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The Use and Abuse of Anthropology: Reflections on Feminism and Cross-Cultural Understanding Author(s): M. Z. Rosaldo Source: Signs, Vol.

5, No. 3 (Spring, 1980), pp. 389-417 Published by: The University of Chicago Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3173582 . Accessed: 06/10/2013 18:19
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The Use and Abuse of Anthropology: Reflectionson Feminism and Cross-cultural Understanding

M. Z. Rosaldo

This is an article about questions. Feministshave managed, in recent years,to impressa matterof undeniable importanceon both academic and popular audiences alike. Previously blinded bybias, we have begun a of women and have "discovery" reporteda good deal of data on women's and interests that earlier scholars ignored. Sexist traditions lives,needs, of made our records uneven. Now more than ever we see have, course, And the urgencyexperienced by how is known about women. little just currentresearchersis fueled by a recognitionthatinvaluable records of women's arts, work, and politics are irretrievably lost. Our theories are-the saying goes-only as good as our data. As was suggested in a recentreviewof anthropologicalwritings on sex roles,"What is clearest in the literature reviewedis the need forfurther investigation.... What is most impressiveabout this literatureis the overwhelming number of specific researchable questions it has produced. Hopefully the social forcewhich inspired anthropologicalinterest in women's statuswillsustain thisinterest throughthe long second stage of research fashionedto explore these hypotheses."1 But whatever we do or do not know, my sense is that feminist thinking-in anthropologyat least-faces yet a more serious problem. has spent her monthsin the hillswithpredominantly Many a fieldworker
This paper, previouslyknown as 'Thoughts on Domestic/Public," was first presented to a Rockefeller Conferenceon Women, Work and Familyin September 1977. I am gratefulto participants in thatconferenceand, in particular, to Heidi Hartmann and Catharine comments.Jane Atkinson, Stimpson for their insightful Jane Collier, Rose Coser, Karen Mason, JudithModell, Fred Myers,Bridget O'Laughlin, Leslie Nadelson, SherryOrtner, Renato Rosaldo, and Sylvia Yanagisako are all thanked for theircriticalreadings of that and later drafts. 1. Naomi Quinn, "Anthropological Studies on Women's Status,"Annual Reviewof 6 (1977): 181-222, esp. p. 222. Anthropology
in Culture and Society 1980, vol. 5, no. 3] [Signs:Journalof Women ? 1980 by The University of Chicago. 0097-9740/80/0503-0001$02.35

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female companions. These women spoke of their homes and children and husbands. They told us about men who fed, loved, or beat them; and they shared with us their experiences both of triumphand disaptheirsense of theirown strengths and powers,and the burpointment, den of theirworkadaychores. Female informants have told us about ties kin and the among politicssurroundingmarriage;theyprobablylabeled each pot and each knifein theirhomes witha tale about work,obligation, and structurallysignificantbonds. Contrary to those anthropologistswho have suggestedthatour problemslie in incompletereports or, even worse, in inarticulate and "silent" female voices,2 I would suggestthatwe hear women speak in almostall anthropologicaldescriptions.We have, in fact,plentyof data "on women"; but when it comes to about them,all too fewof us knowwhatto say. What is needed, I writing will suggest,is not so much data as questions. The feminist discoveryof women has begun to sensitizeus to the ways in which gender pervades social life and experience; but the sociological significance of feminist as yet. is a deal than realized insight potentially good deeper anything What we know is constrained by interpretiveframeworkswhich, of course, limitour thinking;what we can know will be determinedby the kinds of questions we learn to ask.3 The Search for Origins The significance of these all too general remarksfor anthropology becomes clear when we consider the followingobservation.Few historians, sociologists, or social philosophers writing today feel called upon-as was common practice in the nineteenthcentury-to begin theirtales "at the beginning"and probe the anthropologicalrecord for the origins of doctors in shamans or of, say, Catholic ritual in the canthinkers(one nibalismof an imagined past. Where turn-of-the-century thinkshere of persons as diverseas Spencer, Maine, Durkheim,Engels, and Freud) considered it necessaryto look at evidence from "simple" cultures as a means of understanding both the origins and the sig2. Edwin Ardener,"Belief and the Problemof Women," in TheInterpretation ofRitual, ed. J. LaFontaine (London: Tavistock Publications, 1972); Shirley Ardener, Perceiving Women (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1975). 3. See AnnetteG. Weiner, "Sexualityamong the Anthropologists and Reproduction among the Natives," unpublished manuscript (Austin: Universityof Texas at Austin, 1978), and "Trobriand KinshipfromAnotherView: The ReDepartmentof Anthropology, productivePower of Women and Men," Man 14, no. 2 (1979): 328-48, for probablythe most articulate of anthropologists writing about the need for us to radically reif we are to do more conceptualize traditionalperspectiveson societyand social structure than "add" data on women to what remain, in structuralterms,essentiallymale-biased accounts. At the same time,however,her "reproductivemodel" strikes me as dangerously close to much of the nonrelationalthinking criticizedbelow.

