Re: offline goes online, a query to field workers

Harriet Whitehead (whitehea@WSUAIX.CSC.WSU.EDU)
Sun, 11 Dec 1994 08:46:34 -31802

Sarah and Mike are discussing forms of domestic abuse in their respective
field cultures and calling for others to contribute interesting
observations of their own. I have a couple from the Seltaman of Papua New
Guinea (pop. 200 in 2 bush villages). One is that women fight back quite
appreciably in husband-wife brawls, but both parties do a lot of pulling
their punches. Seltaman seem to learn a finely graded pattern of
escalation and can usually, though not always, keep the brawl at a
manageable level. Of the forty something incidents that I recorded in my
first 2 yrs there, only one resulted in injuries that a U.S. person would
bother to take to the doctor. The others, many of which involved high
drama, firebrands flying through the air, machetes being waved about,
etc. produced no significant damage.

Second thing. A more subtle pattern struck me, but there aren't enough
statistics to do anything with it. This was that firstborn sons of brother

sets were often wife-beaters in adulthood. Among the children, you could
see the firstborn sons already practicing up on their junior male
siblings. Could these types just be 'transferring' their violent habits
to their wives in adulthood? Parents do little systematic monitoring of
childhood violence, especially that between boys, unless the younger
party is the baby of the family, then they side with the baby...

Hoping to hear more about this from others.

Harriet Whitehead
Anthro, WSU