Uh, oh. Looks like anyone who takes Alf’s advice and protests against Te Papa for basing its policies on superstition could be in for a rough ride.
Chances are such champions of common sense and progress will suffer the same fate as Paul Henry, and be denounced as racists, or as culturally insensitive, or something.
Alf sounds this note of caution on learning that Margaret Mutu has got in on the act after the Dom Post revealed that pregnant or menstruating women are being discriminated against at Te Papa “for their own safety.”
She has gone out to bat for the idea that pregnant and menstruating women must be kept out of certain areas, which happen to include gardens and fishing grounds as well as Te Papa.
Alf – of course – takes great offence at any form of discrimination against pregnant women, because his mother was in that condition more than once. Mrs Grumble, was too.
And any suggestion women should not be allowed in the garden at certain times is ludicrous. If they can’t attend to important chores like weeding and digging the spuds, then the bloody garden will become unkempt unless Alf is dragged out of the Eketahuna Club to look after it, which would be be a serious inconvenience.
He is delighted to get support on the matter from a feminist blogger, Bogannette, who was contacted by the media for her opinions. She has expressed disgust at the museum’s stance.
She obviously was motivated by Alf’s post, because –
She said she would encourage women who are pregnant and menstruating to attend the event.
“Are they going to check to see if a woman is menstruating? A belief that there is something wrong with women if they are menstruating or pregnant is ridiculous. ”
“Te Papa is taxpayer funded. It’s a public museum that is supposed to be inclusive of everyone. Religious and cultural beliefs should be ignored if they’re going to insult or oppress women for any reason.”
At this point – in an update at Stuff – we learn that Margaret Mutu, head of Maori Studies at Auckland University, is saying women should not be offended by the museum’s request.
She is also saying a woman’s naughty bits are – ahem – well, “extremely powerful” and capable of doing much damage.
“The reproduction area is extremely powerful and can do damage to things that are not tapu. It’s about the power of women, not about stopping them.”
And she is a professor???
Alf has been poring through his medical encylopedia on this matter, but the authors must have been in the dark ages on this one, because they don’t mention it.
Mutu went on to say the museum objects were obviously dangerous and the hapu they came from would have told the museum about how to treat them.
“They are tapu and pregnant or menstruating women are tapu. It would be very unwise to put the two up against each other.”
Mutu said in her hapu, women were also prevented from going onto gardens or fishing areas while tapu.
Maggie is known to Alf as a very stroppy university professor.
But when it comes to matters of Maori mysticism (or belief system, if you prefer), she does not challenge the received wisdom. She becomes an apostle for it.
And so instead of marching boldly onwards into the 21st century, if we embrace these beliefs, our country is in serious danger of marching backwards.
UPDATE: Let’s hear it for Roarprawn, where Alf’s opinions have been expressed much more eloquently than he can manage (and by a muttonbird munching Maori miss, too).