media and audio streaming platforms such as Spotify, Anchor and Soundcloud. Essentially in Darija (Moroccan Arabic), the series has been shown nearly 60,000 times since its launch and has generated a lot of enthusiasm among young people.

“Supporting young people has been one of the most positive aspects of the project,” says Hennani.

In fact, the vast majority of courses are allocated to 18-35 year olds (over 80%). Regarding the breakdown by gender, 54% of the public identifies as female, 40% as male and 13% do not define themselves or define themselves as “non-binary”.

This bold and innovative initiative can take pride in creating a new debate on masculinities among young people, and even within families.

“The interventions of Fatna El Bouih (activist and former political prisoner) and Asma Lamrabet (essayist and Muslim feminist) really moved me and allowed my brother, my father and I to have interesting conversations about the prophet’s attitude towards women and each of our roles within the family, ”Hajar, 21, wrote on Machi Rojola’s Facebook page.

The project was widely covered and praised in national and international media.

He has appeared on several occasions on prime-time shows on Moroccan national television, some of which have reached 3 million viewers, as well as on major public and private radio stations and most print and online media. from the country.

At the international level, several media have also covered the story, but Hennani believes that what matters most are the multiple debates in high schools, colleges and universities to which he has been invited, in cities like Casablanca, Rabat or Tangier. , in addition to several online. webinars and conferences he attended.

“The concerns that arise are often the same, whether with the students of the Lycée Regnault in Tangier, the young former detainees of the Relais-Prison association in Casablanca, the students of the International University of Rabat or the Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. ,” he says.

In most young people, I have noticed a constant questioning with a desire for emancipation and a desire to redistribute the cards within conservative societies. Questions of equality between men and women, religion, diversity in public spaces and respect for traditions are approached with much more common sense than among their elders. It gives me hope, ”adds Hennani.

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This article is published as part of “Towards Equality”, an international and collaborative initiative bringing together 15 international media outlets to highlight the challenges and solutions to achieve gender equality. The Asahi Shimbun is participating in this campaign led by Sparknews.


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