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28 juin 2009 7 28 /06 /juin /2009 13:31

SEXUAL BEHAVIORS AND PRACTICES IN MOROCCO[1] (I)

HOMOSEXUALITY

 

Prof. Dr. Abdessamad Dialmy

University Mohamed V Rabat

 

 

The social-anthropological studies that describe sexual behaviors and practices are qualitative in their big majority. In fact, only four studies[2] have tried to assess quantitatively sexual behaviors and practices, but their sample is not representative. Neither political power nor religious forces are favorable to assess Moroccan sexuality. The quantitative assessment of "illegal" and "anomalous" sexual behaviors and practices could be an official recognition of their existence and their importance, which is an inconceivable thing within the logic of a state that essentially governs in the name of a scholar and fundamentalist Islam attached to what must be. These qualitative studies say one essential thing: sexual behaviors and practices are characterized by an uncontrolled opening[3] that could be described in terms of anarchy[4].  Of course such statement disturbs an Islamic state, which is unable to demonstrate the opposite. Finally, the last weapon is to declare the results of qualitative studies not representative.

 

I- Homosexuality

 

Sexual socialization makes itself through rituals that construct a dominant masculine heterosexuality. Homosexuality remains this non-definitional troubling in-between. 

The socialization of the boy is centered on the glorification of his penis. Thus the circumcision, as a rite of passage[5], is a fundamental act in the construction of the masculine identity: through it, the boy is delivered from the prepuce, excluded of the female world and acquires virility[6]. Consequently, the female world becomes an object of sexual desire. So circumcision is the founding moment of heterosexuality. The main anxiety of parents is to have a homosexual boy[7]. To be heterosexual is to be sexually correct.  

At his first marriage, the groom is ritually called sultan (king), which is a way to say that "the groom becomes a man when becoming the male par excellence, the king (...). He symbolically becomes the king from the beginning of ceremonies and he remains king until their completion, until the wife's blood is spilled (...). The king makes the groom reach the adult age, and the groom makes penetrate the king in his private domain, in what determines his identity, the first conjugal sexual act”[8]. To be a man is to be a king, and to be a king is to be a man. To be a man-sultan means to be virile, it means to dominate the wife, it means first to be married. Therefore, the male (rajal) is the harsh man, as opposed to the lenient man (rouijel)[9]. The man is the master who must sexually initiate the wife and control later on the sexuality of his female offspring  (the preservation of virginity).  

This hierarchical relationship of sexes is currently in transition in the sense that the traditional dichotomy between two hierarchical sexual identities is put into crisis by the evolution of Moroccan society, and more precisely by the evolution of the sexuality and reproduction. Female sexuality now dares to affirm itself[10] outside the institution of marriage. It is a sexuality that is de-institutionalizing and that is beginning to claim the right to auto-determination and independence.  

But masculine identity as power is still there, insufficiently shaken by the breakthroughs of the Moroccan woman in the domains of education and employment. Besides, the socioeconomic crisis (induced by the structural adjustment policy since 1983) compels the common Moroccan male to regress toward the traditional shapes of masculine domination. The principle of sex equity is the first victim of this crisis in spite of all efforts made by the civil society and state feminism[11] in order to dissociate between equality of sexes and economic expansion. A tradition that affirms itself in the name of Islam, supported by scholars and fundamentalists, becomes an ideological shelter that allows the rejection of all hopes for sex equity in spite of the fact that social-sexual evolution goes slowly in this sense.    

A study entitled "Masculine Identity and Reproductive Health in Morocco" revealed that, for the common Moroccan man, bi-sexuality remains illness, deviance and vice[12]. It is above all a depreciation of the man, a man who is bi-sexual is said to be feminine. Bi-sexuality relegates the man to a patriarchal lower rank. Youngsters, the most concerned with their sexual identity because of their socioeconomic vulnerability, feel this depreciation even further when their sexual behaviors are homosexual.  

