Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet : Women in Proverbs from Around the World

The Sena tribe in Malawi and Mozambique have a proverb: ÔNever marry a wife with bigger feet than your own.Õ The Chinese have an astonishingly similar message. And in Telugu, too, prospective husbands are warned away from women with long feet.

In cultures all over the globe, sex and gender issues have been expressed in proverbsÑthe worldÕs smallest literary genre. This irresistible book provides revealing insights into the female condition across centuries and continents. The hundreds of proverbs complied here also perpetuate contrasting views of men and womenÑmen are inexorable tyrants, as well as insecure, fearful beings or easily seduced lovers while women are lamentable victims, and yet extremely powerful. These contradictions are exposed directly and surreptitiously in the examples collated here, speaking to all of us.

Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet collates the experiences of women through proverbs from 245 languages, both culturally and physicallyÑwomenÕs bodies as a whole, and each body part; their beautification, ageing and death. The vivid and earthy proverbs also reflect the phases of lifeÑfrom girl to bride, to wife or co-wife, from mother to mother-in-law, widow and grandmother; the joys and sorrows of love, sex and childbearing; womenÕs work, their talents, and their power. They delineate the feminine ideal and vilify her fear-inducing counterpartÑthe talented, intelligent, powerful, defiant or occult woman.

Mineke SchipperÕs stylish critical anthology is an entertaining rough guide showing us how far both sexes have progressed, through the timeless yet ever-evolving nature of cultural sayings and proverbs from every corner of the world.