Different different women of colour about how

Different cultures have different rites
of passage to mark the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Ranging from
simple parties to rituals which take 3 months long. In the UK the main ages at
which we celebrate this is usually 16/18. It is noted that the idea of
celebrating 16, ‘a sweet sixteen’, is derived from American culture. 16 is
celebrated in the US due to teens being able to their driver’s license at 16. A
lot of our culture is from the US e.g. the prom.

In Judaism, girls experience their rite
of passage through a Bat Mitzvah. The Bat Mitzvah represents the girl turning
12. Although a Bar Mitzvah symbolises a boy becoming a man, the bat mitzvah
does symbolise the girl becoming an adult in the full sense. It means that they
are now responsible for their actions because they can differentiate between
right and wrong.

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In Latina culture when a girl turns
fifteen it is usually celebrated by having a Quinceanera. It originates during
the Aztecs, as early as 500 B.C. At 15, boys became warriors and girls were
presented to the community because they could bear children, and therefore
create more warriors. Quinceaneras vary mainly depending on culture. In more
recent times, some Quinceaneras are marked by a religious ceremony which reaffirms
baptism and the vows made by the young women’s parents. Quinceaneras are rich
in symbolism. For example, if the young lady has a younger sister, she will
often present a porcelain doll to her. This signifies the last of her toys as
she enters adulthood.  Part of the
proceedings damas (bridesmaids) are accompanied by chamberlanes (boys of a
similar age). And in some cultures, the father presents his daughter at the
Quinceanera. Historically, in the years before their 15th birthday,
girls were taught cooking, weaving and about childbearing in preparation for
their future roles as wives. This serious of rituals presents a patriarchal
element to this celebration. On the blog ‘cited at the crossroads’ references
Charlotte Hernandez. She writes: Hernandez interviewed different
women of colour about how they experience feminism and how that changes the way
they see their culture. Most of the responses tended to show that these women
saw feminism in one category and their cultural ties in another. Meaning that
feminism couldn’t exist for them if they obey the rules of their cultures.
Sylvia, one of the women Hernandez quotes, says that she rejected the idea of
the quinceañera because she wanted to reject the “sexist parts of her culture
that go against her feminist consciousness.” Hernandez also points out the
complication through all of this in writing that culture isn’t just a
“collection of ideas and traditions but an important support system”. Some women feel able to combine these
two elements and embrace both. However this is also a problem that women in
many different cultures face, whether to support their own feminist morals or
their sometimes misogynistic culture that is their support system.

In the Confucian culture, men and women of
the Han Chinese participate in a rite of passage to signify adulthood. The woman’s
rite of passage is called Ji Li. According to the Book of Rites by Confucius
females are of age by 15. However in line with modern-day societal standards 18-20
years old for women (and for men). In line with the last point in the previous
paragraph, the change of age in this rite of passage shows a compromise between
cultural identity and mainstream culture/ expectations. The grassroots of the
ritual stay the same with some small adjustments. Additionally, unlike some
other rites of passage which have patriarchal rituals, the standardized
routines between the genders signifies the equality between the two. This shows
that the transition from girlhood to womanhood is just as important and
relevant as the transition from boyhood to manhood.


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