In Morocco, the most tolerant social attitude explains masculine homosexuality by an excess of feminine hormones[13]. Implicitly, this "popular-scientific" explanation of homosexuality reduces it to the so-called passive homosexuality. The penetrated homosexual is the only one considered homosexual. Indeed the excess of female hormones is interpreted in terms of anomaly and illness. But even when recognized as a prisoner of his hormones, the homosexual is not considered as a victim, the forgivable victim of a hormonal destiny independent of his will. While being irresponsible, the penetrated homosexual is accused of immorality and inspires disgust[14].  

Is male homosexuality compatible with masculine identity? Five answers[15] have been provided to this question. The first consists in establishing a mechanical synonymy between maleness and masculinity. In other terms, having a penis is sufficient to be male. The second consists in reducing homosexuality to receptive homosexuality. Only the one that is penetrated is said homosexual and stop being a man. The third answer consists in de-masculinizing all homosexual actors. If the receptive homosexual is de-masculinized because he is penetrated, the penetrating homosexual is also de-masculinized because of his abandonment of work, honor and dignity, values that are still associated to masculinity. The fourth answer consists to dice-sexualize all homosexual actors. Homosexuals are not considered as women or as men. Not being a man, the sodomite is not even a woman; this is due to a newborn respect expressed to the woman's consideration. The fifth answer consists in dehumanizing the homosexual actor. The homosexual stops being a human being to become an animal, he stops being human as well as religious because of a homosexual activity. Heterosexuality as an Islamic principle is definitional of the human being. 

These distinctions that synthesize attitudes of the common Moroccan allows to distinguish two sexual meanings of masculinity: a biological sense according to which the male is a man with respect to his anatomy, and a social-religious sense where the man is exclusively heterosexual. Social-religiously correct masculinity is heterosexual. One notices that masculinity is first of all sexually defined by the biologic sex, and then by the sexual behavior. To be a man means to be a heterosexual male. Consequently, there is no masculinity outside this orientation, no homosexuality in the man's definition. Homosexuality is the mistake that excludes the man from the field of masculinity. 

Girls are discreet and allusive concerning this topic. For them, homosexuality is not considered a less dangerous substitute (no risk of defloration or pregnancy in comparison with the heterosexual intercourse), but above all as an immoral behavior, a perversion[16]. The attitude toward homosexuality is negative: 90% refuse the masculine homosexuality while 87,2% refuse the female one[17]. The perception of homosexuality as an anomaly is expressed by its current Arabic translation, choudoud, which literally means perversion. Masculine homosexuality is not translated through the word liwat and lesbianism is not translated by the word sihaq in spite of the existence of these two terms in Arabic. Words liwat and sihaq are more descriptive, with less perverse connotation.

For boys, the homosexual intercourse is assumed only in so far as it is a means to prove a double virility. The active homosexual (louat) makes love to women and men without defining himself a bi-sexual person. For this reason, the Moroccan boy reports his first homosexual relationship gladly only if he had the active role, the penetrating role. No one speaks about his first homosexual experience in which his partner has penetrated him[18]. Indeed, the situation of the hassass (who likes to be penetrated by taste) and the zamel (the homosexual male prostitute) the two figures of “passive” homosexuality is different. Their sexual practices are not assumed because of socially depreciated[19]. But the hassass is more depreciated because he likes to be penetrated. The zamel is more considered as worker, a prostitute. Consequently, sex work becomes for some homosexuals a stratagem to live their homosexuality in a less dangerous way.

One recognizes homosexuality like a recurrent social phenomenon, which begins to be described in terms of market[20]: youngsters sell their bodies because they are not able to sell something else, without a concern about satisfying any kind of bio-psychological need. Here homosexuality is prostitution, sexual work. It is not recognized as hormonal destiny and/or interior need. This economic interpretation of homosexuality in terms of prostitution is a way to justify it or even to excuse it. Within this logic, youngsters would not have another solution to earn their living[21]. 

In some cases, masculine homosexuality is a surrogate. It is the sexual act that takes place between two males because of the lack of a female sexual partner. This homosexuality does not answer an interior psychological need; it does not reflect a recognized and assumed homosexual identity. It is essentially pragmatic. It is expressed through two major shapes: the rape of the minor by the adult[22] and the adult homosexuality in jail[23].



