Socialization of Boys and Girls

From the earliest age, females and males are encouraged to engage in gender-specific behaviors. Because small boys spend much of the time with their mothers, there are relatively few tasks for them to perform and most pass their days in play. Small girls, by contrast, are expected to help their mothers with food preparation, cooking, watching smaller children, etc. as soon as they are able. Thus girls continually learn gender-suitable behavior from their female relatives, whereas boys are introduced to gender-appropriate comportment through the male initiation process that begins when they are only a few years old. Initiation is divided into two broad stages, but the details of initiation and the names and particulars of various grades vary considerably from village to village (McGuigan, 1992; Schroeder, 1992). However, the initiations that all boys undergo involve seclusion, physical deprivation, beatings, and penis hazing. During the initiation process, boys are instructed in male-appropriate behavior and esoteric knowledge by initiated men.

All male initiation ceremonies include viewing and learning about sacred objects generically termed mayera. In Neligum Village, in the first initiation grade called Wulketakwa (bullroarer-woman), novices are introduced to certain sound-producing instruments (including the bullroarer) (Scaglion, 1998). In the secondly initiation grade, called Kutakwa (witch), which itself has several parts, the initiates view certain wooden carvings. It is appropriate that the names Wulketakwa and Kutakwa involve female imagery, because the rituals serve to separate boys from their mothers and other female relatives (from whom the rituals are kept secret) and to put them in the company of other males. Food taboos are in force during periods of seclusion and for roughly a year after a particular ceremony. Sexual taboos are reinforced by painful penis bleeding and penis hazing with stinging nettles and thorny leaves and vines.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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