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#794: RE:women's culture in Haiti/fertility and parenting: Hermantin comments
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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