Defiant Deviance and Franco-Moroccan Cinema's Queer Representations of Masculinity

in Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities

Abstract

In the last decade, Franco-Moroccan directors have begun to explore culturally taboo and unrepresented sexual communities within Morocco. This article examines how two pioneering films, Abdellah Taïa's Salvation Army and Nabil Ayouch's Much Loved, contribute to an emerging cultural politics in the Arab-speaking world that is reframing marginalized or invisible sexualities. While these films address issues of sexual tourism, incest, and prostitution, among others, the focus of this article is on the films’ critiques of internalized homophobia, sexual tourism, and the sociopolitical power structures that occlude, marginalize, or shame those males outside of the heterosexual matrix. Analyzing the films’ portrayal of the semiotics of forbidden desire, internalized homophobia, and the circulation and spatialization of queer sexualities in Morocco, this article argues that Salvation Army and Much Loved complicate our understanding of Arab masculinities and add to a growing queer visibility that stretches from the Maghreb to the Gulf.

Contributor Notes

Lowry Martin is an Associate Professor of French at the University of Texas at El Paso. He received his Phd from the University of California–Berkeley in French with a Designated Emphasis in Women's Studies, Gender, and Sexuality. His primary fields of study are French literature during France's Third Republic, Francophone cinema, and the intersections of law, literature, and sexuality. He has written on Dumas, Colette, and Proust as well as Francophone and Israeli cinema.His book, Sapphic Mosaics: Fantasy, Desire, and the Cultural Production of Paris-Lesbos 1880–1939 is currently under review, and he is working on a second monograph entitled Imagining the Promised Land: Transnational Imaginaries and French Cultural Production.

  • AlamiAida. 2014. “Muslim, Gay, and Making No Apologies.New York Times11 April. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/world/middleeast/abdellah-taia-makes-his-directorial-debut.html?_r=0.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Al-GhitaiGamal. 1989. Risalat al basa'ir fi al-masa'ir [XXX]. Cairo: Madbuli.

  • AmarPaul. 2011. “Middle East Masculinity Studies: Discourses of ‘Men in Crisis,’ Industries of Gender Revolution.Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 7 (3): 3670. https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/jmiddeastwomstud.7.3.36.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AmerSahar. 2014. “A Right to Exist: Australia's First Queer Arab Film Festival Launches.The Conversation19 August. http://theconversation.com/a-right-to-exist-australias-first-queer-arab-film-festival-launches-30524.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BersaniLeo. 1995. Homos. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • ButlerJudith. 1997. “Merely Cultural.Social Text 5253: 265277. doi:10.2307/466744.

  • ConleyVerena. 2005. “Minoritarian.” In The Deleuze Dictionary ed. Adrian Parr164165. New York: Columbia University Press.

  • ChambersSamuel A. 2009. The Queer Politics of Television. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • DialmyAbdessamade. 2004. “Masculinity in Morocco.Al-Raida 21 (104–105): 8898. http://iwsaw.lau.edu.lb/publications/al-raida/al-raida-what-about-masculinity.php.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • DehghanSaeed Kamali. 2014. “Abdellah Taïa: ‘In Arab Countries, Homosexuality Is a Crime. This Has Got to Change.’The Guardian3 October. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/oct/03/abdellah-taia-salvation-army-interview-armee-du-salut-homosexuality-morocco.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FoucaultMichel. 1978. The History of Sexuality. New York: Pantheon Books.

  • FroschJon. 2013. “There's a Place for Gays in Islam.The Atlantic6 September. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/09/theres-a-place-for-gays-in-islam/279400/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GeorgisDina. 2015. “Muffled Scream: Queer Affects in Taïa's Salvation Army.Kohl: A Journal for Body and Gender Research 1 (2). https://www.gwi-boell.de/en/2016/01/29/muffled-scream-queer-affects-abdellah-taias-salvation-army.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GirouxHenry A.Pedagogy, Film, and the Responsibility of Intellectuals: A Response.Cinema Journal C (2): 119127. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1225923.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HalberstamJudith. 2005. In A Queer Time & Place. New York: New York University Press.

