Middle

The psychoanalyst C. G. Jung (1931/1960), and more recently Gutmann (1987) and McCabe (1989), noted that in middle age men and women exhibit behaviors which would have been gender-inappropriate earlier in life. Many ethnographers report the greater assertiveness of older women (Jacobson, 1977; Kerns & Brown, 1992; McCabe, 1989; Mernissi, 1987; Roy, 1975); in some societies, matrons are described as becoming like men. Middle-aged women can even achieve the "purity" of men, as among the Hua of New Guinea, according to Meigs (1988). The Hua ascribe a dangerously polluting quality to women of child-bearing age, which no longer applies to older women who have experienced the cleansing effect attributed to repeated child-bearing. Brown (1982a, 1982b, 1992,1998a, 1998b) has suggested that in the nonindustrial world, transition into middle age brings with it three major changes in the lives of women. First, they are freed from conforming to cumbersome restrictions such as rules of modesty, showing elaborate respect, observing menstrual customs, and being confined within the home. Second, they are given authority over younger kin, making decisions for them and delegating the work they once had to perform. Third, some matrons become eligible for special status and recognition outside the home by becoming a midwife, healer, or matchmaker.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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