Cultural Construction of Gender

The Canela gender categories are just male and female. They distinguish males from females—besides through physical attributes—through clothing, body adornments, and roles in life. Men wear shorts or long pants while women use wraparound cloth to below the knees with no top. Away from their reservation, women cover their breasts with cloth or a blouse, and men put on shirts.

Aboriginally, both sexes went naked, but young girls wore belts securing leaves to cover their genitals during festival situations only.

Nouns, pronouns, adjectives, articles, and other parts of speech are not gender distinguished, but personal names are at least 95% distinguishable. A suffix (-khwey) is sometimes added to a woman's name to indicate gender, but men do not have an equivalent designation. The sex of an animal, bird, or fish is indicated by the male suffix (-tsum-re) or the female one (-kahay).

The Canela are relatively dark-skinned, tall, and long-headed for Amazonian Indians. They prefer lighter shades of skin, straight long hair (not kinky), and relatively high speaking voices. These preferences are not differentiated for gender or age.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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