Contraception across Cultures: Technologies, Choices, Constraints

By Andrew Russell; Elisa J. Sobo et al. | Go to book overview

7
New Reproductive Rights and
Wrongs in the Galilee 1
Rhoda Kanaaneh

Introduction

When I asked my old friend and classmate Fadia how some of the girls we had gone to school with were doing, she told me that many of them had married upon graduation and had several children. She called them primiteevim (a Hebrew word derived from the English word primitive). My elderly aunt who had nine children herself said that people today no longer have large families because life has ‘advanced’: ‘Before we didn't know anything. But now only those who are wild (mitwa'hsheen) keep on having a lot of children, living by their instincts.’ Another high-school acquaintance told me about her neighbours: ‘They never plan anything. They're like goats, like Barbarians, living by their instincts. They just give birth and throw the children out on the streets without thinking of how they are going to provide for them.’

‘Primitive; barbarian; irrational; we must advance’: these words have entered the vocabulary of Palestinians in the Galilee in profound ways. The modernisation/development discourse that constructs the ‘Third World’ as uncontrollably and irrationally over-reproductive and thus poor (Greenhalgh 1996), has been taken up by some people within that socalled Third World. It has infiltrated Palestinian day-to-day constructions of self and other. I argue that a new lens or social standard has emerged that of reproduction for assigning social value, negotiating relationships and envisioning progress. Using this measure, many Palestinians today describe other Palestinians of being just like the Third World wild, animalistic, herd-like, driven by their reproductive instincts, unable to control their reproduction, as opposed to themselves who are rational, cultured, civilized, who carefully plan their sex and reproduction and are advancing in the footsteps of the First World. Palestinians increasingly

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