Relative Status of Men and Women

Orang Suku Laut gender relations are highly (though not absolutely) egalitarian.

Daily social intercourse between males and females is permissive, and no spheres are reserved exclusively for either males or females.

In the nuclear family, neither the man nor the woman have a dominant position. In the intraethnic public sphere—during daily gatherings or while dealing with conflicts—both represent their family equally. This contrasts with interethnic contact, when the male appears in the role of the head of the family. However, widows who do not remarry can also take on this role.

When paying visits, men and women sit, eat, drink, smoke, and chat together. Generally, there are no substantial differences in decision-making with regard to family and kin-group matters, or ritual affairs. The males' and females' scopes for deciding when and whom to marry, as well as divorce choices, have expanded considerably, although the parents of both spouses—who formerly had a major say in these matters—are still influential. As already stated, both sexes contribute equally to subsistence; Orang Suku Laut couples work together, and in the course of this they access the same resources and finally share the fruits of labor. The only striking difference concerns leadership in the public arena. The position of the leader is always held by a male, but this should not hide the fact that women have considerable control in public decision-making (see "Gender-Related Social Groups" and "Leadership in the Public Arena").

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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