Gender Related Social Groups

Young girls, maidens, and women tend to move about outside the longhouse in groups of several females or with husbands. They are afraid of being propositioned by men and of the malevolent spirits in the forest. They are also concerned that if they go by themselves they will be gossiped about as encouraging sexual attentions or engaging in illicit sexual relations.

The only formal gender-related social group is the village moot. Any married man may participate in the discussion if he wishes. Women in the longhouse work together on household tasks. Other social institutions are not structured around gender. The organization of Rungus society is bilateral with no kin descent groups. A woman depends on her father, or if he is not alive, on an uncle or a brother to represent her interests in any jural dispute that might arise, including disputes with her spouse. That, plus their dependency on their mothers for support in child rearing and advice, results in uxorilocal residence, that is, residence in the hamlet of the wife's family, particularly during the early years of marriage. ("Uxorilocal" is appropriate rather than "matrilocal" as there are no matrilineal kin groupings.) If brothers marry within the village, the constitution of apartments in a longhouse would include a married brother or two along with the apartments of their married sisters. There are no nonkin associations for males or females.

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