Seen on Nothing to Do With Abroath
Original article: NZHerald
New Zealand museum bans pregnant women from attending exhibit
A clash of cultures over a rule forbidding pregnant or menstruating women to attend a Te Papa exhibit has been criticised by feminists. An invitation for regional museums to go on a behind-the-scenes tour of some of Te Papa’s collections included the condition that “wahine who are either hapu [pregnant] or mate wahine [menstruating]” were unable to attend.
Jane Keig, Te Papa spokeswoman, said the policy was in place because of Maori beliefs surrounding the Taonga Maori collection included in the tour. She said the rule was one of the terms Te Papa agreed to when they took the collection.“If a woman is pregnant or menstruating, they are tapu. Some of these taonga have been used in battle and to kill people. Pregnant women are sacred and the policy is in place to protect women from these objects.”
If an object is tapu it is “forbidden” and in Maori culture it is believed that if that tapu is not observed, something bad will happen. Women who plan to attend the tour on November 5 are expected to be honest about whether they are pregnant or menstruating as a sign of respect to Maori beliefs.
So the argument for keeping certain women out of the special tour is because the women are sacred, forbidden, and need to be protected. And if they do go on the tour, tapu will be violated and something bad will happen.
I have nothing to lose in this debate, so I don’t know if I would lie or not to get in. But if I was affected by this ban, I might. Or I might try to organize a boycott or protest. The group imposing the restrictions doesn’t have the right to insist that I respect their beliefs. They have a right to not let me see their private stuff, but do they have the right to open their collection to the public except for the people they don’t want to see it? This particular museum is a public institution that accepts public funding.
Does the owner of a private collection have a right to place restrictions on who gets to see it, even if they allow it to be displayed at a public institution?
If only I had a seestor with a concentration in museum studies…