[1] Extracted from my paper entitled « Sexuality and Sexual Health in Morocco », in "Challenges in Sexual and Reproductive Health: Technical Consultation on Sexual Health, OMS, Genève 2002.

[2] I refer here to A. Dialmy's books La femme et la sexualité au Maroc (Casablanca, Editions Maghrébines, 1985, in Arabic) and Logement, sexualité et Islam (Casablanca, Eddif, 1995) and to Naamane-Guessouss's book Au delà de toute pudeur (Eddif, 1987). I refer also to Dialmy's study Identité masculine et santé reproductive au Maroc, MERC/Ford Foundation, 2000.

[3] A. Dialmy : “Vers le libéralisme sexuel”, Al Asas, n° 20, 1980. This article was published again as a chapter under the tittle of "Jeunesse et sexualité à Casablanca" in my book Sexualité et discours au Maroc, Casablanca, Afrique-Orient, 1998, pp. 51-63.

[4] A. Dialmy : Sexualité et Politique au Maroc, FNUAP, 2001, inédit p. 27-28.

[5] A.V Gennep : Les rites de passage, Paris, Emile Noury, 1909.

[6] C. Bonnet: “Réflexions sur l'influence du milieu familial traditionnel sur la structuration de la personnalité au Maroc”, Revue de Neuro-Psychiatrie Infantile, n° 10-11, 1970.

[7] A. Belarbi: Enfance au quotidien, Casablanca, Le Fennec, 1991, pp. 111-113.

[8] Elaine Combs-Schilling: “La légitimation rituelle du pouvoir au Maroc ”, in Femmes, culture et société au Maghreb, Casablanca, Afrique-Orient, 1996, pp. 76-85.

[9] This distinction between hard man and soft man is taken from Elisabeth Badinter in XY, De l’identité masculine, Paris, Odile Jacob, 1992.

[10] The magazine Femmes du Maroc deals regularly with feminine sexual themes. See A. Dialmy : “Les champs de l’éducation sexuelle au Maroc : les acquis et les besoins ”, in Santé de reproduction au Maroc : facteurs démographiques et socio-culturels, Rabat, Ministry of Plan and Economic Prevision, CERED, 1998, p. 289.

[11] A. Dialmy: “La transition démocratique: du mouvement féministe au féminisme d’Etat ”, Al Ittihad Al Ichtiraki, 15 April 1998 (in Arabic) and published again in my book Toward an Islamic sexual democracy, Fès, Infoprint, 2000, pp. 55-58 (in Arabic).

[12] A. Dialmy : Identité masculine et santé reproductive au Maroc, op. cit. p. 72-74.

[13] Ibid. pp. 72-74.

[14] Ibid. pp. 72-74

[15] Ibid. pp. 74-78.

[16]A. Dialmy : Jeunesse, Sida et Islam au Maroc, Casablanca, Eddif, 2000, pp. 75-76.

[17] A. Dialmy : Logement, sexualité et Islam, Casablanca, Eddif, 1995, p. 229.

[18] A. Dialmy : Jeunesse, Sida et Islam au Maroc, op. cit. p. 78.

[19] S. Davis : Asolescence in a Moroccan town, Rutgers University, New  Brunswick, NJ, 1989.

[20] A. Dialmy : Identité masculine et santé reproductive au Maroc, op. cit. p; 74; and Sexualité et Politique au Maroc, op. cit. p. 32-39.

[21] L. Imane : Prévention de proximité auprès des prostitués masculins au Maroc, Casablanca, ALCS, inédit.

[22] A. Dialmy : Jeunesse, Sida et islam au Maroc, op. cit. p. 90.

[23] M. Jamal : L’homosexualité dans la prison marocaine, memory of master in sociology, 1995, (under direction of Pr. Dialmy). See also, A. Dialmy : Jeunesse, Sida et islam au Maroc, op.cit. p. 90.

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