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nificanceof contemporarysocial forms,most modern social scientists have rejected both their methods and their biases. Rather than probe origins,contemporarytheoristswill use anthropology,if at all, for the comparative insightthat it offers;having decided, with good cause, to question evolutionaryapproaches, most would-I fear-go on to claim thatdata on premodernand traditional formsof social lifehave virtually no relevance to the understandingof contemporarysociety. Yet it seems to me thatquite the opposite is true of the vastmajority of recent feminist writing.If anthropologyhas been too much ignored most it has achieved a marked-though social thinkers, by contemporary of in likeSexual Politicsand The Second classics problematic-pride place Sex. Simone de Beauvoir, Kate Millett,Susan Brownmiller,Adrienne a most Rich, all introducetheirtextswithwhat seems to anthropologists old-fashionedevocation of the human record. On the assumptionthat preparing meals, making demands of sons, enjoyingtalks withwomen and sexual vitality will mean the friends,or celebratingtheir fertility same thingto women independent of theirtimeand place, these writers catalog the customs of the past in order to decide if womankind can claim, through time, to have acquired or lost such rightful "goods" as in and status. writers differ these power,self-esteem, autonomy, Though and of theoretical all move conclusions,methods, particulars approach, from some version of Beauvoir's question, "What is woman?" to a diagnosis of contemporary subordination and from that on to the queries: "Were thingsalwaysas theyare today?"and then,"When did 'it' start?" Much like the nineteenth-century who first writers argued whether or social whether women's forms, mother-right preceded patriarchal in difficult lot has been civilized society, significantly improved primeval feminists differin theirdiagnoses of our prehistoric lives,theirsense of of conflict, and of change. Some, like Rich, romanticizewhat suffering, was a better an endless tale theyimagine past,whileothersfindin history of female subjugationand male triumph.But most,I think,would find no cause to question a desire to ferretout our origins and roots. Nor would theychallenge ShulamithFirestone,who, in her important book, TheDialecticofSex, cites Engels to assert our need first to "examine the historicsuccession of events fromwhich the antagonismhas sprung in order to discoverin the conditionsthuscreated the means of ending the conflict."4 Firestonesuggests,in fact,thatwe seek out the roots of presin a past whichmoves fromhistory ent suffering back to "primitive man" and thence to animal biology.And most recently, Linda Gordon, in her splendid account of birthcontrol as it has related to developments in Americanpoliticallife,5 attemptedin less than thirty pages to summarize
4. ShulamithFirestone,TheDialectic Revolution (New York: ofSex: TheCaseforFeminist Bantam Books, 1975), p. 2. 5. Linda Gordon, Woman's Right(New York: Penguin Books, 1975). Body,Woman's

