Status within the Family

Male Status. Men have always had significantly greater status and concomitant authority than women in St Lawrence Island Yupik society. While the occupations and duties of men and women have changed over time, men continue to exercise more authority in the community than women, regardless of the changes that have taken place. The patrilineal kinship system focused and still focuses on male patrilineal and patrilateral ties. Men maintain these relationships throughout their lives. Hunting, through which men provide most of the protein consumed in the community, continues. As a result, men who hunt are held in especially high regard, as they were in the past. In the past, a man could expect to arrange to have more than one wife, based on his hunting achievements and his successful management of the men under his immediate authority within his household and his boat crew. Hunting thus not only reinforced kinship ties, as it does today, but it opened avenues to increased number of offspring and greater political influence within the society on the basis of numbers of persons under a man's direct influence and control. While taking more than one wife is no longer acceptable, men still reinforce their overall position and solidarity through patrilineal and patrilateral kin ties with their hunting partners. Men are and were the heads of households. They were also the most powerful of the pre-Christian religious figures (the shamans or alignalghiit) and the most important political leaders. The position of men as heads of households has been reinforced by the adoption of Christianity which gives emphasis to men's authority within the home.

Female Status. Women, overall, have less status and authority in St Lawrence Island Yupik society than do men. The patrilineal kinship system dictates that women move from their birth homes, within their fathers' households, to their husbands' households. In a woman's husband's household, she is subservient in the beginning to her husband's older unmarried sisters, to her husband's brothers' wives, and especially to her husband's mother. A woman's status does change, depending on the number of children, especially male children, that she contributes to her husband's family. It also changes dependent on such factors as her contributions to household and her personality. A woman is required by marriage to follow her husband's wishes. In general, women ask permission of their husbands before carrying out any important task within the family. A woman is also under the direct authority of her mother-in-law, an arrangement that suggests that if she survives long enough, she too will become a mother-in-law, a position that will increase her status and authority within the family.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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