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Subsistence Songs: Haitian téat Performances, Gendered Capital, and Livelihood Strategies in Jean Makout, Haiti

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
Author:
Timothy T. Schwartz . schwartz833@yahoo.com

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Examines how sexual and gender values in rural Haiti are expressed through 'téat', theatrical, songs and performances among girls from 10 to 20 years. Author describes how these sexual values relate to a concept of gendered capital, or what he calls a "sexual-moral economy", whereby men who want sex with women need to provide material rewards for this sexual access. He explains how this combines with certain gender socializations and views of men, unlike women, really needing sex, and socialized toward this, also by women, and thus from an early age to aggressively pursue women, and women on the other hand toward restraint, and to require material rewards. Author illustrates, through examples, how téat songs reflect and refer to these values, often through sexual metaphors. In addition, he shows how they relate to the wider social and gender context of matrifocality and subsistence strategies, notably the household, wherein women tend to be dominant over men, who supplied the house as expected price for her sex, manages production and reproduction of her daughters in it, instilling them also with the said sexual values, and with children seen as necessary for household work, as the women also engage in market activities outside of the house.

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