Carol Barron of Dublin City University told me this story at The Association for the Study of Play annual conference a few weeks ago:
When she was a nurse working in a middle eastern country a few years ago, she was married and yet had no children. The first wives would bring their children in to be examined, and bring the third or fourth wife along to. They would ask her if she was married, then if she had children, and when she said no they would be sad and cluck their tongues and say “oh, so sad, no children, no children.”
The Muslim women were not allowed to take birth control, yet birth control pills was still sold in their country for the non-Muslims. And when the first wives would wander off, the third or fourth wife would pull birth control pills from under their berqua and whisper “no children, children” with a smile.
The fact that these women were able to subvert their culture like this first without getting caught and second without any real concern of getting caught fascinated me. I’d love to hear more from other people who have heard or seen similar experiences of subversion of oppressive culture in this way.