Personality Differences by Gender

When asked about ideal personality traits, Nandi tend to describe a similar ideal for both sexes. A good person is hardworking and "polite" or "humble" (tala). Getting along well with others, courage, and honesty are important for both women and men. Nandi tend to be reserved in the expression of emotions, and to avoid direct confrontation. Some points also differ by gender. Women are believed to have a greater capacity than men for compassion (rirgei), and men are supposed to be a bit more "sharp," "bitter," or "fierce" (korom).

Men pride themselves on physical fitness and feats of endurance, for example, ability to withstand cold and rain, and to travel for long periods and distances without food, water, or rest. Men should be able to confront and vanquish human enemies or wild animals; in the past, "Barng'etuny" was an honorary name reserved for those men who had killed lions, usually in defense of their herds. Women also should be brave and stoic in the face of hardship, but they are generally thought to display these virtues to a lesser degree than men. They are also believed to have less capacity for planning and forethought than men, and to be more apt to hold grudges. Only a few desirable qualities are said to be more characteristic of women. Compassion, empathy, and cleanliness are some such traits.

Women's personality typically changes over the life cycle. Young women are supposed to be shy and retiring, and usually are, especially in the presence of men. Older women, especially widows, are much more assertive and less retiring in mixed-gender social situations.

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