Gender Related Social Groups

Na social groups are primarily organized around household and village life. Household size tends to be from 6 to 12 members. However, in some communities there are still large households of 20-30 members; while in towns Na tend to live in nuclear families. Households that are related through female consanguinity consider themselves part of a larger grouping, and will assist each other with projects, planting, harvesting, and the expenses of a funeral.

A household may reach out to include new members (who are not kin related) if they believe that they are too small or lacking in women or men. A household without children will usually seek female children. In most of these cases the adopted woman later becomes the head of the household. While some scholars have represented Na households as female centered, both men and women are considered full members of the household.

Because of government policies during the 1960s through the early 1980s, which pressured Na to marry (see "Sexuality"), many Na villages now show a variety of household structures and different compositions of households. Most households have three generations; however, some have only two and a few households consist only of an elderly couple. Typical household compositions include one or two elderly siblings living with one to three adult children of one of the siblings and two or three small children of the grown children.

One variety of the household that is not generally found among the Na is a young couple living together or married, but without children. In general, Na who do marry will marry when they are preparing to have children. In the village, there does not seem to be the idea of coupledom without children, or even of intimate relations without the desire to have children. Most elderly villagers did not believe that young women without children would engage in intimate relations and use birth control, and considered this a rather strange idea.

Na generally cluster in single-sex groups. Often groups of only women or men, but not mixed, will gather to walk to market or to a movie, make the trip to a neighboring village to celebrate the opening of a new house or a coming of age celebration, walk together to festivals, or work in fields. These groups may sometimes include members of different age cohorts, or at other times be almost all one age (as in the case of walking to a movie or social event). Single-sex grouping allows for easier group relations as there is no need to respect taboos on speech (see "Sexuality") and these groupings develop from gendered labor activities.

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