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#794: RE:women's culture in Haiti/fertility and parenting: Hermantin comments

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

I can only presume that issues such as fertility, pregnancy, child rearing 
are  perceived and experienced differently by women depending on their 
social status, level of education,religious beliefs and access to medical 

While I believe that class identity predisposes women to think along the 
same lines, I also suspect that there are many ways in which gender is 
"universally" constructed (that should be the subject of a doctoral 
dissertation). It seems that the one crucial factor which defines womanhood 
is the ability to bear children. A woman's sexuality also hinges on having 
all her reproductive organs intact. FOr example,a woman who has had a 
hysterectomy "pa fanm enko".

As far a breastfeeding is concerned, while I cannot comment on the practice 
among Haitian women living in Haiti, I can safely say that it is not very 
popular here in the States. The folks at La Leche and WIC in South Florida 
are having a hard time encouraging Haitian women to nurse their children. 
While I dutifully nursed my children, this practice was not very well viewed 
by members of the family who felt that breastmilk was God's gift to poor 
women unable to purchase formula.

I will not even touch the issue of child rearing since it is such a 
complicated one.  As administrator of a social service agency, I come in 
daily contact with parents who have to take mandatory parenting classes 
because of allegations of abusive behavior. I really feel sorry for them.  
While there is no doubt in my mind that they love their children. Hitting, 
spanking and sometimes biting are the preferred modes of discipline.  The 
problem is that they really have a hard time understanding that alternative 
methods are more effective.

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