Relative Status of Men and Women

Men have formal authority over women in Glebo society. Women, through their role as producers and distributors of food, hold a great deal of informal power and can generally act effectively in their own interests. Women speak of "fighting with food," letting their husbands know they are displeased by giving them small portions of rice with little or no meat in the sauce. Women also withhold food, sometimes for weeks at a time, from adolescent or adult children who have offended them. A woman expects to be consulted in all major decisions affecting the family, including whether or not her husband should take an additional wife or wives. Because "a woman can make a rice farm without a man, but a man cannot make a rice farm without a woman" (Carter & Mends-Cole, 1982, p. 37), men have a strong incentive to keep their marriages intact. A woman who has divorced her husband can very easily get a new one, or support herself through market vending, but a man who has a poor reputation for satisfying his wife will find it difficult to marry again. The practice of polygyny also means that there are more men looking for spouses than women. Civilized Glebo women are in a much more difficult position since they cannot publicly participate in the market and are often literate but not educated enough for the wage sector. Such women may end up as secondary non-residential "wives" of prominent men.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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