Cultural Construction of Gender

Btsisi' recognize two gender categories: hma' kdoh (woman) and hma' Imol (man). Humorally, Btsisi'

categorize females as "cool" while men are "hot." This makes females healthier than males. The biological role in reproduction requires females to have more strength than men. Since females have different needs than males, they are born with more ribs; they have more nabi ("prophets") to assist them and give them strength. Females are therefore born "cooler" or "healthier" than males, giving them more strength. A consequence of this is that females are also perceived of as being "more intelligent" (akal) than men. This belief does not translate in any obvious way in daily praxis.

Modern Btsisi' dress similarly to rural Malays. Women wear a sarong and blouse when working around the house or travelling into town. In the mangroves or when sea-fishing women wear a sarong or homemade pants and a blouse. Men wear running shorts and T-shirts during the day and sleep in shirts and sarongs. Traditionally, women went bare breasted, but when outsiders began coming into their communities, they became timid and embarrassed, and began covering themselves. Men keep their hair relatively short, although some younger men are now wearing long hair. Most women wear their hair long, preferring to put it in a single braid or tied up in a clip. Older women can often be seen wearing their hair in a bun at the back of their head.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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