SEXUAL JEALOUSY AND ASSAULT
While there is little or no sexual antagonism in Rungus society,
sexual jealously (mongivogu) is prevalent. There is the story of
a girl who was being courted by two youths. And one day, as she
passed them on the way to the river, she made up a short, highly
metaphorical poem. The underlying meaning of the poem was that she
liked them equally and could not make up her mind between the two
of them. Then each said that as long he was not going to marry her,
the other wouldn't either. And they stabbed her and then killed
each other. The event is supposed to have happened before the arrival
of the British. But the story along with the poem is repeated frequently.
No one now knows who was involved in the incident. But it is a clear
cautionary tale of the potential danger of sexual jealousy.
There is also the myth of what happened when men had penises of
dogs. Violence lies just below the surface of sexual infidelities.
And sexual jealousy over one's spouse is a very prevalent and strong
Either just before the British arrived or just after, about four
generations ago, a man in our research village killed his wife in
a jealous rage. Her brother then killed him. In a neighboring village
before the British came, a man enraged with sexual jealousy over
his wife killed her, it is alleged, by pulling her legs apart.
It was our observation at the time of our original research that
sexual jealously was more common among wives than husbands. By 1990
cases of jealousy predominately involved wives. While some informants
maintain that it is not any more frequent at present after sociocultural
change than during our original research, others say it is more
prevalent because men move about more and take work in distant areas.
It is certainly talked about much more frequently, and this gossip
primarily involves jealous wives. Another explanation may be the
change in marital residence. Previously when the Rungus economy
was based on the swidden cultivation of rice, uxorilocal residence
in cases of intervillage marriage resulted in men being the strangers
among the kin of their wives. Now that residence is virilocal as
a result of ownership of land by men and the development of coconut
and rubber plantations, wives are the strangers. There are now many
more women than before without kinship ties within their spouses'
But assault as the result of sexual jealousy is not sexual assault.
It is the response to a violation of the rights and duties of a