Relative Status of Men and Women

The status of Nahua women probably declined as women became jural minors in the eyes of the Spanish court and as private property replaced corporate land ownership by kin groups (Kellog, 1995). Nevertheless, the status of women in contemporary Nahua communities varies, depending on their position in the domestic group. As mentioned earlier, patrilocality clusters blood-related men and places affinally related women in the same kitchen, and a young married woman can have a very vulnerable position in her husband's family. However, 20% of the married couples in the sierra norte de Puebla spend some time living with the wife's family where a bride is united with her mother rather than her mother-in-law. Patrilineal inheritance of land is a second practice tilting the balance in gender relations in favor of men; Nahua who own land as private property bequeath most of their land to their sons. However, a substantial number also pass some land to their daughters unless they are under severe land pressure. Women who inherit land have a greater influence in making important decisions, and their ownership of land may help stabilize their marriage. Married women who own the house have a particularly strong position in their families. The age difference between spouses also shifts the balance toward men who are generally older than their wives by an average of 3-5 years.

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