Anthropology and Gender:

READ:

Slocom Summary
making empire respectable: the politics of race and sexual morality in 20th-century colonial cultures A. Stoler)
DISCUSS:

1.  What advantages does Slocum think “Women the Gatherer” theory has over “Man the Hunter” theory?

2. How does the feminist critique and other components of critical theory work to reduce bias?

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Comments

  • Ian Whiting  On April 23, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    From my understanding of Slocum’s argument, the theory of “man the hunter” is predicated upon a willful ignorance of women’s roles in hunter-gatherer societies. Essentially, the story of these women were silenced, allowing anthropologists to impose a male-driven narrative. This is dangerous in that it ignores the reality of women’s status in more recent non-Western hunter-gatherer societies. Furthermore, because Western societies are seen as originating as hunter-gatherers, the implication is that our disenfranchisement of women is natural. Slocum is just one of many anthropologists who have demonstrated that the majority of hunter-gatherer societies depend upon women as the “bread winners,” and that this dependance of men upon women often leads to more equitable treatment. In anthropology, feminist critiques serve to correct for previous wrongdoings of male-centered theorists by giving focusing on the often-ignored role of women.

  • Brionna Mendoza  On April 24, 2015 at 10:08 am

    The goal of feminist critique and other components of critical theory is to revisit texts in order to expose their biases and ask questions that were overlooked because of these biases. In doing so, it serves as a cautionary tale for future anthropologists to be aware of their own ethnocentrism, which (hopefully) will produce a more accurate and complete narrative of a population.
    This process is demonstrated in Slocum’s article, in which she points out that male bias in the anthropological study of hunter-gatherer societies placed an inaccurate emphasis on the importance of males’ roles as hunters. Because of this bias, the hunters were given undeserved esteem in comparison to the lowly, dependent female gatherers. If this bias had not been present, then the original research may have noticed that the female gatherers were actually the ones providing the bulk of food to sustain their population.

  • Monica Kiser  On April 24, 2015 at 11:20 am

    The idea of “Man the Hunter” would suggest that the males of the group were the ones bringing home all the bacon and therefore more in charge of the group. However, this is misleading because In hunter-gatherer societies today they are more egalitarian where the responsibilities are shared among the sexes. In fact it has been shown that women contribute more calories by gathering than the men bring back hunting. This idea would suggest that our early ancestors were more equal and contributed in different ways based on their abilities, not on their sex.

  • Lennin  On April 24, 2015 at 11:25 am

    The way critical theory reduces bias, is to well be critical of theories. Recognizing our own bias is the first step, in reducing prejudiced in doing ethnographic research. While this does not completely eliminating bias, because of very strong socializing factors, it does give the researcher better control over his observations and analysis. What feminism does in the specific case of studying human evolution, is that is give us a better understand of the whole picture. Through the year the theories of evolution have been heavily centered around man. Analysis has not been focused on the importance of females in primitive humans.

  • Jasdeep  On April 27, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Now more than ever, woman are being acknowledged for their abilities to perform in powerful roles. This bias that “Man the Hunter” plays a more dominant role in our society is true, but it is our own preconceived notions about typical American gender roles that have branded what we feel each gender should be doing. In many other countries woman have been acknowledged to have a more powerful hand in their family or society. Some woman have taken the roles of what we feel a man “should” be doing as in making the majority of the income. Looking at our close relatives, primates in the wild have shown similar characteristics. In most cases the female is the one who goes out and hunts, while the male stays home and nurtures the baby. While the evolutionary process has converted primates to modern humans, cognitive ability to define gender roles increases. We begin to brand what we feel each gender should be doing and wearing. By adding feminist critique to analyzing our societal roles, we can eliminate bias. We are a world of man and woman, therefore our society should be structured around the thoughts and feelings of both. For the longest time, a females thoughts and opinions didn’t matter when applying structure to our society. We have revolutionized into a society that is predominately based on a man’s opinion. Although we have came far in a world full of feminists, we have yet to eliminate many old school traditional roles.

  • Grumpy Giraffe  On May 4, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Slocum’s argument offers the female driven perspective rather than focusing on men are the breadwinners idea. In hunter gatherer societies men are very dependent on women and this leads to more equitable treatment of the genders. The roles of women are beginning to be acknowledged. This provides a less biased history of the roles of both sexes.

  • sunny  On May 11, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    The argument that Slocum’s makes is antagonist to the role of women in today’s society. The term “man the Hunter” is biased towards woman that man is the sole provider of the family. They do everything and the woman stays quiet and take care of the household. This however is that the case, woman play an equal role in the hunter gather society and if it was not for the woman then the society would not function

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