|By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 01, 2003 - 7:39 pm: Edit Post|
All for the Breast by Botswana RPCV Rebecca Crowley
All for the Breast by Botswana RPCV Rebecca Crowley
All for the Breast
By Rebecca Crowley
Breast-feeding in rural Botswana
Attorney General John Ashcroft should stay away from Botswana. Anyone who is offended by the sight of a harried mother furtively lifting her shirt in order to give her screaming baby his morning meal should by all means choose another country for his or her annual holiday. For most Batswana women see nothing indecent, or even remotely sexual, in the exposure of their mammary glands. Not only is public breast feeding as ubiquitous as the tiny brown babies who contentedly lap their mother's milk, but in rural areas, it is not uncommon to see a bra-less young girl working in the field with her shirt open or even off. In fact, a rather buxom fellow Peace Corps Volunteer once admitted that she too had taken to performing her household chores topless, a habit that must alternatively delight and scandalize her neighbors in the Midwestern city that she now calls home.
My first "exposure" to the Motswana attitude towards breasts came during a stint of teacher training performed at one of the larger secondary schools in Gaborone (Botswana's capital). While attempting to explain the division of fractions to a room full of sweaty teenagers, I noticed that one girl had unbuttoned her shirt down to the navel. Of course the room was almost unbearably hot, due to the 110 degree temperature outside, the lack of air conditioning, and the presence of forty five young adults in a room built for twenty, but I still thought that she was going a bit too far. So I stopped my droning lecture and approached this young lady, who looked at me with large, frightened eyes as I stared down at her cleavage (she was not wearing a bra, as such luxuries were too expensive for most young women). As my eyes traveled up to her shy face, it dawned on me that she was trying neither to be provocative nor rebellious, and that the exposure of her chest was merely an attempt to stay cool. So, feeling altogether foolish, I quietly asked her to button her shirt up a little more, a request that was immediately obeyed, and I returned to my lecture.
Because I had been looking at female breasts on a daily basis since the age of ten or eleven, it was easy for me to accept this peculiarity of the countrywomen of Botswana and get on with my life. However, for some male volunteers from Western countries, it was difficult to get used to the sight of a part of the female body reserved for porno magazines and National Geographic. Although the overwhelming majority of Western men were eventually able to teach a room of open-shirted adolescent girls without batting an eye, a few of them could not get past their American attitudes towards bare bosoms. And in one instance, this led to behavior that can only be called depraved.
During my time in Botswana, I befriended a stunning African woman named Matilda. All of my male volunteer friends asked me for an introduction at least once, but had been so smitten with Matilda's looks that their social skills had fled the moment she said hello. So there was nothing unusual in the amount of attention we received from an American teacher at a party that we attended one evening in the capital city of Gaborone. This man was vaguely charming in a geeky sort of way, and insisted on escorting us back to Matilda's house at the end of the night. And although she gave him no reason to do so, he paid her a visit the next day, long after I had left for my village. He showed her an expensive camera that he just happened to have with him, and told her that he would like to take some pictures of her to enter in a photography contest. She may have found this request odd, but since she knew that Peace Corps volunteers were decent people, she agreed to the photo shoot. He took a few photos of her in the entrance to her one-room home, but soon asked her to move because the light was better by the bed. Then he said that the picture would look better if she undid her top and showed him her breasts, for purely artistic reasons of course. Luckily, Matilda was no fool, so she let the photographer know that if he didn't get out of her house that very minute she would scream for the landlord, who was an obese Afrikaaner with an extensive firearm collection. Unfortunately Matilda did not tell me of this visit until after the volunteer had returned to the US.
I later found out that this teacher/photographer had taken many pictures of young Batswana ladies, most of whom were neither as knowledgeable of Western ways nor as advanced in age as twenty-two year-old Matilda. In fact, he had managed to assemble an entire photo album filled with pictures of topless young women, who would undoubtedly have been horrified to discover that they had become unwitting stars in a personal pornography collection. And it would have been so very easy for him to take these pictures, especially since he could ask his students to stop by for a visit after class (for help with homework, extra assignments, etc.). He would have taken them into his home in the village, apologized for the stuffiness of his rondavel, and told them that it would be fine if they wanted to shed their shirts or unbutton their blouses. Of course the girls would have displayed their chests without a thought, and our perverted educator would have been able to capture their young breasts on film. (Note: I believe that the Peace Corps found out about these photos somehow and immediately terminated this man's tour of duty. And hopefully confiscated his albums.)
American teachers were not the only people in Southern Africa who had unusual ideas about breasts. Because my school was so close to the South African border, my colleagues often brought in South African magazines to be read in the staff room between classes. One day, I saw a group of male teachers giggling in the corner, and went over to investigate. They were loath to let me see what was inducing this hysteria, and told me that it was not for the eyes of ladies. One of my women colleagues sighed, strode over, and ripped the magazine out of their hands. There on the page looking up at us was a topless white woman with stars over her nipples.
During the apartheid era, the South African government, in its attempt to force “decency” on its citizens, took a very harsh view of pornographic photos and books. However, because the white men of South Africa demanded some sort of nudie literature, “naughty” magazines were published featuring topless women whose nipples were obscured by the censor's white stars. Not only were these dirty pictures less provocative than the sight of bikini-clad white women getting skin cancer at Plettenburg Bay, but the articles were as inane as the prose in a typical issue of Tiger Beat. However, despite these shortcomings, the censored porno magazines were immensely popular.
