Last Wednesday, our group took an afternoon road trip to Casablanca for an architectural walking tour around the old medina. The tour finished off with a visit to Casablanca’s most iconic landmark, other than Rick’s Café of course, Mosque Hassan II. Breathtakingly beautiful in architectural design and grandeur, Mosque Hassan II is the third largest mosque in the world. The mosque’s towering minaret is complete with a laser that points towards Mecca. Part of what makes the mosque such a spectacular place to visit is the fact that its north side juts out on a white foundation into the blue-green water of the Atlantic Ocean. A group of us sat on the break wall for about a twenty-minutes when we first arrived, watching the waves break as they hit the mosque’s foundation.
I was a bit surprised to find such a big group of swimmers and sunbathers hanging around the mosque. Further out, there were even a few surfers who were taking advantage of the huge wave swells. After a couple minutes of people watching, I noticed that there wasn’t a single girl in her swimsuit. Even though there were boys aged from 4 to 20 playing in and around the water, every girl I saw was modestly and fully clothed, far away from the water’s edged. Normally, I would have been itching to go swimming and play in the waves. However, the idea of putting on my swimsuit and joining the throng of boys was thoroughly unappealing. After three weeks of creepy comments and stares from men on the street and concerted efforts to stay conservatively dressed, I was not interested in exposing myself to any unnecessary objectification by men. It was such an unpleasant feeling to feel inhibited and unwelcome to do something because of my gender. It wasn’t as if there was a sign that said “No girls allowed” stuck in front of the beach’s entrance, but there might as well have been.