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Title:Gender and Aging: Are Women 'Warriors' among the Glebo of Liberia?
Author:Moran, Mary H.
Periodical:Liberian Studies Journal
Geographic term:Liberia
Subjects:gender relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Abstract:Well-meaning attempts to discover a system among women that is comparable to men's age grades perpetuate the assessment of female age-based organizations as derivative and imitative of men's. The assumption that age is a natural ranking mechanism which affects all members of a society equally precludes the possibility that people may age quite differently in the same culture. Based on fieldwork in southeastern Liberia in 1982-1983, the author makes a case for the differential aging of men and women among the Cape Palmas Glebo. In the dual-sex structures characteristic of many African political systems, including that of the Glebo, women's political participation and the authority-bearing roles they hold are based not on age but on achievement, speaking ability, and sometimes marriage to office-holding men. It is this parallel political structure which Frederick D. McEvoy (1971) mistook for women's age grades among the Sabo. Trying to force Glebo women's political structures into a strained parallelism with men's age grades obscures the real structural basis of women's political autonomy and authority in southeastern Liberia. Bibliogr., notes, ref.