Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood

By Fatima Mernissi; Ruth V. Ward | Go to book overview

1.
MY HAREM FRONTIERS

I WAS BORN in a harem in 1940 in Fez, a ninth-century Moroccan city some five thousand kilometers west of Mecca, and one thousand kilometers south of Madrid, one of the dangerous capitals of the Christians. The problems with the Christians start, said Father, as with women, when the hudud, or sacred frontier, is not respected. I was born in the midst of chaos, since neither Christians nor women accepted the frontiers. Right on our threshold, you could see women of the harem contesting and fighting with Ahmed the doorkeeper as the foreign armies from the North kept arriving all over the city. In fact, foreigners were standing right at the end of our street, which lay just between the old city and the Ville Nouvelle, a new city that they were building for themselves. When Allah created the earth, said Father, he separated men from women, and put a sea between Muslims and Christians for a reason. Harmony exists when each group respects the prescribed limits of the other; trespassing leads only to sorrow and unhappiness. But women dreamed of

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Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • 1. My Harem Frontiers 1
  • 2. Scheherazade, the King, and the Words 12
  • 3. the French Harem 20
  • 4. Yasmina's First Co-Wife 28
  • 5. Chama and the Caliph 39
  • 6. Tamou's Horse 48
  • 7. the Harem Within 57
  • 8. Aquatic Dishwashing 66
  • 9. Moonlit Nights of Laughter 74
  • 10. the Men's Salon 82
  • 11. World War Ii: View from the Courtyard 92
  • 12. Asmahan, the Singing Princess 102
  • 13. the Harem Goes to the Movies 112
  • 14. Egyptian Feminists Visit the Terrace 124
  • 15. Princess Budur's Fate 136
  • 16. the Forbidden Terrace 144
  • 17. Mina, the Rootless 156
  • 18. American Cigarettes 174
  • 19. Mustaches and Breasts 188
  • 20. the Silent Dream of Wings and Flights 202
  • 21. Skin Politics: Eggs, Dates, and Other Beauty Secrets 218
  • 22. Henna, Clay, and Men's Stares 230
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