Relative Status of Men and Women

Tarahumara men and women are valued equally in society, as different but intrinsically complementary to one another. Both men and women control their personal land and property throughout their lives but contribute their resources to the family as a whole, recognizing the mutual dependence of couples and family in subsistence farming. Women are considered to be intrinsically strong and possess an additional soul (total of four), which may help in the conception of babies. Men are considered faster and better at handling heavy work; they can travel farther from home and deal with external politics. The responsibilities and contributions of both men and women are considered essential to living well, and are equally valued. Most important decisions, such as the sale of livestock, when and where to move households, or children's schooling choices, must be discussed and agreed upon by both husband and wife. In cases in which the Tarahumara family is in more contact with mainstream Mexican culture and cash economy, gender equality may be compromised, as women have less access to the Spanish language, paid work opportunities, and control of resources outside of their home communities. Men who work seasonally outside of their communities not only bring back cash and manufactured goods, but may also bring hard liquor and associated domestic violence, new ideas about gender hierarchy, or awareness of gender-equality issues in public governance. In general, women and men control their own sexual activity and marriage choices, though in the recent past it was more common for marriages to be arranged, even against the will of either party, often between young adults aged 12 or 13 years. However, sexual promiscuity is censured more in women than in men. Fertility choices (e.g., the use of contraceptives, or fertility curing ceremonies) are important to both partners and likely result from discussions between them.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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