A Debate on the Future of Gender Relations Essay

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Feminism penetrated Anthropology in the 1970s, its primary major concerns being locating and correcting the fundamental fallacies in the analytical representation of women, which were found to be frequent in traditional Anthropology. Beginning with preoccupations such as identifying the male bias in Anthropology and focusing specifically on women’s statuses and roles in society, The Anthropology of women delved further into the problem of women- the universality of women’s subordination. Many of the feminist anthropologists became preoccupied with the inevitable question- are women always subordinate to men? The question was very important indeed, as it determined the fate of the rigorous efforts put by the scholars laboring in this line of knowledge and the goals they are supposed to attain. On its very answer depended, in the eyes of the scholars, the conceivability of a possible world of gender equality, or the logical basis of its improbability. Many anthropologists argued in support of the view that women everywhere, at all time, in every culture and society have been subordinate to men. Most of them saw gender as a symbolic construction, arguing that women have been universally associated with some specific cultural valuations or spheres which are considered to have been inferior to that of men. Anthropologists like Sherry B. Ortner and Michelle Rosaldo are prominent figures of this trend of analysis. These anthropologists take the physiological features of human females as point of reference of their analysis and emphasize on the biological basis of their devaluations, which ‘take on significance’ in ‘culturally defined value systems’. Though they don’t claim explicitly, but their analyses make it inevitable the conclusion that such a society in which gender asymmetry does not prevail is in effect ludicrous, by definition and by existing reality. Even when

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