Friday, June 03, 2005

Who's buying the Bagels?

I attended the Asian festival last weekend, and noticed a group of women doing Mehendi in the India pavillion.

Mehendi is the ancient art of henna body painting. The henna stains the skin, and the artwork lasts for about ten days.

Cool! Let's do it! (If it's good enough for Madonna, it's good enough for me.)
So, I stuck out my hand and a little pre pubesent girl in a sari began to doodle on my skin.

She made this long snaky swirl along my lifeline and added a few dots. I thought "Wow, there must be some good symbolism here."

Then, she put two swastickas on either side of the snaky line. AUGGGH!!!!
I thought, "now just wait. Be patient. This is an artist at work here. She will add something to it any second...yup, any second now... any. second."

But she didn't. She was done and looking up at me with her innocent doe eyes, waiting for my thanks and approval.

"Um, do you know what this symbol is?" I whispered.
"It is a symbol for God." She said proudly.
Her mother looked at my hand, and then at me.
"It's also a symbol for something else."
Her mother said something to her daughter in their native tongue.

I grabbed a napkin and tried to wipe it off, but the stain was set.


I walked away, rubbing my palm till it was raw, knowing that the poor little thing in the sari was about to get a lesson in world history from her mother.

Alas, innocence lost.

Meanwhile, I won't be buying the bagels this week. Posted by Hello


antlered girl said...

a reply to the rant you left on my blog:
I definitely don't want to hear about your polyps. The point is not to force anyone to speak about anything he or she doesn't want to speak about. Rather, the film broaches a taboo subject, and most women's experience with it is of a different sort of enforcement--that of silencing. Every leap forward for reproductive freedom began with women speaking openly about their abortions, refusing to be ashamed and guilted for them. It's incredibly important that the complexity of women's different experiences is shown because it rectifies the mythology around abortion--that women go off casually and have abortions, or that it's sexual, or that it only happens to bad, irresponsible girls. None of this is true. An illustrative example: the film screened at the Fargo Film Festival in Fargo North Dakota and there were protestors inside and out. One young pastor, after seeing the film, stood up and apologized to his fellow pro-lifers in the audience, saying the film had really changed him and that though he had come to protest the film he'd never feel the same about the procedure again. He thought that careless women were going off and having wild unprotected sex and having abortions repeatedly as birth control for the careless. If you know anyone who's told you about their abortion you realize that this assumption is completely insane and is really getting at the wrong points--that because of the complexities of each case it's incredibly important to defend every woman's right to an abortion under whatever circumstances she faces. Speaking out about the need for this right makes that demand real and human. So, please don't feel pushed to speak about your experience, but please don't censor others in this important work.

antlered girl said...

thanks for responding. sorry to be so on the defensive!

Kelley Bell said...

FYI to anyone who happens across these comments:

Antlered girls is not refering to my bagels post.

She and I were having a discussion about abortion over on her site.

Feel free to cick on her name and join the discussion.

HawkOwl said...

I'm finding less and less people who think swastikas are evil. For that matter, I'm finding less and less people who care about swastikas either way. I think it's because I don't hang out with intellectuals anymore. Today our conversation at work was more "lots of bald eagles this year." "Yeah. That song Convoy is on the radio." "Yeah."

HawkOwl said...

Oh. I should mention that we don't really have much of a Jewish population here. That might be part of the difference.