Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wow.  Read this description of the power of women in pre-Spanish Marianas.  The author is Fr. Francisco Garcia, a Jesuit, who never set foot in the Marianas but based his writing on the letters and reports sent to Spain by the Jesuits who were here.  So, we keep that in mind when reading this, but I don't think it wise to dismiss it altogether.

"If a man leaves his wife, it costs him a great deal, for he loses his property and his children. But women can do this at no cost, and they do it often out of jealousy, because if they suspect some unfaithfulness, they can punish them in various ways. Sometimes the aggrieved woman summons the other women of the village. Wearing hats and carrying lances they all march to the adulterer's house. If he has crops growing, they destroy them; then they threaten to run him through with their lances. Finally they throw him out of his house. At other times the offended wife punishes her husband by leaving him. Then her relatives gather at his house, and they carry off everything of value, not even leaving a spear or a mat to sleep on. They leave no more than the shell of the house and sometimes they destroy even that, pulling it all down. If a woman is untrue to her husband, the latter may kill her lover, but the adulteress suffers no penalty.

In the home it is the mother who rules, and the husband does not dare give an order contrary to her wishes or punish the children, because if the woman feels offended, she will either beat the husband or leave him. Then, if the wife leaves the house, all the children follow her, knowing no other father than the next husband their mother may take."

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