Personality Differences by Gender

Regardless of gender or personality, the role any individual plays towards or on behalf of any other is dictated primarily by kinship. As a general rule, adjacent generations interact asymmetrically, with deference and respect owed by the lower to the higher, whereas behaviors towards one's own generation level members, plus those members of the second ascendant and second descendant generations ("grandparents" and "grandchildren"), are characteristically symmetrical and relaxed. One exception is adult siblings, where an asymmetry in kin terminology suggests a status difference favoring older siblings. Children are exempted from kin constraints of this kind, and while boys in their play tend to be rougher and more boisterous than girls, neither gender appears to attempt to dominate the other.

Beyond patterned kin behaviors (modified, of course, by differences in emotional content depending on closeness of relationship) and personality, there are no marked differences in the ways Mardu men and women behave in the course of normal everyday life. Male rhetoric proclaims men's higher status and greater responsibility for social reproduction, particularly amongst themselves. Women accede to men's religiously validated primacy, and tend neither to boast nor to deprecate men in general, comfortable in the knowledge that their contribution to society is also essential.

With seniority achieved in matters religious, relations between older men and women seem generally more relaxed and symmetrical than in earlier adulthood, when domestic disputes that invoke men's attestations of their greater rights in marriage are more common, as are violent altercations in which women are likely to fare badly. The strongest expressions of status difference, however, occur in the context of male secret-sacred activities when mature men violently berate silent and downcast young novices for their ignorance and irresponsibility, while impressing upon them the enormity of the responsibilities with which they are being invested. The only time women's rhetoric approaches this level of sustained fierceness (verbal and physical) is also in a same-gender context, when they punish young women for sexual indiscretions with men wrongly related (in kinship terms) to them—acts that seriously threaten the social fabric.

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Pregnancy And Childbirth

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