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Anthropology - Essay Example

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Renowned anthropologist theorist and researcher Sherry B. Ortner (1974) has made a critical and in-depth analysis of women within biological and cultural perspective, on the foundation of which she has endorsed the relationship between woman and man on the one hand, and between woman and nature on the other. …
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ANTHROPOLOGY ESSAY QUESTION Renowned anthropologist theorist and researcher Sherry B. Ortner (1974) has made a critical and in-depth analysis of women within biological and cultural perspective, on the foundation of which she has endorsed the relationship between woman and man on the one hand, and between woman and nature on the other. Ortner declares inferiority of women at social scale as the outcome of her biological and physical composition, which not only deprives her of respect equivalent to men, but also are assigned quite different duties, obligations and responsibilities in the light of their innate physical qualities. Hence, it is nature to assign divergent responsibilities to both the genders on the basis of their mental and physical characteristics. Ortner also finds females closer to nature than males because of their tendencies, inclinations and apparent traits. The theory has been topic of discussion since it was first presented in 1972. Though the present paper also views males closer to nature in many aspects, yet it partially agrees with the notion that females have same connection with males as the nature maintains with the cultural attributes prevailing within a society. Ortner declares division of labour as the outcome of biological features of humans. In other words, nature of man’s work, activities, attitude, behaviour and career selection are directly dependent of his innate aptitude, physical strength, mental capabilities and gender. Consequently, man’s abilities to dominate over others also seek roots in his natural competence and inborn gifted faculties. Ortner vehemently supports the very belief that gender discrimination has been in vogue in every culture of the globe since man set his foot on the very face of earth. He argues that though high claims are made, by different societies and so called civilised nations, regarding the existence of equality in social status between man and woman, yet practically woman seldom enjoys the same magnitude of freedom and position that is attributed to man within a social establishment. Hence, every human society is male dominated one in the real sense, where female stratum is always in an inferior position, and is suppressed, subjugated and discouraged in one way or the other by males. As a result, demarcation of privileges, social status and respect could easily be found in all human societies without discrimination since the known history of the world at large. “Patriarchal structured societies”, according to Hammack, “have flourished around the world, and their dominance is evident throughout history. These societies have prospered in every measurable way: population growth, economic surplus, military might, and even technological advancement, while at the same time creating a social system that commodified their females’ reproductive capacity.” (2007, p. 2) Hence, women have been the prey to inequality, injustice and gender discrimination at the hands of the males since ever. Somehow, the inequality has direct connection with their biological structure. “Gender is” Lorber states, “so much the routine ground of everyday activities that questioning its taken-for-granted assumptions and presuppositions is like wondering about whether the sun will come up. Gender is so pervasive that in our society we assume it is bred into our genes.” (1994, p.1) Thus, women’s activities and assigned responsibilities are actually dependent of their gender and physical strength as well. Though the human rights activists and torch-bearers of freedom of thought and action aptly argue in favour of several rights and privileges have been bestowed upon women, yet they absolutely neglect the very reality that the females had to make long and exhaustive struggle to win even the right to cast vote in twentieth century; the advantage the male stratum had already been enjoying for the last many centuries. It has aptly been observed that women are discouraged and exploited at work places, and they get low wage rate in comparison to men. “The differential occupational distribution of men and women explains the majority of the gender gap in wages.” (Peterson and Morgan 1995, p.331) Similarly, it is only the women belonging to modern societies of the globe which have been granted so called equal rights; otherwise, an overwhelming majority of the Asian and African women are still looked down upon even in this era of tremendous technological advancements. “In Indian culture”, Veer submits, “the widows used to be burnt alive along with the dead body of their husbands. Though such kind of brutality does not prevail in the contemporary India, yet the brides are still burnt alive provided they have not brought heavy and precious dowry luggage along with them at the eve of their marriage. The physical torture, mental molestation and sexual harassment are the most frequently committed crimes in India against women.” (2004, p.139) Consequently, the country is still lagging far behind from the advanced nations of the globe in respect of gender equality, even she has experienced incredible achievements in the fields of defence strategies, IT, science, medicine and sports etc. Similarly, women are considered to be mere sex object in majority countries of Africa and the Middle East as well. Moreover, women are also victim of harassment and domestic violence even in the USA and Europe, which have given birth to feminist movement in these states during 19th and 20th centuries. “The women belonging to western societies are also fearful of sexual harassment at their work place, markets and public places. Similarly, they are prey to domestic torture, sexual exploitation and violence at the hands of male members of their family at large.” (Madriz, 1996, p.433) Somehow, it is not mere male domination that has paved the way towards the ultimate subordination of women in a social establishment. On the contrary, it is their innate characteristics that