Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture
Universally, the status of a woman in a society is secondary to a man’s status. On the other hand, there are societies today that man is subordinate to woman. The treatments and symbolizations of women are diverse and vary from culture to culture. No cultures are exactly the same. In this critical review of Ortner (1974) “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture” I will attempt to give a summary and critical analysis on the article.
In the beginning of the article Ortner talks about how in China the ideology of Taoism, yin, the female principle, and yang, the male principle, are supposed to characterize men and women equally. Looking at the social structure of the Chinese society the importance of sons and fathers having the absolute authority in a family clearly emphasizes a patrilineal descent pattern. In other words, although Taoism is supposed to represent men and women equally, the Chinese culture itself focuses on a patrilineal descent.
One of the main points Ortner gives deals with nature and culture. Ortner argues that a woman is seen closer to nature because they are the ones who give birth and new lives are created within them. Women have more body parts and functions, such as having breasts and menstruation, which are made especially for having children. Therefore, women must devote most of their time and body for reproduction than men. Connections between a female/mother and a child are much stronger than the connection between a male/father and a child. Society often limits women to household or familial roles, therefore making men free to pursue more “cultural” activities like art, religion, and law. Another reason Ortner argues that woman are much closer to nature is because they are involved in only low levels of culture. Most teachers in kindergarten through elementary schools are mostly women, but when you get to college level they’re mostly men. The exact same thing happens when it comes to...
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