Relative Status of Men and Women

Traditionally, no Ifugao person had authority over another (Barton, 1919/1969). Yet, in everyday social relations, people are ranked according to relative status levels associated with wealth, age, kinship group, religious affiliation, occupation, educational level, and, historically, warfare and headhunting prowess. Power and prestige is most strongly determined by wealth, particularly, traditionally, ownership of rice fields and the ability to eat rice throughout the year, and, more recently, accumulation of money and other forms of capital (Brosius, 1988). Gender status relations are also constructed in relation to these status categories. Ifugao women's and men's status is situationally variable, depending on the men and women involved, the social position of each, and the kind of status being considered. But in some very important social arenas, especially economic, political, and domestic, the majority of women experience lesser power in gender relations.

For example, Ifugao women maintain autonomy in their work, as they are viewed as holding special knowledge and skills required for their labor. Yet, women's labor in a number of areas, including agriculture, wage labor, and some professional labor, is paid less than men's. Men are viewed as performing more difficult and demanding work than women, resulting in what is also perceived to be a traditional differential pay rate. There are exceptions, as some women are very successful businesswomen, or professionals whose wages are higher than that of many men, or are members of wealthy families (Milgram, 2001a).

There are situations in which women's status can surpass that of particular men. For example, since children acquire property from their parents through a system of primogeniture, the eldest sibling, male or female, who acquires the greatest amount of property and wealth is usually considered to be the family leader, counsellor, and advocate (Barton, 1919/1969). Upper-class women's status position is higher than that of lower-class men's, and older women are highly respected by younger men. Male and female kadangyan and tomona are regularly consulted, and the tomona's agricultural decision-making for the village is usually unquestioned.

Men generally turn most of their earnings over to their wives, who manage the family's finances, but spouses do not spend the other's earnings freely. The majority of husbands and wives share decision-making in family matters, and each participate in the decisions of their own kin group. Many women feel pressured by their husbands to refrain from using contraception and to have intercourse when they would prefer not to. Women and men participate in religious practices and become educated to the extent that they each choose to.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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