How Did Marjorie Shostak Experience In ! Kung Women

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Marta Przybylowska Cultural Anthropology 1001 PTRA – Short Paper #1 In 1969, Marjorie Shostak traveled to the Dobe region of the Kalahari Desert and took on the role of becoming a primary research instrument in an ethnographic study of women’s experience in !Kung society. Shostak used a strategic technique of locating the !Kung people and their cultural developments in the human past, in order to try to prove that much of human life and emotion is universal. Marjorie Shostak attempted to show similarities between the individuals of !Kung society and those of Western culture by examining the division of labor, gender roles and domestic responsibility, through the eyes of !Kung women. In this paper I will argue that Shostak does not successfully…show more content…
She discovered and described a very gendered division of labor. !Kung women were responsible for gathering food, caring for children, performing domestic chores, preparing and serving food, and taking part in many other key components of life in !Kung society. Whereas, men hunted, made and repaired tools, and took part in some of the domestic work (Shostak, 11). Many of these ideas were familiar to Shostak, because the Western world that she was from had a history of male dominance, and she did not set aside this knowledge during her research. This caused her to ask questions that led her to uncover that the gendered roles in !Kung society created an inequality between genders and a gap in the perception of power and it’s…show more content…
However, Shostak discovered that there is a gap between the actual female influence and what they contributed to their societies, and the recognition that they received for their work. Although their contribution was vast and highly important, it is the men that received the prestige for hunting game, and as Shostak described, bringing in a mere 20 to 40 percent of the food consumed. Shostak says “that women may, in fact, be nearly equal to men, but the culture seems to define them as less powerful…and their influence may be greater than the !Kung…like to admit” (Shostak, 12). In her research Shostak only spoke to females, particularly Nisa, so we cannot know exactly whether the male’s of the !Kung culture believed that the women were in fact getting the recognition that they deserved, or if they weren’t. Also, the possibility arises that Shostak downplayed the role that men held in order to create a larger base of inequality in !Kung culture. However, Shostak describes other occurrences in which men exhibited power over women. Such as the experience that Bau, a !Kung woman, had which describes a very pronounced double standard, in which she was nearly beat to death by her husband for having an affair, where as he has done the same before without any sort of repercussions. Shostak uncovers that in !Kung culture men hold a lot of power over women, even though

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