Tuesday, October 12, 2010

No Womanly Ways At Te Papa

Museum of NZ...it's for EVERYONE!Astounding news from the Museum of New Zealand (y'know, the one in Wellington with the token indigenous name?).
Te Papa is advising pregnant or menstruating women against attending one of its tours "for their own safety." WTF???
An invitation for regional museum staff to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of Te Papa next month includes the condition that women who are either pregnant or menstruating are unable to attend. The museum says the policy is because of maori beliefs surrounding the maori collection included in the tour.
There are items in the collection that have been used in sacred maori rituals. Their belief holds that each item contains its own spirit, and that pregnant women are sacred and should be protected from those spirits. Te Papa insists the request is not an outright ban: "If there are pregnant women who want to go on the tour we won't stop them. But we do prefer they respect the belief."
The policy will not be in place when the exhibition opens for the public...and I should think not! I'm stunned this policy has been condoned at all! Can't help but wonder what magic wand will be waved to make these spirit-possessed items miraculously ok for viewing by pregnant women in the public exhibition, but not behind-the-scenes!
I don't have an issue with any culture adhering to their own beliefs, but to impose them upon others - especially concerning such a personal aspect of womanhood - is gobsmacking! And also, let's not forget this is a taxpayer-funded public museum for everyone of any culture to fully enjoy.
What might be next? An area of a museum containing artifacts from - say - Egypt, that's closed to anyone not Egyptian? A display of condoms from the last few centuries that can only be seen by men? Ceremonial church robes that are out of bounds to agnostics?
Part of being in a multi-cultural society is respect for all cultures without imposing one over the other. Whoever authorised this condition has gone way too far!
PS: 15 October 2010 - A Nelson Mail editorial sums this up rather well...


SBT said...

Another example of a cultural clash being artificially created by someone being so bloody politically coorect.This is the sort of thing that just forces more rifts between maori and whites.

Anonymous said...

The maori are saying this is part of their culture and that when maori women are pregnant or menstruating, they're not allowed in the vegetable garden or in the kitchen. Ha! I guess that's way sales of KFC do so well coz i really can't see too many maori men working inb the kitchen!!!