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the history of birthcontrolthroughoutthe premodernworld,providing her readers with a catalog of premodern practices and beliefs that is and as anthropology.In a book concerned disappointingboth as history of leftist to show how birthcontrolagitationhas fitinto a history politics in the modern United States(itsmeaningbound to changes in the nature and organizationof our familiesand our economy), I was surprisedto findthat anthropologywas used to universalizecontemporarypolitical demands and undermine our present sense of singularity.There is somethingwrong-indeed, morallydisturbing-in an argument which in the past are ultimately our claims thatthe practitioners of infanticide in to men an endless and essentially unchangingfight keep predecessors frommaking claims to female bodies. By using anthropology as precedent for modern arguments and claims, the "primitive" emerges in accounts like these as the bearer of primordialhuman need. Women elsewhere are, it seems, the image of of their lives and of ourselves undressed, and the historicalspecificity we can be strong. that our own becomes obscured. Their strengths prove to that we But ironically,and at the same time fight see ourselves as culturalbeings who lead sociallydeterminedlives,the movementback in timebringsin inevitableappeal to biologicalgivensand the evolutionary determiningimpact of such "crude" factsas demography and technology. One gets the feelingthatbirthcontroltoday is available to human choice,while in the past women's abilities to shape their reproductive or constrainedby such mechanical factsas fateswere eithernonexistent a nomadic need to move, the need for helpers on the farm,or an imbalance between food supply and demography. We want to claim our sisters'triumphsas a proof of our worth,but at the same time their dissociated from our own, because we live oppression can be artfully withchoice, while theyare victimsof biology. (and I include My point here is not to criticizethese texts.Feminists myself) have with good reason probed the anthropologicalrecord for evidence which appears to tell us whether"human nature" is the sexist and constrainingthing that many of us were taught. Anthropologyis, a hall and constraints, formostof us, a monumentto human possibilities "anecdotal called the Wallace of mirrorswherein what Anthony exception" seems to challenge every would-be law; while at the same time, we finda stillfamiliarpictureof lurkingin the oddest shapes and forms, on New Guinea menstrualhuts, a ourselves, promisethat,by meditating or queens, we can begin to grasp West Africanfemale traders,ritualists, just what-in universalterms-we "really"are. But I would like to thinkthat anthropologyis more than that. Or, rather,I would claim thatanthropologyasked to answer ideologies and limited an anthropology give voice to universalhuman truthis ultimately to transcend and unable it first so with which the began by assumptions the biases its questions presuppose. To look fororiginsis, in the end, to

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thinkthatwhat we are today is somethingother than the productof our that our historyand our present social world, and, more particularly, are primordial,transhistorical, and essentially gender systems unchanging in their roots. Quests for origins sustain (since theyare predicated upon) a discourse cast in universalterms;and universalism permitsus all too quicklyto assume-for everyonebut ourselvesperhaps-the sociologof what individual people do or, even worse,of what,in ical significance biological terms,theyare.6 Stated otherwise,our search for origins reveals a faithin ultimate and essential truths, a faithsustained in part by cross-cultural evidence of widespread sexual inequality. But an analysis which assumes that sexual asymmetry is the firstsubject we should attemptto question or to reproduce the biases of the male social explain tends almostinevitably science to whichit is, quite reasonably,opposed. These biases have their bases in a pervasive, individualisticschool of thought that holds that social formsproceed fromwhat particularpersons need or do, activities which-where gender is concerned-are seen to follow from the "givens" of our reproductive physiology. And so, for feminists and traditionalists alike, there is a tendencyto thinkof gender as, above all whichoppose women else, the creation of biologicallybased differences and men, instead of as the product of social relationshipsin concrete (and changeable) societies.

TheProblem of Universals
It would be nice to overthrowconvention at this point and find belies myselfentitledto proclaim that anthropological fact definitively sexistassumptions.Were anthropologicalevidence available thatdenied the universal place of gender in the organization of human social life, the association of women withreproductionand care forinfantyoung, or the relevance of women's reproductiverole to the constructionof women's public status,much of the difficulty in what I have to say could be avoided. More narrowly,could I cite a single instance of a truly matriarchal-or, for that matter, sexually egalitarian-social form, I could go on to claim thatall appeals to universal"nature" in explaining women's place are, simply,wrong. But instead, I must begin by making clear that, unlike many anthropologistswho argue for the privileged place of women here or there,myreading of the anthropologicalrecord leads me to conclude that human culturaland social formshave always been male dominated. By this,I mean not thatmen rule by rightor even thatmen rule at all and certainly not thatwomen everywhere are passive
6. N. C. Mathieu, "Homme-Culture, Femme-Nature?" L'Homme 13, no. 3 (1973): 101-13.

