(cigarettes and lighter). Dark curls cascaded from the ponytailatop her head, which gave Aïcha the appearance of maturity, indeeda certain sensuality, noted by men who did classic double-takeswhen she passed by. Like other teens, she emphasized and deempha-sized that sensuality according to context: according, that is, towhether she was at home, in school, or out and about with me.At school, Aïcha, like her sisters, was considered a bright stu-dent, though “aggressive” was the epithet often used by teachers todescribe her and her closest friends. As one put it,
You feel this internal tension from them that’s translated into a certain ag-gression . . . I wonder if it comes from what they live, you know, this ten-sion between home— [
] well, their parents have a certain way of liv-ing in France, a certain mentality, and then they, the girls living in France,are confronted by a world completely different.
Aïcha appeared keenly aware of those differences, some of whichshe conveyed in her journal: “I was raised in a cool way because Ican easily talk to my mother about things, like about marriage. Oth-erwise, my parents are very strict. For example, I can’t go out after6:00
. to visit a friend or do things like that. No way!” Althoughshe often mentioned that her parents were strict, she noted certainironies, such as being allowed to travel to Italy for ﬁve days on aschool trip, although she had a strict curfew in France. She alsonoted during one of our conversations that her mother had foundout that she smoked, did not tell her father, and only told her that itwas bad for her health. She expected an altogether stronger reac-tion, one akin to the dreadful, heated exchange between her motherand eldest sister when her mother discovered that her sister had a boyfriend. Amidst accusations of lost virginity and relentless admo-nitions, Aïcha’s sister screamed in self-defense, “You’ll see,
the sheets will be red,” meaning that her virginity was intact. Thatdeclaration seemed to end the argument, but it ignited talk of mar-riage for Aïcha’s sister.My ﬁrst visit to her home was not long after that ﬁght, and aswell as being interested in meeting her parents and having a home-cooked
I was looking forward to seeing Aïcha in that con-text, among her family. Would she be as unrestrained around themas she was with me? The question was answered immediately whenAïcha answered the door at my arrival. Her attire was drastically dif-ferent from the styles she typically wore at school or outside of herneighborhood. Her high-heeled black boots and tight jeans and
Muslim Girls and the Other France