SYDNEY (AFP) — Australian girls were warned Wednesday that playing the Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo could lead to infertility as a consequence of messing with "men's business".
Debate about whether women should play the didgeridoo has been sparked by the publication of the Australian edition of "The Daring Book for Girls" which includes instructions on playing the long, tubular instrument.
The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association said instructing girls on how to play the instrument was an extreme cultural indiscretion and has called for the book to be pulped.
The section on the didgeridoo was "part of a general ignorance that mainstream Australia has about Aboriginal culture," the association's general manager Mark Rose told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"We know very clearly that there's a range of consequences for a female touching a didgeridoo -- infertility would be the start of it, ranging to other consequences," he said, adding: "I won't even let my daughter touch one."
Rose said the didgeridoo, an integral part of many Aboriginal rituals, was "definitely a men's business ceremonial tool".
The book, originally published in the US, sent out the message that Aboriginal culture was tokenistic, he said.
His comments were echoed by indigenous author and chair of the Australian Society of Authors Anita Heiss who said the book's writers would not have included the offending chapter if "they actually spoke to an indigenous person".
"It's cultural ignorance and it's a slap in the face to indigenous people and to indigenous writers who are actually writing in the field," she said.
The Australian edition replaces much of the original US content with material such as the rules for netball and a guide to surfing.
The didgeridoo chapter reads: "Playing a didgeridoo appears deceptively simple, until you've got a 'didge' on your lips and no sound comes out. But a few easy instructions and you'll be playing like a seasoned pro".
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