The women of Mae Hong Son, Thailand continue to partake of a custom initiated by the men hundreds of years ago. According to our guide, this custom was initiated so that the men can hear when their women sexually stray. These resplendent, “kissed by the sun” women appear so strong and proud, in spite of the appearance of discomfort. At the age of eight years, young girls are forced to don thick brass coils around the neck. The coils increase in number as the girls mature. Some also don brass coils around the legs and arms. (The long neck appearance is really an illusion for it is the rib cage that is stretched). Resplendent with the aura of discomfort, the women dart glances of wisdom. They profit from their discomfort, accept tourist donations, then construct schools for their children.
This small village of Mae Hong Son, has been popularized by these “Long-Necked” or “Giraffe Women”. It is an hour’s flight from Chiang Miao, Thailand. An additional scenic boat ride exposes you to hearty elephants on each side of the river bathing in mud and wallowing in lazy pleasure. A female elephant just did her best to save an infant elephant from being swept away in the strong current of the river. She enwrapped her trunk around the stomach of the baby elephant and assisted until the infant regained its balance. Mother instinct…
During our visit to Mae Hong Son, our daughter delightfully shared a song for the school children. A few lyrics from Anastasia, “I’m outta love, set me free, let me out of this misery”….very ironic to the backdrop of girls with necks wrapped in brass coils. I was also thrown back in time, and reflected on a memory from a previous visit to Senegal, Africa. Our Senegalese guide recommended a restaurant and mentioned that his cousin would join us. His cousin came, we were introduced and we ordered. As I had recently participated in a workshop in Zürich, Switzerland, concerning the clitoral circumcision of women of Muslim faith, I tactfully offered the subject on the table during lunch. The guide’s Senegalese cousin chuckled, and responded, “’One man can not sexually satisfy five women. The clitoris is cut away so that the women can not feel. Therefore, the men don’t become worn out by trying to satisfy so many partners. And the women, by custom, remain in this polygamy'”. He ended the conversation with another chuckle. I could not finish my salad.
Our daughter’s piercing soprano reeled me back to the time at hand. …”How many times you have let me down, come on be a man about it you’ll survive sure that you can work it out alright, Yesterday don’t you know, you were afraid to let me go…I’m outta love, set me free!” How many times do women shift into forward gear for the long haul even after it is way past time for the exit?
We are attuned to God whispers(we are given clues that things are just not right). We are even aware when God throws a stone…that might transpire as an illness, an accident, unemployment, constant conflict, etcetera.
The women of Mae Hong Song wear the coils, collect the coins and build schools for their children. The image of the mother elephant standing strong and firm wrapping her trunk around the unsteady baby elephant is an imprint that will not leave my medulla oblongata………It is about survival. The female does what she has to do when she has to do it, as long as she has to do it……. then she proceeds.
Have you ever shifted into forward for the long haul even though signs told you to exit?