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Lonely Planet Part II

Joe Ambrose files from Morocco.

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by Joe Ambrose, Literary Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2007
Cheap hotels get the thumbs down if they're located over bars full of men

There will be little conflict netween the Lonely Planet agenda and that of the Foreign Office. Coffee shops in Lonely Planet's Moroccan cities are defined, a lot, by whether they are "woman friendly" or male-dominated. Cheap hotels get the thumbs down if they're located over bars full of men.

There are continual references to streets and districts which women would be best advised to avoid at night - by which they mean white middle class foreign women because there are Moroccan women all over the place in every Moroccan street and district I've ever visited. An invisible portrait is painted of Moroccan men as sexual wolverines hanging out on street corners with their hard-ons in their hands, always ready for rape, wolf whistling, or lewd commentary.

The other side of this attitudinal conceit is the vision it portrays of what foreign women are up to while holidaying here. If the guide is to be believed, the average western woman visits this part of the world in a sexually uptight frame of mind, traversing the entire nation with with her legs firmly crossed - a neat trick if you can manage it. From what I see, a substantial percentage of women who visit Morocco on their own or in the company of other women do so with the intention of viewing the place with their legs pretty much permanently up in the air - an even neater trick if you can manage it.

There are, of course, plenty right-wing Islamaphobic bitches - many of them from England and France - who conform to the Lonely Planet stereotype. Forever sniffing at toilets, neurotically examining tomatoes and plates of french fries, patting their various assets to make sure nobody has stolen them, busy examining themselves to ensure they've not been raped while their guard was down.

Meanwhile the hapless Moroccans, nice and nasty like every slice of humanity you've ever examined, get on with their business, many of them making a frugal living humoring the exponentially ridiculous prejudices and whims of rich self-centred assholes.

Joe Ambrose
Literary Editor

Joe Ambrose has written 12 books, the most recent being Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and The Fenian Reader. He is currently writing a book about the Spanish Civil War.

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