Relative Status of Men and Women

Men and women share the responsibility of performing many tasks. The historic literature on the Bakairi suggest that this is not new. A marked egalitarianism and/or complementariness has long characterized most aspects of village life (Petrullo, 1932). Both men and women manufacture crafts, such as baskets and benches in the case of the men and hammocks in the case of women. They both fish, participate in gardening, play important roles in child-rearing, have a say in family and community decisions, and make recognized contributions to the religious dimension. They control their own sexuality in that they decide with whom to have sex, and although parents play an important role in choosing marriage partners, they are able to express their own wishes in affecting how the relationship works out. Both men and women can initiate divorce. However, only men hunt, become shamans, dance in masks, work in the men's house, and leave the reservation to work for wages. In contact situations with Brazilians, men are favored by the non-Indians and thus have assumed a more dominant role in such interactions.

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