What I found so ironic about the existence of these magazines was that black South African women were as unconcerned about breast exposure as their cousins to the north (most Batswana people live in South Africa). So white South African men were paying several rand of their hard-earned savings to purchase magazines in which women's breasts were obscured with stars, when right in front of them, women were exposing their bosoms every day. This reminds me slightly of America in the 50's when it was acceptable to view topless women of color in National Geographic, but smutty and sinful to look at their white counterparts posing for Playboy magazine. Granted, the women in National Geographic were not posing for pornographic photos, but this distinction was lost on a generation of adolescent American boys who snuck their parent's natural history magazines into bed with them.
Since returning to the US, I have read articles about town councils in America who try to ban public breast-feeding, and wonder what the Batswana women would think of such a law or of the "breasts are indecent" rationale behind the legislation. They would probably wonder how a country that allowed women to walk around in short shorts could possibly find anything wrong with breast-feeding. For in Botswana, the exposure of thighs was considered improper, and any woman who would walk around showing her upper legs would undoubtedly come to a bad end. So if you meet an African visiting the US who is a bit embarrassed when he sees a woman in shorts, just think of how you would feel if the same women showed you her breasts.
|By R.D. WOOD on Sunday, May 04, 2003 - 10:51 am: Edit Post|
"The WOOD / CROWLEY / STRONG Connection"
Take a look at the new page at URL: http://home.yebo.co.za/~salbu/aWood/AnnalsOfNatal_Wood6.html
|By ARTHUR PAUL CROWLEY (pool-71-114-138-82.hrbgpa.dsl-w.verizon.net - 220.127.116.11) on Thursday, November 09, 2006 - 6:24 pm: Edit Post|
PLEASE POST ON BULLETIN BOARD AND FORWARD TO THE CORRECT PARTY: CROWLEY/MCKEEVER/DITMAN etc.
MY NAME IS ARTHUR PAUL CROWLEY AND I AM ATTEMPTING TO FIND MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY. AT 18 MONTHS, MY MOTHER AND FATHER LEFT ME WITH MY GRANDMOTHER AND NEVER RETURNED. I AM NOT FILLED WITH ANGER OR ACCUSING QUESTIONS . I JUST WANT A FEW PICTURES AND TO SAY HELLO TO A FAMILY THAT I ‘VE NEVER MET.
MY MOTHER:JUNE CROWLEY nee. MCKEEVER..RACE:WHITE.DOB 1934+/-. BIRTH PLACE: PENNSYLVANIA.USA. LAST KNOWN ADDRESS: 2210 EUTAW ST. APT 17. BALTIMORE, MD. MOTHER’S NAME: BLANCH ???
MY FATHER: PAUL WILLIAM CROWLEY, RACE: WHITE. DOB: 1925 +/-.
BIRTH PLACE: BALTIMORE, MD.USA. LAST KNOWN ADDRESS: 2210 EUTAH ST, BALTIMORE, MD.USA.ALSO LIVED IN: ATLANTIC CITY, NJ.USA.
MY FATHER’S MOTHER: ZETA CROWLEY, DOB: CIRCA 1890. LIVED IN BROOKLYN’ SOUTH BALTIMORE, MD USA (A GOOD PART OF HER LIFE).
MY GRANDFATHER: WILLIAM CROWLEY. WW II. NAVY VET USA. MEMBER OF THE MARYLAND YACHT CLUB, USA.
MY FATHER’S BROTHER: ARTHUR CROWLEY, DOB??? LIVED FOR A WHILE AT: 6605 WINDSOR MILL RD.WOODLAWN, MARYLAND, USA. WIFE: LOUSIE CROWLEY nee???
MY FATHER’S SISTER: EMILY, DITMAN nee CROWLEY. DOB circa 1915???
HUSBAND: WILLIAM (WINNIE) F DITMAN. ADDRESS: 6605 WINDSOR MILL RD, WOODLAWN, MARYLAND USA. WORKED FOR BLACK LABLE BEER, BALTIMORE MD. BILL + EMILY DITMAN HAD THREE CHILDREN:
SON: PAUL (STANLEY) DITMAN. PASSED AWAY JUNE - 1995. GRADUATED FROM A CHRISTIAN COLLEGE IN CHATTANOOGA TENN. US- ARMY, VIET NAM VET. 1980 FORMED: GOOD NEWS FOR LITTLE PEOPLE, inc. (A BAPTIST MINISTRY BASED IN TN. USA). WIFE: LINDA DITMAN
DAUGHTER: EILEEN HASTINGS nee DITMAN. WHO MARRIED RICHARD HASTINGS AND MOVED TO CALIFORNIA. HAD DAUGHTER NAMED NOEL HASTINGS.
SON: WILLIAM DITMAN WORKED IN WASHINGTON DC, SCIENTIFIC BACKGROUND.
PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN OR FORWARD THIS REQUEST TO A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER. WHO MAY DO GENEALOGY LIST. THANK YOU!!!!!!
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