Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Heart Hurts

It's hard to be a western woman here in Uganda. I struggle with figuring out when to take a stand on behalf of women here, and when to just respect the culture.

I understand gender roles here are very different. A woman's worth is, not always, but often, determined by her skills at cooking, keeping the house and her ability to "produce children" as they call it here. (Sounds like the woman is a factory)! I bristle with disdain when this topic comes up, but I generally keep my views to myself unless asked, becasue even the women accept these roles and as I see it, are not all that eager for the kind of liberation I would hope for them. So I respect them.

But when it comes to violence against women, which is unbelievably acceptable here, I get so damn angry, so very, very, angry. And then sad. So very, very, sad. You see, many of my closest, dearest friends here are African. I adore them! But when the culture speaks through them, I just don't know how to proceed. How do I respoind to my brothers, talking about beating the wife they don't even have yet? How do I help my African sisters to be strong, self-confident women, without them experiencing cultural estrangement?

At times like this, I feel really alone. Because they don't understand where I'm coming from. And maybe they never will. But I want them to come to my side on this issue. There are lots of cultural things I can let them have, but this one thing, I cannot accept. And so I feel a rift forming, and it breaks my heart. I never wanted to be the "I know everything" westerner. And I don't want to be divided...will someone help me understand??

My heart hurts...