  • HopewellJohn. 2017. “Nabil Ayouch: No Subject Should Be Taboo in the Arab World.Variety13 December. https://variety.com/2017/film/festivals/nabil-ayouch-taboos-arab-youth-women-dubai-variety-studio-1202639793/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • IbnouzahirZineb. 2016. “Abdellah Taïa: ‘Même quand ils subissent le pire, les homosexuels n'ont pas le droit à la pitié’” [Abdellah Taïa: Even when they experience the worst treatment homosexuals do not have the right to compassion]. Le Maroc des femmes [Women's Morocco] 31 March. https://lemarocdesfemmes.com/2016/03/31/abdellah-taia-meme-quand-ils-subissent-le-pire-les-homosexuels-marocains-nont-pas-droit-a-la-pitie/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KnegtPeter. 2014. “Talking to the Director of ‘Salvation Army’ The Queer Highlight of New Directors/NewFilms.Indie Wire19 March. http://www.indiewire.com/2014/03/talking-to-the-director-of-salvation-army-the-queer-highlight-of-new-directorsnew-films-214531/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LagrangeFrédéric. 2000. “Male Homosexuality in Modern Arabic Literature.” In Imagined Masculinities: Male Identity and Culture in the Modern Middle East ed. Mai Ghoussoub and Emma Sinclair Webb169198. London: Saqi Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MantrachAlexis Mehdi. 2012. “Manifestation hostiles contre l'écrivain homosexual Abdellah Taïa à El Jadida.Yabiladi31 May. www.yabiladi.com/articles/details/11041/manifestations-hostiles-contre-l-ecrivain-homosexuel.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MartinFlorence. 2016. “Cinéma-monde: De-orbiting Maghrebi Cinema.Journal of Contemporary French Civilization 41 (3–4): 461475. doi:10.3828/cfc.2016.31.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MassadJoseph A. 2007. Desiring Arabs. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • MillettKate. 1968. Sexual Politics. Boston: New England Free Press.

  • Morocco World News. 2015. “Tunisia, First Arab Country to Screen Much Loved.Morocco World News4 November. https://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/11/171886/tunisia-first-arab-country-to-screen-much-loved/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NcubeGibson. 2014. “Sexual/Textual Politics: Rethinking Gender and Sexuality in Gay Moroccan Literature.” Journal of Contemporary African Studies 32 (4): 476490. doi:10.1080/02589001.2014.978555.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • NcubeGibson. 2014. “Arab-Masculinities on Trial: Gay Muslim Writers Broaching Homosexuality.Gender Forum 47: 5063. https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-3309043381/arab-muslim-masculinity-on-trial-gay-muslim-writers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OrlandoValérie. 2019. “Depicting and Documenting Violence against Women in the Contemporary Counter-Narratives of Moroccan Film.Journal of Applied Linguistics and Cultural Studies 2: 147173. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Depicting-and-Documenting-Violence-against-Women-in-Orlando/48a53a04f6df6eea71f52cfd655cc67405b6b83e.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OrlandoValérie. 2009. Francophone Voices of the “New” Morocco in Film and Print: (Re)presenting a Society in Transition. New York: Palgrave.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • OrlandoValérie. 2011. Screening Morocco: Contemporary Depictions in Film in a Changing Society. Columbus: Ohio University Press.

  • PritchardTiffany. 2015. “Q&A: Nabil Ayouch, Director of ‘Much Loved.’Screen Daily12 October. https://www.screendaily.com/features/qanda-nabil-ayouch-director-of-much-loved/5095358.article.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ProvencherDenis. 2017. Queer Maghrebi French: Language Temporalities Transaffiliations. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

  • PuterbaughGeoff. 1990. “Africa, North.” In Encyclopedia of Homosexuality ed. Wayne R. Dynes1922. New York: Garland Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RebuciniGianfranco. 2013. “Masculinités hégémoniques et sexualité entre hommes au Maroc” [Hegemonic masculinities and sexuality among men in Morocco]. Cahiers d'études africaines 1 (209–210): 387415. doi:10.4000/etudesafricaines.17367.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TaïaAbdellah. 2012. “A Boy to Be Sacrificed.The New York Times3 March. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/opinion/sunday/a-boy-to-be-sacrificed.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • TempleWalter S. 2017. “Transitions within Queer North African Cinema: Nouri Bouzid, Abdellah Taïa, and the Transnational Tourist.” Screen Bodies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Experience Perception and Display 2 (2): 6477. doi:10.3167/screen.2017.020205.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WhitakerBrian. 2009. “Interview with Abdellah Taia.Al BabJanuary. http://al-bab.com/interview-abdellah-taia.

  • YepGust A. 2003. “The Violence of Heteronormativity in Communication Studies: Notes on Injury, Healing, and Queer World-Making.” In Queer Theory and Communication: From Disciplining Queers to Queering the Disciple(s) ed. Gust A. YepKaren E. Lovaas and John P. Elia1159. New York City: Harrington Park Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 19 19 14
Full Text Views 39 39 0
PDF Downloads 40 40 0