Sunday, 25 October 2009

To pierce or not to pierce...?

Over a week of hardly any internet access and so much I've missed to write about! The football! The Ghana@50 inquisition! The Ministry of Foreign Affairs fire! Thankfully Abena has summed up the week quite well. On a personal note I also managed to squeeze in a 2-night sleep in at my mother's in Tema.

Other than that, we (after all, where I go, baby goes) also made it to a funeral last Friday (sans bébé), a wedding last Saturday and another wedding yesterday. These social outings highlighted an irritating unspoken Ghanaian rule:

A baby can only be a girl here if she wears earrings! I had experienced this before, when everybody and anybody would say "what's his name?" or "what a sweet boy!" even though I'd be holding little M in her girly, often pink or purple dresses. But yesterday's experience was almost laughable.

Walking in to the reception of my Law School mate's wedding, another classmate greets me:
"Your baby is so cute, what's the name?"
"It's M".
"Oh, really? I actually have a client, a lady named M, but tell me is it usual to also call boys that?"
"No, she's a girl".
"Oh! I see...But, where are the earrings?!"

And that was just the start of the ridiculous afternoon. Every person who passed or greeted us reacted in the same way. I shouldn't be surprised, I myself don't wear earrings on a day-to-day basis and have received comments about that several times. Older lawyers in court will come up to me and (out of kindness) remind me that I've forgotten to put on earrings today, but I shouldn't worry, the judge will probably not notice that I am naked in the eyes of the court. (Since when are earrings part of a female lawyers court dress code?)

Since M was born, I have considered whether and if so, when to pierce her ears. After a while I settled on doing it around the age of three, and even then, it would be mainly to satisfy Ghanaian society, to make use of the many pretty earrings she has already received as presents and stop her potentially being bullied at school (lol!), as I couldn't care less, whether she goes earringless her whole life or not. But does that mean that I'm going to suffer the next two and a half years hearing these comments? Or the kinder, but equally annoying kind advice on where I can go to have her ears pierced (hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in case you're wondering), in case the problem is that I didnt' know where to find an earpiercer.

I just don't feel comfortable putting tiny earrings in my little girl's ears as she is of the hyper kind, pulls at everything she can hold on too and then puts it all in her mouth (this includes, my own earrings whenever I wear them). Funnily, in Sweden, there wouldn't be a question of her piercing her ears until she might want to do it, probably some time in her teens! What's your take on this strange culture clash?


Yngvild said...

I ssee your problem! :) When I attended secondary school in Ghana, I hadn't pierced my ears yet (did it at age 20! and love it..), and I was constantly asked if I was a 7th Day Adventist. Appearently they dont pierce their ears? Maybe you can convert? At least, sometimes that was my excuse to get the questions off my back. i think you are right with waiting now, cos she is big enough and active now, and might hurt herself with those earrings... I guess you either have to do it on babies when they are newborns and barely move, or wait till they are big enough to understand what to do with them! Good luck with all the annoying questions :-)

Maya Mame said...

Hm, maybe I'll just say she's 7th day adventist? It's either that or clip-ons at this point, lol!

Sankofa said...

Haha! This brought back some flashbacks of being in school. I remember when I first started my (mostly white, decidedly non-Ghanaian) secondary school and everybody being horrified that I'd had pierced ears since I was a baby. They were all waiting till they were 16 so they could get them done w/out their parents' permission.

The way I see it? Your baby, your decision. The things we would do if we were slave to all of Ghana's idiosyncrasies...

Maya Mame said...

Sankofa, you've just reminded me of my own school years! I too had that experience, at times I think people would've been less shocked if I said I was beaten at home, than they were to find out my ears were pierced at the age of three!

Maybe the next time some one comments on it I'll just say "yes She's a boy"!

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Just stand your ground, Maya. She's your daughter, so you decide now. And then, when she's older, she'll decided herself. Don't change to suit the majority insensitive.

Nsoromma...Child of the Heavens said...

KMT! Are our people not annoying! Instead of being worried (or happy) about the good health of your boy they r talking piercings! Can u imagine if you had a boy and pierced his ears at birth (I know quite a few baby boys with pierced ears here in the UK), wow the furore! Your concern is your child's safety if that is best served by a lack of earrings do what you're doing. Forget them! I salute you!

Maya Mame said...

I'm taking your advice, Nana Yaw. Thanks!

Maya Mame said...

Thanks Nsoromma!

Kajsa Hallberg Adu said...

Isn't it interesting through that in Ghana bows and pink/purple/red clothing is not necessarily girlish. Somehow I like that.

If I ever have a girl I know I will have the same piercing "problem" :-)

Maya Mame said...

I know, Kajsa, at least that's positive, even a pink dress won't make people assume it's a girl!

amyswor said...

Was searching for another GF's blog and came across your interesting one. Read about your dilemma of whether or not not pierce Maya's ears.

Just wanted to share with you little girls often have their ears pierced in the hospital before they leave if the mom wants it done.

I don't know whether or not the culture in Ghana is different or not, but earrings in little girls signify they are loved by their family and not just gender identification.

My abuela told me when I was little that it is considered a sign of love and devotion to a baby girl to have her ears pierced as a newborn. Often little gold balls or red stones are inserted soon after the piercing to show the baby girl is loved in a male dominated culture.

I think it is a nice tradition to have newborns/infants ears pierced to show they are loved by all, don't you.

There is really no problem finding someone to pierce infants ears. They even have baby ear piercing kits made for newborns and infants. If you change your mind, let me know if I can help you find one.


Maya Mame said...

Wow, thanks Amyswor, showing love in that way sounds so much better than using earrings for gender identification, I'll have to find out if that's the original reason here too.

I've also been told that I can get her ears pierced just about everywhere, but for now, I'm waiting a while.

Anonymous said...

My baby girl grew up in Ghana and I didn't pierce her ears. EVERYONE of course though she was a boy. Baby girl at 3 years in the frostiest frilliest pink dress complemented with shiny black mary janes and I walking down the street "How old is your boy?" calls the taxi driver "Uncle please look the dress, is girl" "No earrings" says he. At four baby girl asked me to get her ears pierced as she was tired of everyone calling her a boy. She wore them long enough for the piercing to take and then never wore them now at 8 she still never wears them. Wait it out and let your your girl decide when she is older. The questions are irritating yet also in some circumstances insanely funny. Aishamummy


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