Advertisement

A Bargaining Theory of Menarcheal Responses in Preindustrial Cultures

  • Karen Ericksen Paige

Abstract

The biological event of menarche is of immense social importance in all world societies. It is recognized everywhere as the best observable indication of a daughter’s biological capacity to produce offspring. The most dramatic indicator of the social significance of menarche is that of the large and elaborate puberty ceremonies held in a large proportion of tribal societies in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Polynesia, North America, and elsewhere. In these societies, preparation for the ceremony takes months with relatives and friends assisting the daughter’s family in making costumes and masks for special dances, weaving new mats for guests to sit on, and promising to contribute enough food for a large public feast. Ethnographic accounts of these elaborate rituals make clear that tribal peoples are well aware that the appearance of budding breasts and pubic hair precedes the onset of menstruation by a few months, since the appearance of these physical characteristics in a young daughter frequently marks the beginning of preparations for the forthcoming menarcheal rite (see, for example, Powdermaker, 1971; Blackwood, 1935). When the daughter begins to menstruate, she may be kept in seclusion for the length of the flow. When she emerges, her family entertains relatives and neighbors for days and even weeks. During these community celebrations, marriage plans that have been negotiated during childhood may be finalized or new marriage proposals considered. Although premenarcheal betrothals are exceedingly common among tribal and peasant societies, the onset of menstruation is almost invariably a prerequisite to marriage.

Keywords

Female Genital Mutilation Bargaining Theory Marriage Contract Tribal Society Reproductive Span 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abraham, K. Manifestations of the female castration complex. In K. Abraham (Ed.), Selected papers on psychoanalysis. London: Hogarth Press, 1948.Google Scholar
  2. Blackwood, B. Both sides of Buka Passage. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935.Google Scholar
  3. Bonaparte, M. Female sexuality. New York: International Universities Press, 1953.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J. K. A cross-cultural study of female initiation rites. American Anthropologist, 1963, 65, 837 - 853.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chadwick, H. The psychological effects of menstruation. Nervous and Mental Diseases Monograph Series, 1952, 56.Google Scholar
  6. Coon, C. Tribes of the Rif. Harvard African Studies, 1931, 9.Google Scholar
  7. Deutsch, H. Psychology of women. Vol. 1. New York: Grune and Stratton, 1944.Google Scholar
  8. Gough, K. E. Female initiation rites on the Malabar Coast. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 1955, 85, 45 - 80.Google Scholar
  9. Hogbin, H. I. Marriage in Wogeo, New Guinea. Oceania, 1944, 16, 324-352. Harner, M. The Jivaro. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1972.Google Scholar
  10. Mair, L. Marriage. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1971.Google Scholar
  11. Man, E. H. On the aboriginal inhabitants of the Andaman Islands. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1877, 12, 79.Google Scholar
  12. Nag, M. Factors affecting human fertility in nonindustrial societies: A cross-cultural study. Yale University Publications in Anthropology, 1962, 66, 104.Google Scholar
  13. Opler, M. An Apache life-way. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1941.Google Scholar
  14. Paige, K. E. Codes of honor, shame, and virginity: A theoretical framework. Paper pre- sented at the Ninth World Congress of Sociology, Uppsala, Sweden, August, 1978.Google Scholar
  15. Paige, K. E. Female genital mutilations: World patterns and the case of Egypt. Paper presented at the American Anthropological Association Convention, Washington, D.C., November, 1980.Google Scholar
  16. Paige, K. E., and Paige, J. M. The politics of reproductive ritual. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.Google Scholar
  17. Powdermaker, H. Life in Lesu. New York: W. W. Norton, 1971.Google Scholar
  18. Richards, A. Some types of family structure amongst the Central Bantu. In A. R. Radcliffe-Brown and C. D. Forde (Eds.), African systems of kinship and marriage. London: Oxford University Press, 1950.Google Scholar
  19. Richards, A. Chisungu. New York: Grove Press, 1956.Google Scholar
  20. Scott, J. F. The American college sorority. American Sociological Review, 1965, 30, 514 - 527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Seligman, C. G., and Seligman, B. Z. Pagan tribes of the Nilotic Sudan. London: George Routiedge and Kegan Paul, 1932.Google Scholar
  22. Turnbull, C. The forest people. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Ericksen Paige
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations