Women's liberation is working in Tahiti as well as, or better than, any place in the world. I discovered this when I visited the beautiful island of Bora Bora, which inspired James Mitchner's "Tales of the South Pacific." We stayed at the Hotel Bora Bora, where, instead of hotel rooms, visiting couples have their own grass-covered huts over-looking the crystal-clear, fish-happy lagoon.
One of the first things I noticed was that there were only women working in the hotel - at the desk or the bar, as chambermaids or waitresses.
One morning I made a descret inquiry as to where all the men on Bora Bora were.
A Frenchman who lives on the island said. "They're probably still in their huts sleeping. They're very tired from celebrating the 14th of July, which as you know has been going on for 10 days."
"But don't they have to go to work?"
No, monsieur. The tradition of the island is that only the women work."
"What do the men do?"
"Sleep, sail, fish if they feel like it. They manage to keep busy."
"But if the women work, what do the men use for money?"
The women. You see, monsieur, the they make."
"But that's wonderful," I said, "This is the country of true women's liberation."
"It has it advantages," the Frenchman said."
"Who takes care of the children?"
"Who does the cooking, cleaning and washing?"
The women. You see, monsieur, the men here resuect their women and let them do everything. As a matter of fact, there aren't enough hours in a day for a woman to fulfill herself."
"What about marrage?"
"Some people get married, some don't. If a man tires of his woman, he can find another one."
"Then a woman here does not have to be tied down."
"No, As soon as her man leaves her. She is free."
"This is a woman's lib paradise," I said. "It must make the men angry to know the women have all the jobs."
"Not really. You must understand that the Tahitian man is not as ambitious as the American man. Many, many years ago, Tahitian men discovered there was nothing they could do that their women couldn't do better. Once they made this discovery, they decided it ws stupid to compete with them."
"If only American men could learn this," I said, "we would indeed have a happy country."
"I do not want to give the impression that our men do not work at all. Many of them play musical instruments when their wives dance for the tourists."
"You mean after they work all day, cook, clean, and take care of their children, the women still have time to dance for the tourists?"
"Of course," the Frenchman said. "It is part of their duties. The tourists would be very disappointed to come all this way and not see the Tahitian women dance."
"To think," I said, "they've managed to have all this liberation without a revolution."
"It is a unique position for women to hold, but even in paradise there is trouble. A few women are complaining that they are too liberated. They're starting to demand fewer rights and more time off."