Meghalaya - Where Women Call the Shots Anthropology

Southern Maine Community College **We aren't endorsed by this school
ANTH 105
Mar 7, 2023
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Intro To Cultural Anthropology Meghalaya - Where Women Call the Shots November 3, 20 1. The matrilineal social system of the tribes of Meghalaya are describe as a society where children take the mother's surname, daughters inherit the family property with the youngest getting the bigger share, and most businesses are run by women. The youngest daughter anchors the family, looking after elderly parents, giving shelter and care to unmarried brothers and sisters, and watching over property. 2. Some trace the origins of the system to kings, who preferred to entrust the household to their queens when they went to battle. Anirban Roy, a man that married in the matrilineal culture faced no problems. Whenever he faced a problem, the members of the wife's clan rushed to his aid. As a groom, he enjoyed great respect and privilege. Many men complained, and some formed a group called Syngkhong Rympei Thymai back in 1990. Keith Pariat the SRT's founder says "Our men now have no roles as fathers or uncles. Since ancient times, fathers have been the protector and bread-earner but this notion is not so much of a reality in our society now." Anthony Kharkhongor an SRT member says "We hope things will change and we will get a more meaningful role to play in our society." One group is happy their role is more laxed and they have more help from other family members. Where the other group has their roles taken away and have no role left to play. They are now trying to fight to get them back. 3. Marriage as a modern institution is contrasted with the traditional practice because men used to go to war and leave their wives with their land. After some time, the matrilineal society came to place where the women took leadership and everything worked out. Now during the modern times men no longer go to war but women still own the land. Mukhim says "Marriage as an institution came about only after Christianity and is practiced only among Christians. Those who follow the indigenous faith, or who are outside the purview of any religion, still practice cohabitation or living together. So, our system works." 4. The experience for the women in Meghalaya goes as follows women enjoy remarkable social mobility and can accompany any men without taboo. Where in India women often become victims of "honor killings" if seen with a male from another caste. In India the bride's family is generally required to pay a dowry to the groom's family, the women of Khasi-Jaintia society do not. Nor are there any arranged marriages. 5. The Dobar Shnong - or the grassroots political institution of the tribes - debars women from holding office and remains a male-centric institution. "These days women attend the Dorbar but
cannot hold office as executive members, and certainly not as the headman," says Thomas. "This is one reason why women in Meghalaya have been uncertain about entering electoral politics. There is an inherent feeling that politics is a male domain," says Mukhim. The 60-member Meghalaya state assembly also has only four women law makers-an unusual situation in a society where social and economic powers rest with females.
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