The parallel fight - Echoes of resistance

The parallel fight - Echoes of resistance

By Rajaa Essaghyry 

In Morocco, there is a common popular expression “Lmra Hachak” that can be translated to “woman, with all due respect”. My first reflex was to look at the definitions of the expression “with all due respect” that are suggested by Google. The first one I found is: “If someone prefaces a sentence by saying “with all due respect”, it’s a sign that they are likely to unleash something negative or critical, and sometimes quite vulgar and highly disrespectful[1]. You would probably tell me: Why do we even have to add this sentence after pronouncing the word “woman”?”. Technically, according to some kind of archaic traditions, being a woman is an “insult” or an “aberration”, thus requiring adding this expression so as not to “offend” anyone. It seems that some people in our culture consider that quoting the word woman in an assembly or simply in a conversation would be “vulgar” or disrespectful.

This expression is among many others which reflect the retrograde vision reserved for women in patriarchal societies, notably in Morocco; A series of violent expressions, which are still used today. This is why we are observing the everyday language, in order to identify and re-appropriate certain terms, to finally eradicate several expressions which undermine the dignity of women.

Photo Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

In the CUSP N+ project (Culture for Inclusive and Sustainable Peace Network Plus), Racines’s team chose to work on the issue of insidious violence against women. We consider that public and private spaces are zones of conflict for women and girls. Nowadays, and more than ever, pointing out the insidious violence against women in Morocco is becoming an absolute necessity. Our work consists in deconstructing the heteronormative discourse, along with the socio-political constructs of femininity and masculinity. We want to expose the different strategies used by patriarchal societies to not only prepare young girls to be dominated, but also to normalize and legitimize gender-based violence. It is simply a matter of exhibiting all the mechanisms put in place in order to hinder women’s emancipation.

Through the CUSP project we are trying to demonstrate that one of the main solutions to have social stability in a country is through guaranteeing equal opportunities and democracy, built by emancipated citizens who are capable of claiming their rights. This cannot be achieved as long as half of the society (women) are deprived of their rights and treated as second class citizens, through discriminatory laws and archaic traditions.

Through a research-action approach, we collected several life stories and testimonies from Moroccan women. Each story denounced different types of insidious violence suffered by women. Each story showed the actions taken by women to overthrow the patriarchal system and its foundations. Each story illustrated women’s resistance and resilience in the face of violence.

Muriel Rukeyser once said: “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”. Speaking out, testifying and sharing with the world are in themselves actions of resistance. Freeing the voices is a fundamental step to fight against silence, alienation and violence. Deconstructing the patriarchal system consists in constructing its puzzle, concept by concept, violence by violence, testimony by testimony… don’t we say that knowing your enemy is the key to better fight it? In this case, our common enemy is patriarchy.

By working in the most remote regions of Morocco, we immediately realized that feminism, as opposed to the common beliefs, is not an invention of the West. This latter is perceived to generate subversion.
The feminist fight is happening inside every Moroccan home, every workplace, in public spaces, on social media, … It is everywhere and it is local.

Women are resisting the status quo and historical roles set up by the patriarchy. Their fight can be anarchist, radical, soft, insidious, violent or peaceful. But their fight is omnipresent, and it would simply be a delusion to ignore it. Recognizing this reality is in itself a celebration of women and their fight. Women are rising up and celebrating their daily small victories and battles against the patriarchy.

I would like to end this text with a quote from the American feminist Gloria Steinem that I find very relevant and sums up very well what we should do, each on our own, to further advance the cause and end once and for all with patriarchy: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”[2]


[1] Definition suggested by Google of the expression “with all due respect”, (consulted on March 01, 2022)

[2] Quote of the American feminist Gloria Steinem (consulted on March 01, 2022).

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the UK Governments Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).