Cultural Construction of Gender

Only two recognized gender categories—male and female—are accorded full social acceptance. The genders are seen as complementary. Men are supposed to be active and dominant, rational, intelligent, virile, and physically strong. Women are ideally passive and subordinate, emotional, less intelligent, and less confident than men. The gender ideology is based upon the assumption of biological determinism, for example, that it is the nature of women to be docile and nurturing, that men are susceptible to unrestrained lust, and so on. These qualities translate into social roles. Men are seen as having the qualities that make them ideal as heads and masters of their families, responsible decision-makers, and public leaders. Men are supposed to play a strong role in community life, working in reciprocal labor arrangements and promoting village unity. Women are valued for their reproductive roles, their caregiving natures, and their contribution to custom, particularly through their intensive ritual (offering) labor. They are seen as the emotional heart of the family, the principal supports of their husbands, and as practical, efficient, flexible, and diligent. They are expected to be hardworking and good at coordinating activities.

There are alternatives to this dominant binary construct, especially for men, but such identities cause social marginalization. The most famous and accepted are the banci, an "indigenous" transgender category of feminized masculinity found not only in Bali but throughout the archipelago. The waria, an emerging national gay male identity, is usually associated with a modernized urban life-style. Some men participate in the gay tourism scene for money; simultaneously, they participate in mainstream village life.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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