Gender over the Life Cycle Socialization of Boys and Girls

Ifugao boys and girls are reared similarly through infancy and childhood. Markers of gender difference are typically hairstyles, cutting boys' hair short and leaving girls' hair long, and dress, with boys wearing shorts and shirts, and girls wearing dresses as well as shorts and shirts. Both infant boys and girls are provided with a baki ritual named bagor soon after birth, to introduce them to the spiritual beings. Christian Ifugao may also, or only, have their infant children baptized in a Catholic church or participate in a Protestant dedication ritual. Ifugao conduct a baki ritual when naming their children. One early rite of passage in which only boys participate is the first cutting of their hair, which includes a baki religious ritual and feast (Barton, 1911).

Ifugao "native" houses are one-room wooden structures, with a loft for storage of domestic goods and rice, built on four stilts. Traditionally, beginning at the age of 3 or 4, children slept in a dormitory, located in the houses of widowed women or in empty houses. Boys and girls could sleep together in the girls' dormitory, as long as they avoided their relatives of the opposite sex. The boys' dormitory was limited to boys and young bachelors (Barton, 1930/1978, 1938/1979). Today, dormitories still house children, and an older chaperone usually sleeps with them.

Young boys and girls play together within the area near their homes, with toys fashioned from local materials. Boys practice playing gongs, an important musical instrument played by men during ritual and secular feasts, at a young age.

Young boys and girls are expected to care for younger siblings while their parents work, sometimes as early as age 5. They are also taught to carry out simple tasks at a young age, such as fetching water and carrying small amounts of firewood. As they grow older, boys tend to have more freedom than girls to roam the barangay, visiting relatives and friends, and exploring the forest. Since girls begin to learn domestic labor at an early age, such as cooking, hand-washing clothes, and pounding the husks off rice kernels, they are more restricted to the household than boys. As boys grow older, approximately 7-10 years old, they begin to spend more time with their fathers, learning about the labor of men in their community, such as preparing rice fields, plowing, fishing, etc., though boys also learn to perform some domestic chores such as pounding rice and cooking. As girls grow older, also approximately 7-10 years old, they begin to learn some of their mother's tasks in agricultural fields.

Both girls and boys are equally valued as children, as each perform different roles that are helpful to parents. Parents value initiative, particularly in labor, in both boys and girls, but they expect girls to be more reserved and remain closer to home, and boys to be more assertive and explore their larger community. Most boys and girls acquire some formal education.

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