Gender interactions in the Moslem world and in Western societies are often opposed in terms of the woman's place in society. The Cultural differences between the two worlds can be underlined but it is not the subject of sociology to evaluate which one of the both ways of gender interaction is the best. The object of this essay is rather, to focus on the transition that can take place in some Moslem societies from ‘tradition' to ‘modernity' as far as sexual interactions are concerned. Using this framework, Fatima Mernissi, in Beyond the Veil: male-female dynamics in modern Muslim society (1975) makes the statement that in modern Morocco in the 1970s did not provide norms for sexual interaction between the sexes because of the desegregation of gender. According to Mernissi, this society is characterized by promiscuity between sexes and women are everywhere. Modernization broke down the Moroccan model of society and replaced it with a western one. As a consequence, females and males in Moroccan society are facing a crisis of femininity and masculinity and need to reshape gender definitions in a context of the absence of norms.
[...] It cannot be argued that Mernissi's view of modern anomic society is true because of the heterogeneity of Moslem societies. In all these societies, Islam ideology varies and the transition is not taking place at the same time. For instance, Sudan is getting stricter and stricter concerning sexual interaction whereas Egypt is becoming a modern Moslem society. Similarly, dress codes vary from one country to another. For instance, ‘chador' is prescript in Sudan whereas veil is now worn by an attractive manner in Egypt. [...]
[...] This society is ruled according to the Sharia (religious law) that segregates women and prevents promiscuity for fear of her destructive seductive power upon men. In contrast, the ‘new' Morocco is said to provide no norms because of the desegregation of gender. In modern Morocco, norms are no longer avoiding sexual interaction between the sexes and instead of arranged marriages are based on love. Therefore, Moroccan society is coping with an unsolvable problem because of the consequences of women's liberation. [...]
[...] I also disagree with Mernissi statement because it is not true that there are no norms ruling heterosexual interaction even for the urban and educated people in the Moroccan society in the 1970s. It is not because there is a transition and a modernization that there are no rules anymore organizing heterosexual interaction. Indeed, modern societies that Mernissi uses to compare traditional and modern Morocco do provide rules. These norms are new ones and are not explicit so that Mernissi can interpret Moroccan society as a society without norms. [...]
[...] To sum it up, I disagree with Mernissi's statement because it is not universally true for Moroccan society but also because there are still norms ruling sexual interaction even if they are less obvious and less harsh. They are implicit codes dictated by society. In the second part, let us discuss Mernissi's statement that says that other Moslem societies are characterized by societies where the population shares the belief in Islam in Africa, the Middle East or in Asia. It seems true that other Moslem societies could fit in Mernissi's framework. [...]
[...] In modern Moslem societies the women tend to go to work and this is perceived as a castrating phenomenon for men who lose their authority upon the family. These changes do not provide any rules for a definition of gender but it has to be done before the end of the transition because the erosion of men's supremacy lead to tension between sexes. In Iran, (JK Chahadi, 1981) there are still rules segregating women and men but modernization has broken the mahram/ na-mahram categories that was the base of the segregation of the sexes for non related people. [...]
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