ANTC14: Feminism and Anthropology
September 6, 2013
Feminism and Anthropology
-> what is feminist anthropology? : "It is more than the study of women. It is the study of gender, of the
interrelations b/w women and mean, and of the role of gender in structuring human societies, their
histories, ideologies, economic systems, and political structures."
-> what is anthropology? : Study of human kind
-> what is socio-cultural anthropology? : the comparative study of human societies and cultures."
-> what is feminism? : 1) the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
2 key aspects:
-> as a body of social theory: has examined the roles that sex and gender play in structuring society, as
well as the reciprocal role that society plays in structuring sex and gender.
-> theoretical approach to understand sex and gender (gender hierarchy?)
-> as a social movement: has challenged the historical subordination of women and advocated political,
social, and economic equality b/w the sexes.
-> to be asked: what does it mean to take a feminist approach? To be feminism? Feminism is about
equality b/w the sexes.
-> emerged as a subfield of anthropology in the 1970's; inspired and influenced by the women's
movement in the 70's; and emerged as a feminist critique of anthropology.
-> The key idea's and aims were to explore women/women;s roles cross culturally (as they were kind of
left out of studies in anthropology- think back to last year's course; women and children like the silent
other's of anthropology; people did not really theorize them.
-> one key concept here is to explore women and bring them back into anthropology.
-> to understand/ analyze gender inequality
-> political: no longer just a way of studying inequality, but through studying the aim became to have
some sort of effect on the world.
- Relationship b/w feminism and anthropology; 3 main stages:
-> Anthropology of women, of gender, and feminist anthropology
-> there is no single feminist anthropology theory; numerous approaches.
-> Includes wide-range of theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, geographic concers/
applied across 4 fields of anthro.
-> Looking at feminism in the plural.
- *historical ties to feminism: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave. Three Philosophies of Feminism (19th C)
-> beliefs emerging, especially in Europe, that promoted the ideas that sexes are not biologically created
(culturally- created socially)
-> Opposing male supremacy and advocating equality
-> focusing on women's rights and responsibilities to realize her own potential.
First Wave Feminism
-> having to do with achieving the right for women to vote.
-> women's suffrage movements of the 19th-early 20th C
-> economic and political reform..
Second Wave Feminism (1960's-1980's)
-> Feminist movements: the ideas and actions that are associated with the women's liberation
movements beginning in the 1960's which campaigned for legal and social equality for women.
-> they really forced a re-examination of the kind of assumption of the roles for women and mean.
-> a political movement like first wave, but a question of women's roles; before the 1970's men were
defined as the roles of the bread makers and such, while women's roles revolved around the house.
-> although women had the right to attend social institutions, it was thought that women went to school
really in order to find a husband.
*the women's movement: Betty Friedan, Feminine Mystique from this era. Identified social definitions
that confined women to the home as a source of women's dissatisfaction. Also, sparked women's
awareness of inequality (along with other propaganda). The slogan "The personal is political" comes
from this era.
Third Wave (Beginning in the 90's).
-> Refers to the continuation of, and reaction to the critique of 2nd wave feminism, beginning in the
-> challenged essentialized notions of woman/femininity.
-> an approach to focusing on difference: women in different places.
-> resulted in a diversification on how people view feminism?
-> no longer a unified political position with feminism as it once had; generations slowly no longer
feeling a connection with the feminist theory.
Early Feminist Anthropology
- Foremothers of feminist anthropology: Elsie Clews Parsons (encouraged people to think about their
experiences differently in regards to real life? and the surrounding world), Alice Fletcher (helped
developed the "Dog Act" that really made natives wards of the state; applied anthropology to the idea
of women's rights), Phyllis Kayberry (wrote a book that