Fatima Mernissi is one of the most widely known and well respected women writing about Morocco today. She was a pioneer in the field of women’s sociological writing in the Middle East and she broke many stereotypes of Moroccan women.
Mernissi grew up in Fez in the 1940s and 50s, a completely different time. Women’s rights movements in Morocco were just beginning, and Morocco was still under French occupation. Women, especially upper class women, were expected to remain in the home – it was unseemly and below their status to leave the house. For these women, they lived in what Mernissi calls a harem, but what most would now call a large riad. These riads usually housed many branches of the same family – cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and each part of the family occupied a different area of the home, depending on status within the family and other internal politics.
Check out the rest of my review on my blog.