Monk See, Monk Please Don't Do
A photo of a serene-looking, peaceful, orange-robed monk walking down a road in Southeast Asia somewhere. It's a picture that has ended up in the albums and picture files of thousands of travelers over the years. Much like Mother Theresa, these seemingly docile gentlemen can sometimes have an outward appearance that conflicts greatly with their actual beliefs and actions.
Monks in Burma are reacting more like our simian cousins than fellow humans with respect to the struggle of women in that country to have basic sex education and control of their lives. These are, obviously, extremist religious zealots who are trying to pass family planning laws to restrict the population growth of the Muslim community there because they are scared of a minority becoming a majority. Or they're just xenophobic. I'd put what little money I have (and I'd borrow a lot more) on the latter.
Funny story: There's no word for "vagina" in Burmese. Check this out -
The only “polite” term available for women who want or need to refer to that part of their anatomy translates as “woman’s body”So, imagine being a woman with a health issue regarding that particular part of their anatomy and trying to describe it to a doctor, who also can't speak with any real precision.
Patient - "My body hurts."
Doctor - "Oh really? What seems to be the problem?"
Px - "Well, my body. My *lower* body. It hurts."
Dx - "Oh...um...is it...uh.... Oh, I'm sorry, I'm getting an urgent page to go...over there."
There is a passage in that Guardian article that sort of sums up what this is about, so I'll just quote it in full here:
Garments that have come into close contact with a woman’s lower half, such as the traditional htamein (a wraparound skirt worn by most women in Myanmar) or underpants, are considered unclean, even after they have been washed. They are also believed to have the ability to rob men of their hpoun – a concept that could roughly be translated as “masculine power”.Perhaps I'm juvenile (Ok, we don't really have to suppose), but it makes me laugh that clothing in close proximity to a woman's vagina is thought to rob men of something pronounced, "poon". Weird that ideas like this come from a religion, I know. It's so rare that thought-cages espousing on-going lives and beliefs in power-stealing clothing would promote discrimination against women and minorities. Hm. Must be a one-off.
If you have a second, the Akhaya Women are doing good work in Burma trying to get women autonomy over their bodies and some semblance of respect in society. Oh, and get a damn word for vagina...just please don't go with, "va-jayjay".