Sunday, May 29, 2016
NOTHIN' BUT NET !
There's lots of news and things to post about relative to our ongoing battle with Apuron and the neo-cult, but permit me a brief break from that to comment on a discussion I found both disturbing and amusing, though really more amusing than disturbing.
There was a bit of a dust up on Facebook about the "pre-contact" Chamorro "fashion show" at FestPac last week which featured at least one mostly nude young woman who wore an "outfit" which gave new meaning to "Nothin' but net." LOL.
For those who don't know "Nothin' but net" refers to the perfect basketball shot where the ball passes through the hoop without hitting the back board or even touching the rim, "swooshing" through only the net. The young woman was pretty much covered with "nothing" but a "net" - a fish net.)
One of my daughters and a friend of hers got in on the discussion, both expressing their discomfort with the attempt to "re-imagine" pre-contact "lingerie," as it was said to be. And quite quickly, my daughter was accused of 1) applying her "post-contact" Catholic moral sense to a "pre-contact" cultural (albeit "imagined") reality, and 2) not being Chamorro, she was told she had no right to opine.
I had a good laugh at #2 since the guy chastising her non-Chamorro-ness had a very Spanish surname, making him probably more a descendant of the colonizers than any pre-contact Chamorros.
And #1 was even more ridiculous since neither my daughter nor her Chamorro friend ever mentioned Catholicism but simply expressed how the outfit (what there was of it) made them feel as women - being about the same age as the woman who was on display.
There were several other threads on the same issue bouncing around Facebook and Catholicism was getting quite a pounding. It was the usual stuff: all was idyllic until those evil missionaries showed up and forced the natives to wear clothes.
I'm not an expert on the history of Guam and Micronesia, but Fr. Eric Forbes is. In a comment, he noted that the nudity of the natives was not an issue for the early Catholic missionaries. In fact, it is still not an issue where nudity or partial nudity is still the norm. Fr. Eric noted that there are still women in Yap who come to Mass wearing only their hair (for a top) and no one thinks anything of it.
In general, the idea that Catholicism has a problem with nudity is a laugh. Walk into the Sistine Chapel where the popes are elected and the greatest painting ever painted has Adam's penis hanging out of the ceiling. LOL. Catholic art is resplendent with the naked human body. This is probably why the early Catholic missionaries to the Pacific had no problem with native nakedness and still don't.
Continuing with Fr. Eric's comment, he noted that it was the advent of Protestant missionaries to the Pacific in the 1800's which precipitated the "Mother Hubbard dress," as he termed it.
I hope to learn more about this in the near future, but here are a couple of passing thoughts.
"It's hot" is the usual reason given for "pre-contact" nudity. However, that doesn't explain why people in other "hot" places in the world wore clothes long before there were any European influences (India, Northern Africa, etc.).
Methinks Pacific island nudity had more to do with the absence of items that could be used for material. The islands had no large animals whose skins could be used for clothing, which is why most pre-contact "clothing" seems to have been made out of vegetation and shells. And let's face it, pandanus leaves make for some pretty hellaciously itchy underwear. I'm sure I'd have preferred to go naked too if that's all there was to wear!
It also appears that when private parts were covered, it was more for protection than anything else. A man running through the jungle with his "family plan" dangling loose is asking for trouble (and pain). It seemed wise to do what one could to cover that up...or at least keep it under control. (More LOL!)
And back to our "fashion show." Therein lies the real issue. I thought it rather hilarious that my daughter and her Chamorro friend were told to shut up and sit down by someone who championed a so-called pre-contact experience of culture - as if ancient Chamorro's had fashion shows. LOL!
The exposure of bare breasts or (even bared other parts) would have been quite acceptable in the re-presentation of a pre-contact ritual, dance, or re-enactment of a village scene.
However, the mostly naked young woman was NOT presented in a pre-contact cultural context, but in the very modern, very western, very post-contact context of a contemporary fashion show where models are presented as...well, "models," objects, paraded about in a completely non-real way for no other purpose other than to stimulate an audience and excite the eye.
Something tells me ancient Chamorro's didn't have time for fashion shows - and probably used fish nets for catching fish...not "lingerie."