Other Cross Sex Relationships

Cross-sex relationships were critical in the social structure. The brother-sister tie, although marked by formality and respect, was crucial in marital arrangements. Emotional bonds between father and daughter, mother and son, were predominant. The mother's brother-sister's son and father's sister-brother's daughter ties were also critical in the system of exchange among kin that ideally carried down three generations and resulted in a new marital exchange identical with the original one. Cross-sex ties were so important that they led Mead (1935/1963) to argue that the Mundugumor possessed a kind of descent group called a "rope" of alternating ties: a woman belonged to her father's "rope," while a man belonged to his mother's, and so on. Although Mead was probably wrong in seeing these ties as forming descent groups, she was correct in stressing the importance of these cross-sex relationships (see McDowell [1991] for another interpretation of "rope"). She wrote (Mead, 1935/1963, p. 176): "... social organization is based upon a theory of a natural hostility that exists between all members of the same sex, and the assumption that the only possible ties between members of the same sex are through members of the opposite sex." It is interesting to note that the only tie between men that was characterized by relaxed affection, between a mother's brother and sister's son, was one mediated by a female relative.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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