Spontaneous laughter is embarrassing. Unfortunately, it is also a condition of which I am extreme prone. For example, right now in the middle of this crowded cybercafÃ© while I read all the responses to my previous post. At least I’m not laughing at Absolutely Nothing, like I usually am. It’s terribly awkward and unfortunate.
The other day I cracked myself up in my courtyard, and laughed helplessly against the wall for about five minutes before I could explain that I was laughing at my mother’s response to my threat that I might live in a cardboard box outside the library. (For reference, all she did was make a disclaimer that I would NOT, in fact, be living in a box. Funny?? Uhm, not really.) My family already thinks I’m weird enough.
Actually, in a funny contrast to my last post, my family calls me jigÃ©en (girl/woman) fairly frequently. The context of this is that I have good “womanly skills” and/or would “make a good wife”. There are many possible political explanations of this statement, but I’ll leave it at one comment for now.
My family is well-educated, particularly for SÃ©nÃ©gal. There are at least three doctors in the family, and everyone gets a higher education. There is a daughter living in the states, and many of the grandchildren aspire to studying there through exchange programs. My mother has hosted students for more than ten years. Through pursuit of education and spending time with students, they have a better understanding of Western culture than many (example: Taxi Driver).
They also have a broader idea of the meaning of “women’s roles”. When my family makes this type of statement they do not mean for a moment that being a “good wife” should be a woman’s only aspiration in life. It is a comment on basic cultural values and an approval of my interest in fiber arts, personal values, and pursuit of education.
Does it send shivers of righteous indignation down my spine just the same?? Uhm, YES. After a Western feminist upbringing, you never *quite* get used to it.