Thursday, May 04, 2006
Mangoes & Millet Flour
By: Ben & Holly
Notice anything about this photo? It might be hard to tell. We ride our bikes past this watering hole every day. There is always a line of women and children with large plastic jugs lined up to collect water. Yesterday there was a lively and colorful soccer game going on in the same field. Not one girl was playing soccer. Not one boy was collecting water.
Last week we were talking to some MCCers who are working in the field of education. They told us that female attendance in school is quite high. Unfortunately, the quality of education they receive is not on par with their male classmates. Girls are required to bring cooking knives to school to help in the kitchen while boys are given free time for studying. Principals have been heard making statements to the effect of, “Girl-child education is a waste of money. All they do is distract the boys from their studies.”
On the weekend I, (Holly) went to Gulu with a friend to see a traditional concert and dance. Apparently, it was meant to be celebrating and appreciating women. But the way women are celebrated and appreciated is as producers of children, cooks, and providers of sexual satisfaction. I wanted to appreciate the culture—and I do—I love so much of it, but there is a part of the culture that is unjust and needs to change. My inner cultural relativist cringes to write that, but really, cultural relativism has its limits and for me at least issues of gender fall outside the boundaries of prudent application. It felt awkward clapping and enjoying amazing dancers and musicians when what they were dancing to and singing about was perpetuating discrimination against women. The mentality that is nurtured is a breeding ground for the high prevalence of sexual and gender based violence.
There was one song about how "all women cook the same" which is code for all women are the same in bed. Apparently, that is supposed to be a song that encourages men to be faithful to their wives because if all women are the same than why bother having more than one. Then there was another one that was supposed to appreciate the work that women do but instead it sounded like a song that encourages women to stay in the kitchen. One line said something to the effect of: "be careful men when you try to do a woman's work, when you grind the millet flour you might get your testicles caught in the grinder."
During the concert something smacked me on the top of the head. I looked around to see who'd thrown something at me, and then I saw a mango had fallen out of the tree and my head happened to be in its path. One of my CPA friends said that is a blessing. Everyone around me insisted I should eat it to get the full benefit of the blessing. Since I’m a woman, I’m sure the blessing has something to do with producing children.