Personality Differences by Gender

In general, Maasai of both genders show great tolerance and approval toward each other and are expected to be generous and hospitable to other fellow Maasai. Any visitor to a Maasai homestead must be struck by the propriety of its inhabitants. The concept "respect" (enkanyit), implying politeness, generosity, hospitality, and sexual avoidance, is a guiding moral principle in Maasai interpersonal relations. The age-set system and the agnatic kinship structure to a great extent dictate who should show "respect" toward whom. For instance, women as "juniors" to men are expected to be submissive toward husbands and fathers, and younger men must be polite and generous toward men of elder age sets. Likewise, children of both sexes show unqualified respect toward parents and elder siblings.

One important gender difference in personality is that males are expected to show more aggressiveness and physical prowess than women, particularly in the face of danger. From an early age boys are taught to be courageous and fear nothing in order to defend property and people. During the moran period this bravery and fierceness is tested in collective cattle raids and lion hunts. While Maasai men never disclose any sign of fear, women who are not experienced in fighting often express fear of predators or thieves at nights when husbands and fathers are away. Men are also far more authoritarian than women in their approach toward children.

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