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victims of a world thatmen define. Rather,I would point to a collection of related factswhich seem to argue thatin all known human groupsand no matterthe prerogativesthatwomen may in factenjoy-the vast of opportunities forpublic influenceand prestige,the ability to majority in or determine use enmities, speak up forge relationships, public, forswear the use of forceare all recognizedas men's privilegeand right.7 But I have moved, intentionally, too fast. In order to evaluate the it seems important conclusionjust put forth, first to pause and ask what, has been claimed. Male dominance, though apparently substantively, universal,does not in actual behavioraltermsassume a universalcontent or a universalshape. On the contrary, women typically have power and influencein politicaland economic life,display autonomyfrommen in theirpursuits,and rarelyfindthemselvesconfrontedor constrainedby whatmightseem the brute factof male strength. For everycase in which of we see women confined,by powerfulmen or by the responsibilities child care and the home, one can cite others which display female demandback, speak out in public,performphysically capacitiesto fight and the of infant children even to subordinate needs (in their ing tasks, or on to their desires for homes theirbacks) travel,labor, politics,love, or or trade. For everycultural belief in female weakness, irrationality, which the polluting menstrualblood, one can discover others suggest tenuousness of male claims and celebrate women for their productive or perhaps maternal roles, their sexuality or purity, their fertility in not Male dominance, short,does inhere in any isolated and strength. measurable set of omnipresentfacts.Rather,it seems to be an aspect of the organizationof collectivelife,a patterning of expectationsand beliefswhichgivesrise to imbalance in the wayspeople interpret, evaluate, and respond to particularforms of male and femaleaction.We see it not in physicalconstraints on thingsthat men or women can or cannot do in the but, rather, waystheythinkabout theirlives,the kinds of opportunitiestheyenjoy, and in theirways of making claims. Male dominance is evidenced, I believe, when we observe that to feed and care women almost everywherehave daily responsibilities forchildren,spouse, and kin,while men's economic obligationstend to sortsof ties; cerbe less regular and more bound up withextrafamilial to be sanctioned by a is not likely tainly,men's work withinthe home in the use of physical in which those groups spouse's use of force.Even I is a is a man can "She violence avoided, say, good wife, don't have to beat her," whereas no woman evokes violentthreatswhen speaking of her husband's work. Women will,in many societies,discoverlovers and enforcetheirwillto marryas theychoose, but, again, we findin almost every case that the formal initiationand arrangement of permanent
7. See Louise Lamphere, "Review Essay: Anthropology," in Signs:Journalof Women Culture and Society 2, no. 3 (1977): 612-27.

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heterosexual bonds is somethingorganized by men. Women may have ritual powers of considerable significance to themselvesas well as men, but women never dominate in rites requiring the participationof the communityas a whole. And even though men everywhereare apt to listento and be influencedby theirwives,I know of no case where men are required to serve as an obligatory audience to femaleritualor political performance.Finally,women often formorganizationsof real and at timestheyrule as queens, recognized politicaland economic strength; of men, beat husbands who preferstrangewomen to acquire followings theirwives,or perhaps enjoya sacred statusin theirrole as mothers.But, in whichwomen individually or as a again, I know of no politicalsystem group are expected to hold more officesor have more political clout than theirmale counterparts. Thus, while women in every human group will have formsof influence and ways of pursuing culturallyacknowledged goals, it seems beside the point to argue-as many anthropologistsin facthave-that observationssuch as mine are relatively trivial fromthewoman's pointof view or that male claims are often balanced by some equally important set of female strengths.8 Some women, certainly, are strong.But at the same timethatwomen oftenhappilyand successfully pursue theirends, and manage quite significantly to constrainmen in the process,it seems to me quite clear that women's goals themselvesare shaped by social which deny them ready access to the social privilege,authority, systems and esteem enjoyed by a majorityof men. we are dealing witha veryproblematicsortof universal Admittedly, fact. Every social systemuses facts of biological sex to organize and explain the roles and opportunitiesmen and women may enjoy,just as all known human social groups appeal to biologicallybased ties in the construction of "familial"groups and kinshipbonds. And much as "marand "kinship"have, foranthropologists, been troubling riage," "family," but, it seems, quite unavoidable universal terms,so I would claim the same thing holds for somethinglike "male dominance." Sexual asymmetry,much like kinship, seems to exist everywhere,yet not without perpetual challenge or almost infinitevariation in its contents and its forms.In short,if the universalizing questions are the ones withwhich we start,the anthropologicalrecord seems to feed our fear that sexual is (again, like kinship,and the two, of course, are linked) a asymmetry deep, primordial sort of truth,in some way bound to functionalre8. See Elsie B. Begler, "Sex, Status and Authority in Egalitarian Society,"American Barbara Sykes, and 80, no. 3 (1978): 571-88; or Ruby Rohrlich-Leavitt, Anthropologist Elizabeth Weatherford, "AboriginalWomen: Male and Female AnthropologicalPerspeced. R. Reiter (New York: MonthlyReview tives,"in Towardsan Anthropology of Women, Press, 1975), for reasonable attemptsto tilt the balance. A juxtaposition of these two articles-which come to radicallyopposed characterizations of women's lot in Australian forwhat itsays about the difficulty of deciding what is, aboriginalsocieties-is informative an evaluative argument in empirical terms. ultimately,

