September 06, 2006

"Just Relax" Goes Global!

I am editing a soon-to-be published book about health in Africa, and it has a chapter on traditional healers. The author includes a story from Nigeria:

The narrator had "a friend whose wife was having difficulty becoming pregnant." (Why not "a friend who was having difficulty getting his wife pregnant?" But I digress.) The couple had tried Western hospitals, with no luck, so finally they went to a traditional healer. The man spoke with them, then:

"[The healer] responded that there was nothing wrong with the couple. He proceeded to caution the wife that 'she worries too much' and needs some hot tea to help her relax...He also scheduled a weekly meeting with her for conversation. After the couple left, he asked...the husband to do all he can to keep the wife's mind at ease because 'she worries too much.'"

Now the happy couple has three children! And all it took was a cup of nice hot tea and a few deep breaths. I can't help but wonder if his "weekly conversations" with the woman were like my RE appointments--I show up the requested 15 minutes early, he is able to see me two hours later.

Looks like the misogynist patriarchy has gone international!

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