Although sex discrimination in daily activities is unknown in Balinese society, men's and women's tasks and roles are clearly defined and quite separate. There's certain hardiness in Balinese women and softness in Balinese men that seem to reflect an ease with their sexuality and gender role.
Men and women both play male and female roles in Balinese dance. Both sexes wear sarong skirts. Though once the exclusive preserves of men, women are now becoming more involved in painting, sculpture, and woodcarving. There's an acclaimed woman's 'gamelan' orchestra in Peliatan and women's art gallery in Ubud.
Women often have independent incomes and are in charge of raising pigs and cultivating the fields. They also prepare for all the milestones in family life considered important or magical: birth, the first cutting of nails and hair, filing of teeth, the piercing of earlobes, marriage, and death.
Women prepare temple offerings and are responsible for the main work of festivals. They perform much of the backbreaking labor in the building industry. Walking upright and graceful as queens, Balinese women can carry 30 kilogram loads that stand up to 1.5 meters tall on their heads, while men take up the rear cradling their 'parang'.
A young Balinese girl can train herself to carry 40 coconuts, stacks of fruit, or great water jars on her head-all this while riding a bicycle down a bumpy country road.
Men make most of the family and village decisions. Men also look after the fields and do all the chopping and food preparation at festivals. While women care for most of the animals, the handling of cocks and cockfights is the exclusive domain of men.
The market is almost solely a woman's environment, a place of abundant female energy and initiative where females derive most of their earnings. Buying and selling cattle is the province of men.
The Balinese are extraordinarily welcoming, inviting visitors to take part in village life. They expect guests to adhere to their rules and customs. If you live in a village, you learn how to live communally. You know you're accepted when the villagers don't hesitate to ask for favors.
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