Jacinta prided herself in being unmoved by tribal discrimination, especially since her parents were not shy to air their controversial views. But then she was confronted with a problem that exposed her bias – an uncircumcised penis.
“It’s either us or them" or "Those people will destroy us if they get the chance". Statements like these were very common in our house when I was growing up. In fact, those are some of the tamer things my parents said. When I was younger, it never made sense why my parents never wanted me to play with so-and-so’s kids. I mean, we were all just having a good time. What was the big deal?
When I got older I came to understood what my parents had and continued to do. I hated them for it. These were people who went to university, people who religiously went to church, worked in multicultural workplaces and lived in multicultural neighbourhoods. I was angry that they would try to pass on such backward views to their child. I resolved to be better than that, better than them.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
I got my first boyfriend when I was in campus. He was a good guy, always doing something sweet for me. But he was one of "those guys", as my parents would’ve said. I thought about how my parents would react if the time came to introduce him to them. Since I wasn’t that eager to kill this, I put that thought away for if the time came.
We talked a lot about our different backgrounds, and we both realised that our parents were very tribal. My boyfriend’s parents were even more extreme than mine, though. Associating with ‘the others’ was seen as talking to the enemy, and it had drastic results. His sister had been shipped off when they found out she was pregnant by one of ‘those guys’. He hated them for it, but there was little he could do.
THE BIG REVEAL
My boyfriend and I were intimate, and it was his insistence that we use protection. Given the stories I had heard from my friends about STDs and pregnancy scares, I was grateful that he was that responsible. It saved us from a hell of a lot of arguments. I wasn’t really into giving oral sex as well, which he seemed to take with good humour. I remember one time after we had had sex, he got up to go shower so he could head to class. That’s the first time that I noticed that he wasn’t circumcised.
My heart dropped to my toes. How could I just be noticing this? We had been together for a while, and sexually active for half that time. Then I swear I heard my mother’s voice in my head: "You see, this is what happens with those people."
I remember being angry and scared that this was such a big deal to me. I wanted to run away. I knew that this was the last time I would sleep with my then boyfriend. I was ashamed that I, who had tried to be so different from my parents, had ended up just the same as them. I guess I still have a long way to go.