Relative Status of Men and Women

In general, women and men here seemed to inhabit separate but articulated worlds within each household. Women had considerable autonomy in their tasks, such as gardening and fishing, while men operated independently from others as well. Although the public culture stipulated that men exchanged women in marriage, the reality was that few women married men not of their choosing (see "Courtship and Marriage"). Both men and women were admired for their forcefulness and independence. Although it is difficult to measure in any realistic way, it must be said that Mundugumor women had a relatively high status, relative, that is, to women in other Melanesian groups. Their influence on the public arena was significant, but from the sidelines. Girls may have been more valued than boys, but they were valuable to men for the purpose of marriage exchange.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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