Review and Critique of:
"Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective"
A book by Caroline Bretell Carolyn Sargent
In this book the focus is on how gender is constructed around the world. The book demonstrated many different areas in which women either ruled or ruled together with man. It leaves people with hope that the world is capable of an equalitarianism society. Many topics in the field of anthropology of gender are covered. The authors feature not only information from classic sources but also include recent literature from around the world. This book gives readers an awareness and understanding of the sociology of women and gender. In this critique the focus will be on the goals the authors hoped to achieve. Including brief descriptions of how and if they reached those goals for readers.
Gender Studies from an Anthropological Perspective
The authors present an article by Margaret EhrenbergEhrenberg-"The Real Women in Human Evolution". In her article Ehrenberg explores how roles in gather and hunting for food have changed and evolved throughout time. She discusses how anthropologist have revealed that in early primate societies that the only difference in this area was that women were often hindered by child rearing and therefore did less hunting to remain close. She discusses how over time the roles of men and women began to be more defined as sex roles. Ehrenberg states that crucial changes in the development of humans were predominately inspired by women. This article in particular goes a long way to support the authors goal of showing how roles have changed from prehistory to today and how anthropological studies have contributed to these findings.
The authors also share an article by Louise Lamphere- " The Domestic Sphere of Women and the Public World of Men: The Strengths and Limitations of an Anthropological Dichotomy". Lamphere exposes how occupations performed by men throughout history have been considered more important simply because they are held by men. In this article there is evidence that men and women have performed the same duties; they have only been given more attention when performed by man. Lamphere quotes Michelle Rosaldo whose argument shows a universal asymmetry between the sexes. "But what is perhaps most striking and surprising is the fact that male, as opposed to female, activities are always recognized predominantly important, and cultural systems give authority and value to the roles and activities of men" (Rosaldo). Lamphere also shares evidence from other authors that indicate what Rosaldo found to be true. Lamphere argues and provides some evidence that it is not the fact that women have always held roles lesser than man but the fact that our societies have reported them this way in studies. So basically she is saying that it is the misinterpretation of history that has lead to some of the gender roles society has implemented over the years.
The authors wanted to include writings that included a look at sexuality. In her article "Is there a Muslim Sexuality? Changing Constructions of Sexuality in Egyptian Bedouin Weddings" Lila Abu-Lughod explores the thought of Muslim Sexuality. In her introduction she states " What these various discourse on Arab Muslim Sexuality, by outsiders and insiders, defenders and critics, share is the presumption that there is such a thing as a "Muslim Sexuality". Abu-Lughod then goes on to say that as an anthropologist she would have to question this assumption because of the tremendous variety of communities and in the muslim world. She does however explore in great detail sexuality and culture. In her study of a community of Arab Muslim herders it is clear how culture affects sexuality therefore helping to form gender identity. The marriage traditions of this group includes the defloration of the bride by her...
References: "Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective", Caroline B. Brettel and Carolynn F. Sargent
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