A Walking Oddity

Mind you, while occupied with my adventures in Morocco, posting this slipped my mind. So this is meant as an earlier blog post in my trip.

Being a student in the great city known as New York, I’ve learned many things. One of which is that if you’re a young college student who happens to be a female, you’re probably going to have an annoying amount of guys who will attempt to flirt with you, if you can even call it that, and get your attention. Unfortunately, I’m more than use to ignoring these guys and breezing past them but here in Morocco I find that a bit harder. It’s not as if I don’t know the standard procedure: guy catcalls, don’t make eye contact, don’t talk to them, walk away. It’s as simple as that.

In fact, I don’t even make eye contact with people on the streets of New York, ever. But being told that even eye contact can send the wrong message makes me hyper aware of ensuring I don’t make that mistake. It’s not even being extremely conscious of eye contact that bothers me but rather that I can be spotted in a crowd from about a mile away because of my red hair (granted I’ve never proven this). Not only does my hair make me unique in a mass of people, but being one of the only Asian people in all of Morocco draws unnecessary attention also. In a sense, I’m pretty much considered a commodity, not only am I American, but I’m also Asian and have red hair.

To be honest, more people in New York have tried to get my attention than in Morocco in a single day but it’s how uncomfortable it makes me feel when it happens in a foreign country. And back in New York and Boston, I have the ability to at least go out to places alone, if I do in Morocco, it most likely will invite unwanted attention from locals. I realized that the men in Morocco who dare talk to me are much more relentless than those in America. The other day I dared to walk home by myself at GASP 5:00 PM! It’s not like I haven’t walked back by myself before but this time was different. Not even a minute or so after I left Amideast, a guy from a car began to speak to me in French. As I walked away, he began to go in the same direction driving as slow as possible again trying to get my attention. I decided to head back to Amideast to instead find friends to walk back with rather than risk an absolute stranger follow me home. Even though my encounter was brief, it was quite unnerving. In New York, no one has had the nerve to follow me down the street.

Unfortunately, I guess I just have to deal with the unwanted attention while I’m here. On top of being harassed by local men, other Moroccans constantly stare at me. To be honest I was extremely annoyed by all the unnecessary looks. Despite being with two guys, nearly everyone gave me odd looks. In New York or Boston, seeing a young woman with an unusual hair color tended to not attract unnecessary attention. I can’t help but compare the East Coast and Rabat. It’s a habit I developed quickly. Even though all the locals regarded me as an oddity to my great annoyance, it was still something I can take away from their culture. No matter my looks, hair color and all, I feel that being an American follows anyone regardless of their appearance. It is ingrained in the way one walks, talks, and carries one’s self.

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