Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Okay, let's talk Te Papa

You've probably been aware of it if you've gone anywhere near Stuff, the basic being Pregnant women warned off Te Papa tour.

Firstly, let's get the set up clear: There is an invitational only event to view the taonga Maori collection, and pregnant and menstruating women are asked not to come. They are NOT banned from coming. They are given the option of coming on the tour some later time when they are not in that situation. Some times there are situations in which pregnant or menstruating women would be in danger...

However, let us examine why. Such women are considered "sacred". They need to be protected from the wairua, which are spirits which are in the taonga (which are there due to the energy of the creation)., what?

Really? There are spirits inside objects, and they could harm women who are in certain conditions? ... really? Can you prove this? Can they be measured in some way? Can they be shown to exist in some way that does not rely on belief and "because I know it is there" or "I can feel it"?

[One person in the comments said that such items were used in blood rituals and not washed, so could be infected, and... what? Only certain women can be subsequently infected? How? I'm having a hard time believing these objects are going to be hand held, and even then, only a small criteria of women could be at risk? Seriously?]

Even if... even """IF""" this was remotely true, this condition is only in place for the invitational event. There are no conditions on the general exhibition. So the spirits aren't interested if there are groups of people around? Are they shy? Te Papa feels the need to warn women in one situation, but not in a situation where there will be far more people? (I'll let someone else have fun considering potential legal ramifications.)

To be honest, in many ways, I'd respect them more if there wasn't this reason for this condition. If it was just "this is the way we do things", fine, cultural beliefs, etc... But to say "this is because of X", when there is zero evidence for such...

Some women will stay away because of this. (Judging from the article, more people will stay away because they don't like the policy in the first place.) But some women will stay away because they don't want to put their lives (or the lives of their fetuses) at risk.

Cultural beliefs are one thing. Cultural beliefs that claim "don't do this or you will die" deserve to be challenged. I call shenanigans.

ETA: Follow up article.


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