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Transcript
Anthropology, Sex,
and Gender
Much of the information in this presentation
gathered from:
Kottak, Conrad
The Exploration of Human Diversity (9th ed.)
and from
Ann Samuelson’s presentation on “Social Identity:
Gender, Race, and Ethnicity” and
Southwest Texas State Introduction to
Anthropology
Important terms
•
•
•
•
•
Sex
Gender
Gender roles
Gender stratification
Third, fourth, etc. genders
Sex
• Physiological differences between human males
and females:
•
•
•
•
•
Sex organs
Child-bearing
Patterns of fat distribution
Color-blindness
Etc.
• Based in biology
• Human female: 2 X chromosomes
• Human male: 1 X, 1 Y chromosome
• Hormone production
• Adjectives: male and female
Gender: masculine/feminine/etc.
•Based in culture
- personal traits and social positions that
members of a society attach to being
female and male
- how a culture views gender can shape the
nature of:
• What is expected of us
• What is allowed of us
• What is valued in us
• How we see ourselves
Gender roles are the tasks and activities
that a culture assigns to the sexes.
Learning Gender
 The degree to which gender is flexible is
hotly debated, but no one doubts that it is
substantially learned.
 We learn our gender-roles from the
moment we are born. Like language, and
other basic parts of society, they may
seem "only natural" to us...But are they?
Nature vs. culture
• Very difficult to determine to what extent
gender is formed by either nature or culture
• Cultures can play a role with some
physiologically-based differences:
 E.g. Voice pitch
Why talk/think about gender?
 Gender is a hotly debated subject (even
among anthropologists!)
 Gender is key to individuals’ ideas of who
they (we) are
 Gender stratification: unequal distribution
of wealth, power and privilege between
men, women, and in some societies,
third/other genders.
Gender Stratification and foraging societies
• Before 10,000 years ago, all human groups were
foragers.
• Relative gender equality in most foraging societies
that have been studied by anthropologists.
 Exception: Inuits
• Relative gender equality is most likely the ancestral
pattern of human society.
Gender Division of Labor
• All societies have some
division of labor between
men and women
 Hunting/warfare
 Rearing small children
• However, specific tasks
assigned to men and
women can vary
substantially and may
appear arbitrary to an
outsider
South american women farming corn.
What factors influence the degree of
gender stratification in a society?
Low levels of gender stratification associated with:
 women control key resources
 strong overlap between public/domestic spheres
 both sexes contribute more or less equally to subsistence
• Foragers
• Matrilineal cultivators
High levels of gender stratification associated with:




resource competition
warfare
patrilocality, patrilineality
reduced female role in the public economy
• Intensive agriculture
Minangkabau of Indonesia
Identified by anthropologists
as having a high level of
gender equality
• Approx. 3.5 million
people in 1990s
• Matrilineal, matrilocal
• Ancestral property
inherited by women
• Islamic society
Third genders (example): hijras in India and
Pakistan
 devotees of the fertility goddess
Bahuchara
 their dancing performances are thought
to bring fertility to newly married
couples and new born babies.
 born male but dress as women
 in some cases they undergo voluntary
castration
 once regarded as nearly divine, today
hijras are sometimes ostracized from
families and may resort to prostitution
and begging for survival.
Recent changes in western societies
 Increasing number of women in workforce
 Increasing number of female-headed
households
 Availability of contraception, abortion
 Increasing number of women and children
in poverty
 Increasing recognition (by some parts of
societies) of roles for third genders