Today's example: Didgeridoos. You know, didgeridoos. A publisher in Australia came out with a book called The Daring Book for Girls encouraging girls to do various things that I guess are "daring" in the context of a culture that still encourages most of them to play with bright plastic dolls. In a not to multiculturalism, one of the things girls were encouraged to do is to learn to play the Didgeridoo, an Australian aboriginal instrument.
But the general manager of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, Dr Mark Rose, says the publishers have committed a major faux pas by including a didgeridoo lesson for girls.
Dr Rose says the didgeridoo is a man's instrument and touching it could make girls infertile, and has called for the book to be pulped.
. . .
I would say from an Indigenous perspective, an extreme mistake, but part of a general ignorance that mainstream Australia has about Aboriginal culture," he said. "We know very clearly that there is a range of consequences for females touching a didgeridoo, it's men's business, and in the girls book, instructions on how to use it, for us it is an extreme cultural indiscretion."
Dr Rose says the consequences for a girl touching a didgeridoo can be quite extreme.
"It would vary in the places where it is, infertility would be the start of it ranging to other consequences," he said. "I won't even let my daughter touch one…. as cultural respect. And we know it's men's business. "In our times there are men's business and women's business, and the didgeridoo is definitely a men's business ceremonial tool."
Leave aside, for a moment, whether multiculturalism should compel us to respect views that noisy hollow sticks are magic. Why should we respect the sentiment that girls should not play the didgeridoo? Just because it comes from another culture, which we are bound to respect under the rubric of multiculturalism? We wouldn't respect a sentiment from our culture that girls shouldn't do something because it is unfeminine or a province for boys or something. To be perfectly blunt, why should I respect sexism just because it's dressed up in some foreigner's funny hat?
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