play pivotal role in their inferior status in society. The same notion has been supported by Ortner in his thesis under examination. Ortner is of the opinion that since Nature has created man and woman in quite divergent way, the mode of women’s thinking, vision, exposure, feelings and sentiments is entirely different from men. Being kind, sympathetic, sacrificing and compassionate at heart, women appear to be very close to nature in all manners. Women are not only physically soft and tender, but also they are far more kind and compassionate towards others in comparison with males at large. They do not surrender sentiments and emotions even at the eve of most unfavourable state of affairs. On the contrary, males always apply intellect and wit in trivial matters, and hence display indifference, coldness and rationality while solving their problems and combating with the knotty issues in general. Moreover, women’s biological composition and physical texture also turns them closer to nature, which men are deprived of to a great extent. “Many of the ovarian secretions function for the benefit of the egg, promoting its maturation and adapting the uterus to its requirements; in respect to the organism as a whole, they make for disequilibrium rather than for regulation-the woman is adapted to the needs of the egg rather than to her own requirements.” (Ortner, 1974, p. 24) However, the connection and resemblance of men with nature cannot be refuted altogether. On the other hand, they have also been blessed with some distinguished traits that seek their attribution to Nature. For instance, men are tough, stout, strong and steel-nerved, and hence are source of shelter, protection and financial support to women. In the same way, they are, like Nature, the source of encouragement and are benefactor of their families. They traditionally take responsibility of working from dawn to dusk outside their home far from the sight of the family, just to provide a better standard of living to their families. They also maintain the capability of concealing their personal pains and agonies from women in order to save them from emotional collapse and distress, and hence do not share their sorrows with women. On the other hand, women announce their trivial problems and disclose each and everything regarding their liking and disliking, which is actually the cultural characteristic rather than the trait of Nature. Somehow, women’s unabated love, warm affection, sense of responsibility and meekness make them the true representative of Nature, which is always loving and beneficent to humans and other creatures of the universe. Women have happily accepted all domestic responsibilities, where they do not get involved into domestic chores, including cooking, baking, child-rearing, cleansing and washing, but also provide physical and sexual comforts to the husbands. Hence, they absorb their worries and tensions by offering them the pleasures and satisfaction related to their hunger and sexual lust. Women serve as the delicate sex and weak stratum of society, which not make up nearly half of the total population of every society, but also render their valuable services in domestic chores and professional activities on the one hand, and make hard efforts in the business ventures, promotion of art and culture, and struggle through the political platforms for human rights and eradication of gender discrimination on the other. Women are the true representative of nature with all its delicacy, beauty and mirth. Similarly, men appear to be the representative of cultural norms, values, traditions, conventions and customs. However, researches reveal the very fact that women are more successful in domestic responsibilities and the feminine professions including counselling, teaching and nursing than they are in politics, marketing and engineering. Since women in western countries are comparatively more involved in professional life, they are undergoing more serious imbalances while designing their work-life schedule. Wollstonecraft (1993) argues that would men be truly content with rational fellowship instead of slavish obedience. “With rational fellowship women would be more observant daughters, more affectionate sisters, more faithful wives and reasonable mothers, better citizens.” (Quoted in Falco, 1997, p. 969) To conclude, it becomes crystal clear that man’s achievements, accomplishments, career selection and growth in personal and professional life seek support and inspiration from his innate characteristics, which determine his way of action for the future years to come. The same is particularly applied to gender, where men and women are born to render entirely different services and performances. It is therefore a large majority of the individuals working in military forces, engineering department, administration and politics belongs to male stratum; while nursing, cooking and child-rearing are generally considered the subjects of female interests. It is therefore Ortner appears to be justified in her claim that females and males are representative of nature and culture respectively. Bibliography 1. Hammack Jacqueline K. (2007) Women in Ancient Mesopotamia: the Mothers of Female Subordination Jackson State University Department of History HIST-447 pp.2-6 Retrieved from http://jkhammack.com/5-9body&cvrpg.pdf 2. Lorber, Judith (1994) Night to his Day: The Social Construction of Gender Yale University Press p. 1 Retrieved from http://meac.org/Resources/ed_services/SG_WEB/SeeingGender/PDFs/SocialConstructionOfGender.pdf 3. Madriz, E. (1996). The perception of risk in the workplace: A test of routine activity theory. Journal of Criminal Justice, 24, 407-412. 4. Ortner, Sherry B. (1974). Is female to male as nature is to culture? In M. Z. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere (eds), Woman, culture, and society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 68-87. http://www.uio.no/studier/emner/sv/sai/SOSANT1600/v11/Ortner_Is_female_to_male.pdf 5. Peterson, Trond, and Morgan, Laurie A. (1995) Separate and Unequal: Occupation-Establishment Sex Segregation and the Gender Wage Gap. American Journal of Sociology 101 pp. 329–33 6. Veer, Udai. (2004) Crime against Women Anmol Publications Private Limited new Delhi p. 139 7. Wollstonecraft Mary (1993/1792) http://truthseekerjournal.com/1994archive/121_2/ts212w.shtml Read More
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