Monday, January 14, 2013

Where's Your Head?

In America, as well as most other 1st World countries, the majority of families have a male as the head of the family. Or really, he kind of, sort of, plays that role when his wife lets him. However, historically, that was his job and that is how most people picture the family.

In many countries, where families are comprised of multiple generations all living in the same home, their is a patriarch. He is usually the eldest male in the family and always directs the other members. In a nuclear home (a man, his wife (wives) and their children) it is usually the husband who fills this role. As most people already know this, I will move on to what you have probably never heard of.

Crow woman
Quite a number of societies, such as the Crow Indians, instead of a patriarch they have a matriarch. Women control the lives of their families and make any decision required for the whole. In their culture, the father's family is not as important as the mother's. Last names are taken from the mother, as are all inheritances.

For the Tiwi, off the cost of Australia, descent is matrilineal but men make the decisions. Today, woman often pick their husbands and the couples are monogamous. That is not how it has always been, however. Before missionaries came to their island, all Tiwi females had to be married at all times. This meant that they were married off soon after birth, though they did not live with their husbands until they reached puberty.

Because Tiwi men did not have to been married, they would not marry until in their twenties. However, a man could not get a baby wife until he proved he could provide for her. This resulted in a man's first wife being a widow twice his age.

Trobriand Islanders are matrilineal and nuclear. Oddly enough, while the wife controls the purse strings, the husband is the one who makes her money. While she cooks and cleans and feeds the children, he trades and stores wealth for her.

Trobriand Men
A lot of men in other cultures would not want to make money in the name of their wife, nor would they be fine with not spending it how they want. However, for a Trobriand man, his manhood is found in how wealthy he can make his wife. Also, if he is a good husband in this way, his wife's father and brothers will give him spending money of his own.

The Trobriand Islanders' form of currency is one that I find interesting. As it is a topic other than family hierarchy, I will post on it next week.


1 comment:

  1. And so you bring my mind to the place of a patriarchal clan. A woman never becomes a part of her husband's family and upon his death she would return to her father's family without her children. What a world we live in!