Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Menstrual huts (Ponulu)
Strassman does not see the ponulu as "positive" women's spaces, or spaces promoted or created by the women themselves. Rather, she argues that Dogon menstrual taboos serve the following purposes, all of which enforce male domination:
3) The Dogon (men) use knowledge of the timing of menstruation in relation to the timing of copulation to make paternity assessments, so that men can avoid making any investment in genetically unrelated offspring. This is essential in a culture in which inheritance is restricted to the patrilineal lines.
Based on her research and her contacts with Dogon women, Strassman rejects the possibility that the Dogon women themselves are promoting these menstrual taboos. In fact, Strassman found that menstrual hut use is predicted by the religion of the husband, not by the religion of the wife. Women who had animist husbands used the huts; women whose husbands were not animists did not. Her women informants clearly indicated to Strassman that they themselves did not like using the huts, but were obliged to do so by their husbands and fathers-in-law.