Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Broad Changes: Women of Social Justice

Fiber Artists for Hope is delighted to announce preparations for our next show, to be called Broad Changes: Women of Social Justice.  The organizing committee explains it this way:  the word "broad" is a feisty reference to women and, combined with "changes," it makes a nice double meaning since broad changes can also simply mean big changes.  Each artist will choose a woman or group of women working for social justice about whom to make a piece.

Cirumcision of Isaac
The circumcision of Isaac
Altar of Verdun, 12th century
I am so excited about this topic; the enthusiasm coming from my sister artists is exhilarating!  I plan to blog occasionally about the making of my piece.  It will be about my daughter who, at age 11, isn't exactly a woman, but is awakening to issues of social justice.  Here is the story:

One night my daughter was working on her religion homework, which focused on the Abraham and Isaac story.  She looked up and asked, "Mom, what's circumcision?" I cleared my throat a few times before giving her a very succinct, straightforward answer.  Subject closed?  Ha! You've never met my daughter.

A few minutes later she asked, "They don't do anything like that to girls, do they?"  Deep breaths.  My choices were to either lie and distract her with ice cream, or have a very uncomfortable conversation.  I went with the uncomfortable conversation and presented the information as clinically as possible, with very little editorializing.  She was horrified.  Horrified and kind of freaked out.

Masai girls
She immediately wanted to know what we could do to end this practice.  We talked about building community support and about cultural sensitivity.  We emailed her teacher, who said she had never had a student ask about that.  She was glad though, that we had had a frank discussion, and offered to talk to my daughter about ways she could help; it turns out her teacher used to work with women fleeing this practice.

We sometimes think that children are only interested in themselves, but I think that sells them short.  This issue meant something to her because girls her age and younger are having this done to them.  Now that she is aware of this, she is deeply concerned about the welfare of girls she will probably never meet.

I am so proud of her.  I hope she likes the piece.

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