Thursday, December 2, 2010

Monthly on? Go to the corner!

Its a Sunday and son's 7 year old friend E is home. We hear E inform our son: "My mother can't enter the kitchen. She's in the corner today."

Our son promptly comes running to hubby and asks him, "What does he mean, she is in a corner?"

Hubby gives him some explanation that to his 7 year old head seems reasonable. Chapter closes.

At first I am amused that women still follow this age-old and if I may add 'regressive' ritual....of staying away from chores like cooking and entering the puja room when they have their 'period,' also known as 'the monthly' by my fitness instructor, 'menstrual cycle' or simply 'menstruation' by others...

This lady is fairly young (mid to late 20s) and I do wonder why she follows this ritual. She is also an IT professional (I wonder why I thought all that education should have caused her to omit such oppressive acts from her life) who lives in a nuclear set-up without the hoopla the elderly in families usually enforce (just hubby and kid - a happy chotta parivar)... So I cannot fathom for the love of God WHY she has to follow this orthodox practice.

This practice of 'segregating' menstruating women is a centuries old practice that didn't always have a negative connotation. In Native American tradition a woman is supposed to be extremely 'powerful' during this phase. I also read an extract from an ancient Indian text that described the 'power' of women during menstruation.

The onset of this natural process became controversial enough to prohibit women from entering places of worship or the kitchen during the 7th century when the influence of Brahmins increased. The idea of impurity and pollution during menstruation was brought in by them.

Read here why this practice is discriminatory. (The page opens in IE, not Google Chrome).

Many households practised segregation. My grandmother did. My husband's grandmother did. My friend's grandmothers did too. I remember talking to friends about this (in school and other wise) and realised that most of our mothers didn't enforce it on us. They may have had to follow it but most of us were spared the ignominy.

But more than the fact that despite being a professional career oriented woman in this day and age she practices abstinence from cooking (frankly, I wish I could use that as an excuse from cooking as well) or performing puja during the phase, it was the reference of 'She is in the corner' that enraged me.

In the corner??? What the hell does that mean?

"You got your 'monthly' on - so go in the corner now..."

And why on Earth would someone want make this so obvious to a 7 year old???!!! I've been writing about how our kids are growing too fast.... This kind of 'knowledge' sharing amongst young boys just makes it tougher to draw the lines at home.

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