SBCC ANTH 103 - Masai Women (3 pages)

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Masai Women



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Masai Women

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Pages:
3
School:
Santa Barbara City College
Course:
Anth 103 - Intro To Cultural Anthropology
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Gender Relations Among the Masai in Comparative Perspective 1 Masai women have lower status in their society They do a lot of work they take care of cows and do the milking while their husbands do nothing Masai is a polygynous society Women should not be jealous of co wives or their husbands will beat them In Masai society women are always beaten by their husbands if they don t obey their husbands Moreover the women who have no children will be physically abused by the sons of their husbands co wives after their husbands die Also the women would be mistreated at home by their brothers All these facts show that Masai women have very low position in their society 2 Masai women do not jealous If they jealous they would be beaten by their husbands Plus in the Masai society having co wives brings benefit to them Masai women have too much works but their husbands and children do not help them at all Therefore co wives can help them to finish all the chores and works For example when rains women need to take care of cows do the milking and smear the roof so co wives are useful to do those work together and finish it 3 In Masai women are men s servants They just serve their husbands and have no positions They must be obedient They need to do all the works and look after children while men do nothing Besides women cannot own animals and even their lives Only men can own cows Cows mean property in Masai Owning more cows means that they are in higher status Since women have nothing they are supposed to become men s servants Sadly these conditions place women in an inferior status In contrast in Kung nad Iroquois women enjoy relatively high status For the Kung women they are also associate in tasks including heavy labor Such as Masai women Kung women contribute most of food but they wave greater say in band In Iroquois women were cultivators they owned property and had much power to influence in tribal affair Iroquois women have the considerable authority in the longhouse they live It was also the women s share that control allocation of the food they produced Iroquois women also involved themselves in selecting religious leaders although they do not have political status They can be also involved in the selection of council members Considering the social situation of each tribe s women both of the Kung and the Iroquois women have better social status than Masai women do 4 In fact whereas women all over the world are nowadays in a process of empowering themselves Masai women are clearly inferior to the men and have little opportunity for advancement without help The inferiority is exemplified by several traditions First in an age of sixteen the girls are traditionally sold by their parents for a price in between 5 50 cows to a mostly older husband Thereby men who have a lot of animal property or a superior task in the community as chiefs can have as many women as they want Up to 20 wives are thereby not rare Then the women have to build their own hut where she will be distributed among the women Once married there is rarely a way out due to the fact that divorces are in general not accepted 5 Clitoridectomy removes source of sexual pleasure For female often parts of vulva are sewn afterward to ensure virginity It is a ritual cutting or alteration of the female genitalia It is the ceremony that initiates young Maasai girls into adulthood through ritual circumcision and then into early arranged marriages Women who will be circumcised wear dark clothing paint their faces with markings and then cover their faces on completion of the ceremony For male circumcision is one rite of passage from boyhood to the status of junior warrior It is performed without anaesthetic This ritual is typically performed by the elders who use a sharpened knife and makeshift cattle hide bandages for the procedure The boy must endure the operation in silence 6 The Masai have always had separate categories of sexual partners Women have had a husband and additional friend s each with their own specific purposes Where marriage is a duty a relationship with a friend is an act of love and compassion In this way Masai social structure is arguably more stable through arranged marriage and the understanding that as a woman your role is to go make your and listen to what your husband says but that you will also have sexual relationships with friend s which you have obtained through your own agency A girl is expected to accept the husband her father chooses for her it is in this way that she can become a mother and birth the new generation of Masai However she chooses her friend s herself exhibiting empowerment over that aspect of her sexual and emotional life Christianity requires that the many roles typically fulfilled by husbands and friend s respectively all come from the same single husband Furthermore Masai women are a part of a community of the many wives of one man In this way they can collectively are for the children of the boma share work and chores and care for each other 7 In the myth women used to own a lot of animals One day the woman got up early to slaughter an animal and every woman said My son won t go herding today he will stay to eat kidney Because of kidney and because no child went herding animals all went off Now men own cows so women became their servants Because women s cows went off on their own they neglected the herd and so they became servants of men and they own nothing All they own now are their ground to milk into 8 From our personal perspective jealousy would exist because they also human Masai women are in fact jealous to their co wives if they are in love with their husbands However they are not allowed to express it because if they show their jealousy their husbands would violate them In a society which women have low status they do not dare to speak for themselves They are also human who feel jealous but they have to swallow it in order to keep their marriage to stay at a house to void mistreating On the other hand people who get married are not necessary in love with each other in Masai Since Masai women cannot choose their husband by themselves they might not be in love with their husband Then the percentage of jealousy is relatively low Besides women have lots of work to do together with their co wives They might spend more time with cowives than with their husbands Therefore co wives may have good relationships with each other


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