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Word Count: 3,362
For the western reader there is often a certain amount of enticement that comes from the exploration of the exotic In the same way western culture may seem exotic and exciting to those who live in the eastern part of the world No more is this obvious than in Fatima Mernissis Dreams of Trespass This book is a memoir of Mernissis childhood living in a harem in Morocco a country with strict religious laws governing the people From a western perspective the harem has been highly sexualized through the art and travel writing of the late eighteenth century on to the early part of the twentieth It becomes clear very early on that the harem is not a place for men to fulfill their lust-fueled fantasies but rather a domestic sphere in which the women and children were meant to stay While the harem is not as overtly sexual as westerners want to believe it is in fact the opposite of the liberation that comes from free sexuality This domestic environment was oppressive to the women who were told they must live out their lives confined in high walls Throughout her narrative Mernissi continually challenges the oppression of the harem and instead seeks to understand why exactly the women are being forced to live like this Mernissi accomplishes this by using her nine-year-old self as the narrator in a way that brings the western reader in and explains the rules and boundaries that would have been more easily understood by a Moroccan audience Mernissi does it in this way so as to be able to express her real feelings towards the harem and to teach the western reader about exactly what kind of a life some of the women of Morocco were living in in the early twentieth century A different approach to the writings of the east would be Orhan Pamuks the White Castle This novel is presented as being a memoir but is
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