Chapter 8: Kottak
Chapter 8: Gender
Sex and Gender
Men and women differ genetically
o Women have 2 X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y.
o The father determines the baby’s sex because only he has the Y
Dimorphism: differences in male and female biology besides the contrasts in
breasts and genitals.
Women tend to live longer than men. Men tend to be taller and weigh more
Although in most societies men tend to be somewhat more aggressive than
women are, many of the behavioural and attitudinal differences between the
sexes emerge from culture rather than society.
Gender roles- tasks and activities a culture assigns to the sexes.
Gender stereotypes: oversimplified but strongly held ideas about the
characteristics of males and females.
Gender stratification: describes an unequal distribution of rewards
between men and women, reflecting their different positions in a social
Ann Stoler- said the economic determinants of gender status include
freedom or autonomy and social power.
Study of the Ilongots of northern Luzon in the phillipines:
o Michelle Rosaldo described gender differences related to the positive
cultural value placed on adventure, travel, and knowledge of the
o Ilongots men: visited distant places. The acquired knowledge of the
external world, amassed experienced there, and returned to express
their knowledge, adventures and feelings in the public oratory.
o Ilongot women: has inferior prestige because they lacked external
experiences on which to base knowledge and dramatic expression.
Recurrent Gender Patterns
Even if we still think in terms of “men’s work” and “women’s work”, ideas
about gender are changing along with employment patterns of men and
women. But old beliefs, cultural expectations and challenges, and gender
When American men and women display certain behaviour, they are judged
The Hidatsa: a Native American group in which the women made the boats
wsed to cross the Missouri River. Pawnee women worked wood; this is the
only Native American group that assigned this activity to women.
In about half the societies studied, men did no domestic work. Even in
societies where men did some domestic chores, the bulk of such work was
done by women. Women tend to be caregivers in most societies but men often play a role.
Women have primary authority over infants in 2 thirds of the societies
Differences in male and female reproductive strategies:
o Women work to ensure their progeny will survive by establishing a
close bond with each baby. Women can have only so many babies
during their reproductive years.
o Men have a longer reproductive period, which can last into the elder
years. Men can enhance their reproductive success by impregnating
several women over a longer time of period. They have a greater
tendency to do so than women do.
Gender Roles and Gender Stratification
Economic roles affect gender stratification.
In one cross-culture study, Sanday found that gender stratification
decreased when men and women made roughly equal contributions to
subsistence. She found that gender stratification was greatest when the
women contributed either much more or much less than the men did.
In foraging societies, gender stratification was most marked when men
contributed much more to the diet than women did.
This was true among the Inuit and other northern hunters and fishers.
Among tropical and semitropical foragers, by contrast, gathering usually
supplies more food than hunting and fishing do.
Gathering is the women’s job. Men usually hunt and fish.
Domestic: within or pertaining to the home.
Domestic-public dichotomy: Strong differentiation between the home and
the outside world. The outside world can include politics, trade, warfare or
This can promote gender stratification because men are more likely to be
active in the public domain than women are.
Reduced Gender Stratification—Matrilineal—Matrilocal Societies.
With matrilineal descent and matrilocality (residence after marriage with the
wife’s relatives), female status tends to be high. Matriliny and matrilocality
disperse related males, rather than consolidation them.
Patriliny and patrilocality (residence after marriage with the husbands kin)
keep male relatives together.
Matrilineal-matrilocal systems tend to occur in societies where population
pressure on strategic resources is minimal and warfare is infrequent.
Women tend to have high status in matrilineal, matrilocal societies for
several reasons. Descent-group membership, successions to political
positions, allocation of land, and overall social identity all come through
Matrilocality created solidary clusters of female kin. Anthropology 3
Chapter 8: Kottak
Peggy Sanday concluded that matriarchies exist, but not as mirror images od
patriarchies. The superior power of men have in a patriarchy isn’t matched
by women’s equally disproportionate power in a matriarchy.
Many societies lack the power differentials that typify patriarchal systems.
Sanday considers the Minangkabau a matriarchy because women are the
center, origin, and foundation of social order. Senior women are associated
with the central pillar of the traditional house, the oldest one in the village.
The oldest village in a cluster is called the “mother village”
Increased Gender Stratification—Patrilineal—Patrilocal Societies
Martin and Voorhies link the decline of matriliny and the spread of the
patrilineal-patrilocal complex (consisting of patrilineality, patrilocality,
warfare, and male supremacy) to pressure on resources.
Faced with scarce resources, patrilineal—patrilocal cultivators such as the
Yanomami often wage warfare against other villages. This favours
patrilocality and patriliny, customs that keep related men together in the
same village, where the make strong allies in battle.
The patrilineal-patrilocal complex characterizes many societies in highland
Papua New Guinea. Women work hard growing and processing subsistence
crops, raising and tending pig and doing domestic cooking, but they are
isolated from the public domain, which men control.
In densely populated areas of the Papua New Guinea highlands, male-female
avoidance is associated with strong pressure on resources. Men fear all
female contacts, including sex.
They think that sexual contact with women will weaken them.
Patriarchy and Violence
Patriarchy describes a political system ruled by men in which women have
inferior social and political status, including basic human rights.
Barbara Miller- studied systematic neglect of females, describes women in
rural northern India as “the endangered sex.” Societies that feature a full-
fledged patrilineal-patrilocal complex, replete with warfare and inter-village
raiding, also typify patriarchy.
With the spread of the women’s rights movement and the human’s rights
movement, attention to domestic violence and abuse of women has
increased. Laws have been passed and mediating institutions established.
Gender in Industrial Societies.