Socialization of Boys and Girls

Igbo people recognize that the birth of a son is extremely important for the purpose of reproducing and maintaining the patrilineage. For women, the birth of a son solidifies her place in her husband's family. Thus, in some respects, the birth of a son (especially the first son) is more eagerly anticipated than the birth of a daughter. Nonetheless, the birth a child of either sex is extremely joyful, and though boys and girls are eventually socialized quite differently, there is little sense in Igbo society that one sex is ultimately preferred over the other. In the first few years of life, socialization of boys and girls is not markedly different, with both sexes closely attached to the mother (Ottenberg, 1989). By and large, both boys and girls assist their mothers with (mostly "female") domestic tasks until at least the age of 10 or 12. However, by school age it is apparent that adults treat boys and girls quite differently and have different expectations regarding their behavior. By the time children go to school (even preschool) gendered dress is common and the use of gendered kin terms (and even playful "sexual" banter) is clearly observable. In general, boys are granted more liberties than girls, especially with regard to venturing and playing outside the domestic compound, though, as children, boys also remain very much under the strict supervision of adults.

In contemporary Igbo society, much of the way gender is socialized clearly takes place at school. Unfortunately, this aspect of gendered socialization in Igboland has not been adequately studied. It is clear, however, that school curricula and social organization are extremely gendered in Nigeria. Though both sexes attend primary school in equal proportions and girls are almost as likely as boys to go on to secondary school, the expectations of what each sex will do with his or her education are quite different.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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