1. Ernestine Friedl says that the position of women is higher the more they are involved in (1) Primary subsistence (as owners or controllers, NOT merely as laborers) and (2) the PUBLIC distribution of the product of subsistence. Use this argument to account for the position of women in ! Kung society. Make sure you use both part (1) and part (2) of Friedl’s argument. The ! Kung are hunter-gatherers of Southern Africa and the women play an essential role in the production of subsistence for their families.
The woman actually contribute a greater proportion of the subsistence to their families directly than do the men who are the game hunters in the family. As Friedl describes in “Society and Sex Roles” (page 101) regardless of who produces food, the person who gives it to others creates the obligations and alliances that are at the center of all political relations. ” The woman from birth are the gathers within the !
Kung and Friedl believes that it is due to four inter-related factors as to why the woman are the foragers; the variability in the supply of game, the different skills required for hunting and gathering; the incompatibility between carrying burdens and hunting; and the small size of semi-nomadic foraging populations (page 102). !Kung women play a very vital role in the survival of their families through their gathering of subsistence and they are not simply laborers but they are owners and/or distributors of what they bring home. However, they remain to be the less powerful of the genders within their culture.
The ! Kung woman’s role is critical to the survival of their villages because when unsuccessful hunters come home without protein (game) it is the woman who will feed the men, children and the elderly within their village and because they strictly provide for their family as the foragers they are not, based on Friedl’s’ theories, the one who disperses food to others. Thus, ! Kung women are not considered to be the person with seniority and power. By modern day definition, a laborer is a person who is responsible for gathering the goods, however, the !
Kung women on the contrary are the owners of how and what they collect and they do contribute more to their families for survival, thus according to modern day thought their role should be much higher in society than it is. This is strictly based on my personal beliefs and my culture. In conclusion, women have very significant duties in !Kung villages and although Friedl states that they are not the superior sex, it is because they respect their culture and their beliefs and they don’t fight the system. Respect is something that our culture needs to reflect on, again and this is strictly my opinion of what we might learn from the !
Kung people. The ! Kung have been raised by and through their traditions and culture and they have been taught to mutually respect each other and they rely on what they have been taught about their way of life and about their people and it works for them and it is sad to think that through the interest of many anthropologists, scientists and research as a whole, this traditional and somewhat pre-historic, to my generation, culture may become extinct. 2. Construct arguments for the following two propositions: (1) that Kung men have higher status and greater power than Kung women, and (2) that there is equality between Kung men and Kung women.
Which position do you agree with, and why? Through all of our readings and as illustrated in Nisa, “The Life and Words of a ! Kung Woman”, the men have higher status and greater power than the Kung women and this is primarily because they are men and the hunters and providers for the entire village, not just their direct family. Generally, the men’s position in the village is to bring in the bigger game, leaving the women, children and elderly for days at a time to find meat (protein) to bring back.
Because they are bringing meat into the entire village it is a time when the men are celebrated and viewed as superior and they are given higher status among each other. They are the hunters and providers of meat and thus they gain great status from this! Also in the division of the kill there is great acknowledgement to the hunter whose arrow was the first to hit the kill and as the one who is highly celebrated, men gain a larger range of influence and power in the village.
It is believed that the higher status that the men gain is due to their greater ability to protect themselves in the wild and because they feed everyone in their village! In addition, due to the scarcity of large and small game (protein) not being plentiful the hunters who do bring it home are given great authority because they are heroes. I also found it very interesting to learn that every part of the animal is used by the ! Kung; hides are tanned for blankets and bones are cracked for the marrow. The men of the !
Kung also provide household tools and maintain a supply of poison tipped arrows and spears for hunting. It is thought that women lose a lot of their independence because they are the “caretakers” for the children and elderly and while the husbands are gone to hunt they literally hold down the fort. There are several different theories relating to the ! Kung people as to their being equals and as stated by Russell Dekema, which conflicts to Friedl and Nisa, “It is known that there is a large social division among the !
Kung and it is between men and women”. In NISA, the ! Kung are stated to be something of an anomaly” and in a society of ancient traditions, men and women live together in a non- exploitative manner, displaying a striking degree of eq1uality between the sexes-perhaps a lesson for our own society. ” Children of course have completely different roles than adults, as in our society, and the older adults have slightly more prestige than younger adults, and younger adults are more able to acquire food for the band. The roles of men and women in the !
Kung are very typical to what use to be considered the “norm” for the June Ward, Leave it to Beaver generation of my Grandmother. Today most Americans would likely find this arrangement undesirable, and many women do not want to stay at home or can’t due to the cost of living! They are becoming Professionals in the business world and they do not want to give up their careers, thus they have day care, grandparents or nannies raising their children. I believe I am fortunate in having a Mom who was able and willing to stay home with myself and my three siblings because that time with her is and always will be irreplaceable.
She now works full-time out of the house and likely gave up her position in business for us, but that is what she chose and she says she wouldn’t change that for the World and for all of to remember we were blessed to be financially secure to have her home. Another fascinating fact about the ! Kung is that “both men and women believe that their jobs are desirable and important and they do not generally wish to trade” (Shostak 1981:242). There is a willingness of the men of the !
Kung to perform the work of a woman, such as gathering, or caring for the children and if a man does engage in women’s responsibilities, nothing much is thought of it. Also, as far as equality is concerned, the ! Kung men seem to participate in raising their children as often as possible and again nothing is thought of it, as far as being negative. When asked ! Kung woman state that they do not want to be hunters as they want to be gatherers and be with their children at home. 3. What effect has modernization had on gender roles and gender relations among the Kung?
What do you foresee for the future? !Kung people live in small villages (10 – 30 people) and they lead simple lives. The distinction and jobs are divided according to gender and it is a system that has worked for centuries. The ! Kung culture provides a look into a dying way of life that use to be the predominant way of life throughout the world and as referenced in the Bible. The men and women had specific duties, not that I am agreeing with this, but it is the women who stayed home and raised the children and the men went to work. If you look at the culture and history of the !
Kung people this is exactly how it is! Before agriculture changed the way that people settled into areas, foraging was an important means of survival and whether it is foraging or begging for change it is a way of life and it is necessary in order to have food and water the basics of our need. In spite of the rest of the worlds advancements, the ! Kung have remained isolated and have continued to practice a culture that has put an emphasis on mutual cooperation with each other and their environment. It is all about survival and not individual survival but the village’s survival.
I find this culture to be very intriguing as it is the rudimentary life style of all of us. Because the ! Kung are among the last known hunter-gathering societies in the World , they are likely to be greatly impacted by modernization. As with most forms of science investigations the impact and influence left behind is significant and is a threat to the population no matter how many safety protocols that are put in place. In addition the African military are placing significant emphasis and regulation on land management, and this form of modernization will cause the !
Kung way of life to disappear. The ! Kung people are in many ways being forced to make changes prior to being ready and prepared. There are “natural” way cultures evolve from their way’s to modern way’s however in the case of the ! Kung they are being forced through modernization and the fear of extinction. An important resource is being pushed into non-existence and this is their land and their food resources. In fact, given enough time, and not even a short time, this paper would more than likely be a historical cultural study. A beautiful and intriguing culture!