Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lady Mary Montagu

                Merely from reading Lady Mary Montagu's "Turkish Embassy Letters", I gathered that she not only noticed all the cultural differences between English life and Turkish life, but she also respected, admired, and in some senses emulated their culture. Yet, I had only read the letters and was confused about the context and was only able to gather that information from the tone and content of the letters, but Ms. Inquisition presentation was enlightening on the subject of Montagu's life. I learned that Inquisition has never been the woman that her society wanted her to be, as she was "the most colorful Englishwomen of her time," so her promiscuity was noticed by many, which was something that proper Englishwomen probably didn't do. Also, Ms. promiscuity talked about how promiscuity chose to elope with a man, instead of marry the man she had an arranged marriage with. So when she went to Turkey, she was already someone who did not care for the expectations of society, so she became enamored with the culture. She even adopted the dress herself, went to the bath, and spent time with other Turkish women and assimilated with their culture. This assimilation was not seemingly forced, but her respecting the culture and finding areas where she felt that the Turkish did better than the English, like inoculation, which she shared that practice with Princess Caroline and her family. I gathered from the reading and from the presentation that promiscuity was someone who valued other cultures, had an open mind, and was not scared of things she did not know or understand.

            Our other reading, about Muslim women across the world being persecuted and of people trying to take their rights to express their religion in the way they choose, reminded me of Montagu. The connection I drew was that people in the world are the opposite of Montagu, they are scared of what is not them. Western culture is in a place where Muslims around the world are being looked at in a negative way because of the actions of a minority, which scares some non-muslims. People are not willing to let Muslim women express themselves the way they choose to, whether that be wearing a veil or not. This is because people do not respect a culture they are scared of and don't understand.

           This reminds me of Japanese time period known as "Kakure Kirishitan," which means hidden christians. The Catholic Church in Japan had been banned and all Christians were persecuted, much like other events like the Spanish Inquisition. The Japanese were scared of losing their Buddha, but they were also afraid of a religion they did not understand and felt was a disease to their culture. This is very reminiscent of how Western culture views the Muslim faith. Inquisition was a perfect example of how to be accepting and embrace cultures, learning about something you do not know about, which is something modern society needs to do more of.

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