Gender Roles in Economics

The gender roles in economics are distinct, but women take on male roles when necessary, to the extent that they can, and men carry out female roles when circumstances require them to do so. Thus men tend babies and fetch water from the stream and firewood from the savannahs when their wives are ill, and women work at building houses and cutting down woods for a farm, when they cannot get men to do this heavy work for them.

The sons-in-law are especially responsible for earning the family living. They obtain meat for their nuclear families and their hearth-oriented extended families. The wives of the sons-in-law are more responsible for bringing grains and vegetables from the family fields and for processing these staples into meals for the nuclear families as well as for the extended family hearth groups. Thus, women spend a great deal of time processing bitter manioc, the basic staple, while men spend days away from home hunting or arranging to bring meat from backland communities.

Before pacification, men went away in groups to attack the enemy to reduce their numbers, preventing future attacks, while women stayed home. The men were probably not away for more than a month at a time. Until the 1960s, men went away to distant large cities of Brazil. They went for several months at a time to obtain goods to give away at home, as they had gone on trek for collecting foods before pacification. They seldom took women on these trips to cities.

Aboriginally, the Canela were involved in very little trade that took them outside their territorial boundaries. Groups of men went on trading trips without women, because such incursions into enemy territories were dangerous. Today, neither sex specializes in trading; both genders sell artifacts in the city. However, since men go to backland communities and cities more than women do, and since more men than women speak Portuguese, the men are the negotiators even when their women are with them.

Generally, women make most kinds of baskets while men make most kinds of mats, and women roll and make items out of tucum string, while men make items out of buriti cord. Men make their personal carrying pouches (mo?ko) and bags (paptu), and they also carve staffs and ceremonial lances out of hard woods, while women do not carve.

Women own the houses and farms. Each gender owns the items they make. Women had few festival body adornments, while men had many, including the most colorful ones (pan-yapuu, arara tail-feathers).

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