Thursday, September 23, 2010

Making girls into boys

Photo from Sociological Images
Did you know that in Afghanistan if you don't have any sons you can designate one of your daughters as a boy? You see, girls can't go out in public without a chaperone or work outside the home, but a girl that's classed as a boy can, and what's more she can chaperone her sisters so that they can go out and run errands. I read about it here and it's an article worth reading.

I don't quite know what to make of it. I think it shows that the status quo can be so embedded that challenging it feels impossible. The families don't let girls do the forbidden things, they have to create a 'boy' instead. It also tells me that people will perform any kind of mental gymnastics to enable them to support the way things are.

What I can't help wondering is if girls can do those things when classed as boys why can't they all be allowed to chop off their hair and dress as boys with all the freedoms that allows.

16 COMMENTS:

Kelly Dexter said...

I was completely unaware of this fact. How sad and confusing for those children. Thank you for the link.

fairyhedgehog said...

Kelly, I didn't know about it either. I wonder which is worst: to have the taste of freedom when you're young and have it taken away at puberty, or never to have it at all.

Lexi said...

I'd go for the brief taste of freedom any day.

In a much more minor way, many parents in the West restrict their daughters (what's with all that pink?) My daughter says if she has a daughter, she won't be buying her any dresses at all till she's a teenager. But then I honestly don't think I'd have brought her up any differently had she been a boy.

fairyhedgehog said...

Lexi, your daughter sounds very lucky! I grew up in a much more gendered time, which I hated, but my Mum did support getting dirty and tree climbing, which was great!

Whirlochre said...

The only conclusion I can come to is that Afghan pantos must be like soaps.

Old Kitty said...

Hi!!!

I tried clicking on the link but when I do I get thrown out of blogger and I have to sign up again. LOL!

Nevermind!! What a crazy situation. I grieve for women the world over who are subject to such (male? patriarchal?) madness.

Take care
x

fairyhedgehog said...

Whirl, you always have a sideways view of things!

Kitty, it's really sad, isn't it? Oh, and the link is now mended - thank you!

Simon Kewin said...

Interesting and, yeah, very sad. Patriarchal nonsense.

It's incredible, isn't it, how people can go about their lives holding these huge contradictions in their heads?

fairyhedgehog said...

Simon, it makes me wonder what contradictions I'm living with without realising it.

Scarlet Blue said...

How bizarre.
But then again during the war women were suddenly thought capable of doing bloke work when the men went away to fight.
Sx
WV: maningle

Rebecca Wells said...

I find this absolutely fascinating, from a writer's perspective. But sad-making from a human perspective...

Thanks for the link - I had never heard of this before.

fairyhedgehog said...

Scarlet, yes and then after the war they were expected to go back to "women's work" i.e. being at home.

Rebecca, it was new to me too.

Wendy Ramer said...

I like to think of myself as an intelligent and open-minded person, but...I so don't get it.

fairyhedgehog said...

Wendy, it's a whole different world, isn't it?

Igor Prawn said...

And in Tonga and Samoa a family with no daughter (needed for cooking etc) can designate one of the boys as a girl. He wears his hair long, dresses as a girl, and does the cooking, looks after other children, etc etc. Such is human culture.

fairyhedgehog said...

Thanks, Igor, I didn't know that.

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