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young fishing girl

Young Fishing Girl

In cultures ranging from Ancient Greece to the 19th century United States, girls have been taught such essential domestic skills as sewing, cooking, gardening, and basic hygiene and medical care such as preparing balms and salves, and in some cases midwife skills. These skills would be taught from generation to generation, with the knowledge passed down orally from mother to daughter. A well-known reference to these important women's skills is in the folk tale Rumpelstiltskin, which dates back to Medieval Germany and was collected in written form by the folklorists the Brothers Grimm. The miller's daughter is valued as a potential wife because of her reputation for being able to spin straw into gold.
In some parts of China, beginning in the Southern Tang kingdom in Nanjing (937-975), the custom of foot binding was associated with upper class women who were worthy of a life of leisure, and husbands who could afford to spare them the necessity of work (which would require the ability to be mobile and spend the day on their feet). Because of this belief, parents hoping to ensure a good marriage for their daughters would begin binding their feet from about the age of seven years old to achieve the ideal appearance. The tinier the feet, the better the social rank of a future husband. This practice did not end until the early years of the 20th century.
China has had many customs tied to girls and their roles as future wives and mothers. According to one custom, a girl's way of wearing her hair would indicate her marital status. An unmarried girl would wear her hair in two "pigtails", and once married, she would wear her hair in one.
In some cultures, girls' passing through puberty is viewed with concern for a girl's chastity. In some communities, there is a traditional belief that female genital mutilation is a necessity to prevent a girl from becoming sexually promiscuous. The practice is dangerous, however, and leads to long-term health problems for women who have undergone it. The practice has been a custom in 28 countries of Africa, and persists mainly in rural areas. This coming-of-age custom, sometimes incorrectly described as "female circumcision", is being outlawed by governments, and challenged by human rights groups and other concerned community members, who are working to end the practice.

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