Friday 6 May 2011


This week, Carmen over at Biomouse picked the word GYPSY.

This clip (I hope the embedding works - if not it can be viewed here and I should warn it has a little bit of bad language in it) is from a documentary about gypsy weddings. Recently there has been a six-part series of this documentary, following gypsy brides and looking at their culture and lifestyle in this country.

I found it FASCINATING. I could have watched double the number of episodes - it was so interesting to see into their communities a little bit. It was also really interesting to watch other people's reactions to what is evidently a very misogynistic society.

My reaction was somewhat different. There was a lot of disgust at the stereotyping of women, who are often expected to leave school very young to care for siblings, marry at 16 or 17 and dedicate their lives to cleaning their homes and raising children. I got a bit annoyed at the judgement.

Now, I feel like I have to pick my words carefully here because I don't want to seem as though I am condoning a society in which girls are forced out of school before they can read properly and where domestic violence cases are shockingly high. However! The judgements made in some cases got my back up, because they suggest, by proxy, that the "norm" is infinitely better. There are some positives to the way they live, not least the strong family bonds they build up. These young women also seem quite confident - more confident than a lot of girls I work with, some of whom I'm certain have been subject to something akin to "grabbing" themselves but quite probably given in for fear of being stigmatised for not giving in.

Anyway. Mr Z has just accused me of being on my soap box and since I could wax lyrical about this topic for pages I had better take the hint and stop ;)
The series certainly gave me lots to think about, in more ways than one. I can thoroughly recommend it. Watch out for one of my pupils who appears in the final episode, face pixelated out, tripping over a bride's dress outside a church! We have a fairly large number of traveller children at school. One of them had a full-on tattoo by the age of 13. He had a girlfriend in his class, too, but broke up with her pretty sharpish when he left school on his 16th birthday (with no qualifications - but he was the first generation of his family to stay that long so he didn't do badly). He is 19 now, and married. So, it's not just the women who don't get the choice.

Make sure you pop over to Carmen's blog to read the other entries this week and find out who'll be picking next week!


Carola Bartz said...

I think there are many different aspects to the "gypsy" life, and as is said in the video, we don't really know anything about it. The series sound very interesting and I can understand that you were fascinated by it. Gypsies mainly belong to my childhood memories. Thank you for your very interesting post!

John said...

What an interesting post, all the more so because of your personal experience of them.

Christine E-E said...

I'm so glad you are back with the WEEKWORD group! I've missed reading your posts!
I remember this movie... haven't seen it it so long...

Biomouse said...

First of all, I really meant to come by much sooner to tell you that I really enjoyed that show myself and loved your post about it. It was so good to hear the experience of seeing these people from someone who has actually met and known them, and I am in full agreement with you that there are special things about this tribe of people that cannot be just neatly bound up in just the concerns of gender equality, etc. Thank you for sharing a great post-totally missed you, and please be our next hostess?