Speaking as a Woman: Structure and Gender in Domestic Arguments in a New Guinea Village

Essay Excerpt

This paper is about both conflict talk and the ways that conflict talk is bound up with gendered voices, that is, voices that become discursively constituted as female and male. In the small Papua New Guinean community that I will be discussing here, women are forceful and belligerent in provoking and sustaining verbal conflict. This is recognized within the community, and conflict talk is spoken about in village rhetoric as arising from and characteristic of the female voice. Women in Gapun are stereotyped by men and other women as disruptive, divisive, begrudging, antisocial, and emotionally excessive. This stereotype is reinforced by women's complaints at their husbands, relatives, children, and fellow villagers who have offended them in some way. These complaints regularly get voiced in loud, obscene, and highly public displays that the villagers call kroses.

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