Toxic masculinity versus positive masculinity, or how to rethink masculinity in a patriarchal society like that of Morocco. This is the ambitious goal of the “Machi Rojola” podcast, launched by the Moroccan collective Elille in November 2020. A project that, according to its creators, does not seek to demonize men, but rather to highlight the harmful and socially destructive effects of certain traditional ideals about male behavior, such as violent domination, misogyny, self-reliance, and competition, among others.
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The Elille collective emerged during confinement, when the health and social crisis exacerbated the factors of discrimination and intensified the vulnerability of women and minorities. It brings together a dozen men and women who seek to reconsider the place of men in our society, but also give a voice to minority groups (LGTB community, elderly people, people with reduced mobility, etc.). The podcast is only the first action of the group, which has announced the launch in July 2021 of a platform for the exchange and dissemination of academic and cultural content through podcasts, texts, photographs and videos.
“If the exceptional circumstances linked to COVID-19 have aggravated the mechanisms of violence against women and minorities, we consider that the situation predates the crisis. The different forms of violence are deeply rooted in our patriarchal societies and men are They are largely responsible for the situation. That is why it seems important to us that they are also part of the solution, “says Soufiane Hennani, co-founder of the collective and promoter of the podcast series.
The proposed objective is to sensitize men (who are not yet) about equality for all through a constructive debate and through the promotion of new masculinities.
The origin of the name
“Machi Rojola” is a popular expression that means “it is not masculinity” (and it is understood as “you are not a man”), commonly used to indicate the lack of courage, honor, strength … all supposedly masculine attributes.
“[En esta plataforma alternativa] we are reappropriating the expression to claim a plural and inclusive masculinity instead of an exclusive and toxic masculinity “, says this 30-year-old young man, recently a doctorate in oncology and molecular biology.” Biology is my area of specialization, but my interest in Human Rights is my commitment as a citizen and humanist, which I started first with Amnesty International and later with the collective Elille, which means’ night ‘in Arabic, although it is also a contraction or a play on words in French between the pronouns’ elle- il ‘”, explains Soufiane.
Is masculinity necessarily toxic? How can women have more representation in art and move us away from the traditional male monopoly? Is the man of tomorrow a feminist? What place does masculinity occupy in Islam? What place is there for multiple sexual and gender identities in our societies? These and other questions are answered by speakers such as the essayist Asma Lamrabet, the writer Abdellah Taïa, the intersectional researcher Françoise Vergès, the actor Fayçal Azizi or the director Hicham El Asry. The interventions are accompanied by testimonies from people involved, as well as ordinary citizens.
60,000 listeners and great enthusiasm
The first season of the podcast, which consists of eight episodes of 45 minutes each, was broadcast on social networks and on the main digital platforms such as Spotify, Anchor, Soundcloud … Recorded entirely in Dariya (Moroccan Arabic), the series has accumulated some 60,000 reproductions and has aroused great enthusiasm among young people since its launch. “The support of the young people was one of the most positive points of the project,” says Soufiane. In fact, the vast majority of listeners (+ 80%) are people between the ages of 18 and 35. Regarding the breakdown by gender: 54% of the public define themselves as “female”, 40% as “male”, and the rest do not give a definition or define themselves as “non-binary”.
Bold and innovative, this initiative has had above all the merit of starting a new debate on masculinity among young people and even within families. “The interventions of Fatna El Bouih [activista que fue encarcelada en los 70 por su militancia] and Asma Lamrabet [ensayista y feminista musulmana] They moved me a lot and allowed me to have interesting conversations with my father and brother about the prophet’s attitude towards women and the role of each one within the family, “says Hajar, 21, on Machi Rojola’s Facebook page .
The project had wide coverage in the national and international press, which was extremely favorable. In Morocco, they appeared several times on national television. prime time, reaching about three million viewers. The initiative was also featured on major public and private radio stations and published in most print and digital media. At an international level, various media have echoed the podcast, but the most important thing, according to Soufiane Hennani, is the multitude of debates in institutes, colleges and universities to which he has been invited in cities such as Casablanca, Rabat or Tangier, as well as the webinars and other online conferences in which he has participated.
“Whether with the students of the Regnault Lyceum in Tangier, the young ex-convicts of the association Relais-prison from Casablanca, students from the International University of Rabat or Al Akhawayn in Ifrane: the concerns are the same. I have observed in most young people a constant questioning, a desire for emancipation, and an eagerness to redistribute the cards within conservative societies. Issues of gender equality, religion, diversity in public spaces, and even respect for traditions are approached with much more common sense than among their elders. An attitude that gives a lot of hope “, concludes Soufiane Hennani.
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