January2007_June2007

Lecture International Womens Day, Mineke Schipper, Thursday March 8th

The Female Faculty Network Twente together with Studium Generale invites you for the International Women’s Day on 8th of March from 16:00 till 17:30 hrs. in building the Vrijhof, Amphitheater for the lecture:


Never marry a woman with big feet


with Prof. Mineke Schipper.

  

In cultures all over the globe, sex and gender issues have been expressed in proverbs, the world’s smallest literature genre. Mineke’s irresistible book provides revealing insights into the female condition across centuries and continents. She discovered surprisingly more similarities than differences in thousands of proverbs about women, originating from hundreds of languages and more than 150 countries. Those vivid and earthy proverbs reflect women’s phases of life: from girl to bride, to wife or co-wife; from mother to mother-in-law, widow to grandmother; the joys and sorrows of love, sex, and childbearing; women’s work, their talents, and their power.


It is an intriguing cross-cultural history of humanity, with bewildering views on men and women. It is a stunning and entertaining rough guide showing us how far both sexes have progressed on the road towards world citizenship where, in the words of a Tibetan proverb, ‘A hundred male and a hundred female qualities make a perfect human being’.


Please reply if you want to join this lecture by sending an e-mail to : FFNT@utwente.nl



Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet.

Wisdom about Women from Around the World


Mineke Schipper*


- A woman who loves her man says: ‘I look up to you. (Twi, Ghana)
- A dog is smarter than a woman: he does not bark against his boss. (Russian)

- A woman who knows Latin will never find a husband nor come to a good end. (All over Europe)
- Women ask questions, men give the answers. (Arabic)

- A man doesn’t want a woman smarter than he is. (English, USA)

- A man, even a man of small size, will be called great in comparison to women. (Arabic)

- A good woman goes without a head. (Dutch/Flemish)

- Wives and shoes are better when old. (Japanese)
- A woman's beauty makes fish sink and wild geese fall from the sky.  (Chinese)
- The name of the father is the secret of the mother. (Creole, Jamaica)

All women have in common the shape of their bodies and their bodily functions. And this holds no less for men. In cultures all over the globe, sex and gender issues have been expressed in the world's smallest poetic genre, the proverb. This oral wisdom is full of revealing insights into the male and female conditions across centuries and continents. Over the years Mineke Schipper collected and studied more than 15 000 proverbs and sayings about women from around the world. Those vivid and earthy proverbs reflect women's phases of life: from girl to bride, to wife or co-wife; from daughter to mother, mother-in-law, widow and grandmother; the joys and sorrows of love, sex, and childbearing; women's work, their talents, and their power. In spite of the many differences among cultures, those numerous tiny texts reveal some striking patterns in their ideas about men and women transmitted from generation to generation in hundreds of languages across the globe. The bewildering views of men and women in this intriguing cross-cultural ‘traditional’ history of humanity have to do with all of us.

Now that globalisation and migration interact with local realities in many ways, positively and negatively, it becomes highly rewarding to re-examine those various traditions of ‘wisdom’ together and cross-culturally. In order to define where we want to go, and where we do not want to go, as men and women today, we first of all need to know where we come from. How far have we progressed along the road of cosmopolitanism? Indeed, proverbs about gender can be examined as a stunning rough guide showing us to what extent both sexes have internalised and stick to their traditional gender roles until this very day. Or showing us how far we have moved into a new world of equal citizenship, along the lines of a popular Tibetan proverb: 'A hundred male and a hundred female qualities make a perfect human being.'


Mineke Schipper

* Mineke Schipper is professor of Intercultural Literary Studies at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands. She is the author of numerous academic books including Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet. Proverbs about Women from Around the World (Yale University Press 2004). This book has been or is being translated into many languages, including Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, German, Chinese, Arabic etc. Her third novel Vogel valt vogel vliegt will be published next month by Prometheus publishers in Amsterdam.