Florence Howe

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1978


This is not an easy letter to write, though I write easily. I could not write it from India. I am undecided even now about how to write it. Perhaps I should begin with pictures: a naked five-year-old girl gently placing a barely-clothed infant in the shade of a parked car, then running before me up the steps of Old Delhi's grandest mosque, her right hand moving rapidly from her mouth out towards me in a gesture that is unmistakable even on my first day in the noon heat. A bouquet of brilliant sareedraped women-twenty-four circles on the floor before me, as I begin to describe the women's movement in the United States. "Are any of you bored with your lives as housewives?" I ask timidly. Upstairs afterwards, I watch the young village girls in drab lungi cutting patterns for western baby clothes from newspapers on the floor. Two others pause at the only sewing machines in the room. "Will they be able to work in factories, after this training?" I ask. "Oh, no," my guide says, "they will marry and help their husbands farm."



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