Changes in Attitudes Beliefs and Practices Regarding Gender

Balinese gender relations are in flux, as mass compulsory education, national state ideologies and development programmes, global popular culture and media, Western tourist culture, urbanization, and capitalist employment patterns all bring changing expectations and desires. The transformation of the economic base of Balinese society—the shift from a familial peasant mode of production to a wage-labor mode of production, with incorporation into the global capitalist system—has had gendered consequences. Declining infant mortality rates, improved educational opportunities and enhanced employment opportunities, higher ages at marriage, changing attitudes towards the value of children, state family-planning programmes, and the easy availability of contraceptives have combined to produce dramatically falling fertility rates.

Ideals of masculinity and femininity have shifted in tandem. The traditions of boys roaming the villages, having adventures, now find expression in older boys playing snooker, hanging out at shopping centers, playing arcade games, going to the beach to look at the topless tourist women, and mucking around with motorbikes. Young men are supposed to leave villages in search of employment, adventure, and experience. As men move out of agriculture, villages, and house-yards of extended patrilineal families, and into waged or salary work, cities, and rented suburban houses occupied by nuclear families, notions of the ideal man have shifted. Masculine ideals of physical strength and endurance, community participation, leadership, and responsibility are in decline; men are increasingly identified with, and measured by, the economic well-being of their nuclear family.

Young women, on the other hand, are still largely expected to be modest stay-at-homes, helping mother, being good girls, and waiting to get married. The persistent demands for sex by boyfriends, the strong pressure on them to find marriage partners, the boredom and poverty of their humdrum village lives, and the exciting possibilities of leaving home can lead to compromising situations. New public issues are appearing: demands for sex education in schools and for easy contraception outside marriage (both argued as public health policy responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic), for safe and legal abortions, and for public discussion of sexual harassment and domestic violence.

The ideal woman of the advertisements and of government is the beautiful, responsible, and consuming housewife—buying toothpaste, using contraception, sending children to university, getting her aging mother's eyes checked for glaucoma. Balinese women are no longer workers, sexual partners, and reproducers of their husbands' patrilineages; increasingly they have identities based on their nuclear families and new reproductive, sexual, and consuming duties. Once-fused notions of fecundity and sexuality are becoming separated, but ideas of women as independent workers and citizens, as leaders and decision-makers, are still largely absent.

Most recently, the resurgence of Islam nationwide and the rise of identity politics as part of the democratization process have triggered a new consciousness of Hindu identity. With this has come a new retreat into "authentic" Balinese adat and gender conservatism, as vigilante male youth gangs patrol streets and enforce a newly created tradition as the moral guardians of young women.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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