Gender Roles: The ! Kung Tribe

1480 Words6 Pages
The !Kung tribe is a group of nomadic hunters and gatherers that mainly reside in Botswana, Angola, and Namibia. Recently, the Bushmen have had to transition from a nomadic lifestyle to a more common sedentary one. In both lifestyles, gender roles of men and women have existed, starting at a young age and only strengthening as children matured. Gender roles of the !Kung have solidified and modified as the transition from a nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary one became permanent. While gender roles in the nomadic lifestyle didn’t necessarily promote gender inequality, there is no doubt that the shift to a sedentary lifestyle has not only increased the gap of inequality between genders, but has also led to an increase in gender-based violence against…show more content…
As children mature, there is little that sets the sexes apart. Children play with whomever they choose, regardless of gender. Children in the tribe have surprisingly little chores to do, if any, so playing with other children consumes much of their days. !Kung parents take much delight in their children, and children are rarely severely punished. The chores that the children do have create early gender roles, mainly for girls. Girls typically are assigned the role of caretaker and nurse for the younger children. The girls are trained to take care of the infants, which allows for the children’s mother to go out and gather. Boys are not typically given the role of caretaker for the younger siblings. This chore delegation forces girls to stay closer to the camp while the boys can venture farther off. In addition, this chore shapes passivity and a nurturing side in young girls, creating small gender roles at a young age. Regarding parental roles, !Kung mothers are often the ones who deal with correcting their child’s behavior (Draper). However, this is usually only because, generally, mothers are the closest to their children physically at any given time. Children are not raised to fear their fathers or male authority. Even though mothers are typically those who spend the most time with their children, the fathers are still heavily involved. Fathers and their children have a large amount of…show more content…
Certain behaviors are considered ideal when choosing a husband or wife. The parents of the bride or groom choose their son’s or daughter’s spouse; a groom’s parents desire a girl who will grow up to be good-looking and beautiful, because it is said that a man takes great pride in a beautiful wife. Light-skin, good teeth, and good height (not too tall) is desired. One of the most important qualities a groom’s parents desire is a girl with a sweet temper, one who does not become too angry too quickly. Faithfulness and hardworking are also qualities that are desired. The bride’s parents search for a boy who is not too tall. They search for a boy who will be kind to their daughter and someone who is a good provider, meaning a good hunter. Girls of the tribe admire wide smiles and a boy who can hunt well. In the tribe, the path toward marriage is a different one for girls and boys. Boys are betrothed when they are around the ages of twelve to fourteen, and girls are betrothed between the ages of two and six (Marshal). For the boys, their serious hunter training begins at around the time they are engaged, so that by the time their fiancés have grown up and are ready for marriage, they will be able to provide. If a girl grows up and decides that she does not wish to marry her fiancé, the parents of the bride often comply to her wishes, and she is not forced to marry her
Open Document