We’ve developed a good rapport with some of the neighbour kids, and one of them who takes English classes and is always eager to practice comes in from time to time to speak with us.
Yesterday she came to talk to us about Women’s Day, but ended up revealing that really, equality between men and women was wrong, because it contradicted the Bible.
And, after a discussion about some of the odd things the Bible also promoted (and whether she also endorsed those), I had to reveal that not only did I believe the Bible was solely literature and not a dictum for how to live one’s life but that <gasp> I did not believe in God (about which she asked, surprisingly, if it was due to reading of Sartre).
I imagine the conversation would have ended more quickly had she not said that she pitied my soul and my ignorance and my eternity in hell, which incensed me to a heated conversation about the existence of God and about her blind reliance in everything she’d ever been told in Sunday school.
Things took a bit of a different turn, however, when she continued to proclaim that the proof of God’s existence was in my “provenance” on Earth.
Ever the biologist, I broached the subject of the real source of my life, only to discover that she had no idea about the reproductive system.
(How does she know about Sartre, and not about reproduction?)
More saddening, though, was her fear about the “irregularity” of her periods, because they didn’t come on the exact same day of every month.
I assured her that it was completely normal, but she seemed convinced of a fear of being pregnant. No one had ever explained to her the things we women in America take for granted.
When I queried her on whether she had ever had sex, she responded “no.”
No French I’ve ever undertaken has been quite so obscure or scientific as the explanations of the means of conception I tried to parse together, eventually resorting to diagrams of the female reproductive system.
But, when someone tells you that the fact that some women cannot produce breastmilk is evidence of God’s existence, you really just have to take control of matters!
(Though how, in retrospect, the word “breastmilk” in English was taught to them, I’ll never know)
Later, in privacy, she confided in me other questions, and was perplexed how people could not become pregnant if they were engaging in sexual activity.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when told she had never even HEARD of a condom, let alone any other method of birth control!
I remember in African Silences, Mathiessen’s complaints of Dian Fossey revolving around her insistence that a lot of problems in Africa could be solved by the introduction of condoms.
Harsh, maybe. But seriously, it’d be a start to instill a little education about the subject, at the very least!