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quirementsassociated withour sexual physiology. Though various,our do more basic than our gender systems appear ways of organizing our or courts of law. And economies, religious faiths, so, at much the same timethatthe evidence of behavioralvariationsuggeststhatgender is less a product of our bodies than of social formsand modes of thought,it seems quite difficult to believe that sexual inequalitiesare not rooted in the dictatesof a natural order. Minimally, it would appear that certain in facts-women's role biological reproduction and, perhaps, male in a strength-have operated nonnecessarybut universalway to shape and reproduce male dominance.

as Explanation Domestic/Public
A common feminist response to the factsthat I have outlined here has been, essentially, to denytheirweightand argue thatthe evidence we have itselfreflects male bias. By focusingon women's lives,researchers have begun to reinterpret more conventionalaccounts and school us to be sensitiveto femalevalues, goals, and strengths. If formalauthority is not somethingwomen enjoy, so, thisresearch claims,we ought to learn to understandinformalfemale powers; ifwomen operate in "domestic" or "familial"spheres, then we must focus our attentionon arenas like these,whereinwomen can make claims.9The value of scholarshipof this sortis thatit shows thatwhen we measure women againstmen we failto grasp importantstructuralfactswhich may, in fact,give rise to female power. But while this point is an important one-to which I will return-the tendencyto ignore imbalancesin order to permita grasp of women's lives has led too many scholarsto forgetthat men and women live togetherin the world and, so, that we will never underultimately stand the lives thatwomen lead withoutrelatingthem to men. Ignoring sexual asymmetry strikes me as an essentially romanticmove,whichonly blindsus to the sortsof factswe mustattempt to understandand change. An alternativeapproach,10 elaborated in a set of essays by Cho9. See, e.g., Susan Carol Rogers, "Female Forms of Power and the Myth of Male Dominance: A Model of Female/MaleInteractionin Peasant Society," American Ethnologist 2 (1975): 727-56; Yolanda Murphyand Robert Murphy,Women oftheForest(New York: Columbia UniversityPress, 1974); and Margery Wolf, Womenand theFamilyin Rural Taiwan (Stanford,Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1972). 10. There is a third alternative,which situates itselfsomewhere between the two extremes cited here, namely, that of stressingvariation and tryingto characterize the factorsthat make for more or less "male dominance" or "female status." Karen Sacks Culture and Society, ed. M. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere [Stan("Engels Revisited,"in Woman, ford,Calif.: StanfordUniversity Press, 1974]) and Peggy Sanday ("Women's Status in the Public Domain," in ibid.) provide examples, though it is interesting to note that while universalism both in factmake use of an analyticalseparationbetweendomesforswearing tic and public in organizingtheirvariables. Martin King Whyte,in The Statusof Women in Preindustrial Societies Press, 1978), argues (most co(Princeton,N.J.: PrincetonUniversity

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has been to argue thateven universalfacts dorow, Ortner,and myself,11 are not reducibleto biology.Our essaystriedto show how whatappears a "natural" factmustyetbe understood in social terms-a by-product, as it were, of nonnecessary institutionalarrangements that could be addressed through political struggleand, with effort,undermined. Our argumentwas, in essence, that in all human societiessexual asymmetry division between mightbe seen to correspond to a rough institutional domesticand public spheres of activity, the one builtaround reproduction, affective,and familial bonds, and particularlyconstraining to women; the other, providing for collectivity, jural order, and social division cooperation, organized primarily by men. The domestic/public as it appeared in any given society was not a necessary,but an "inand telligible," product of the mutual accommodationof human history human biology; although human societieshave differed, in all reflected their organization a characteristic accommodation to the fact that women bear children and lactate and, because of this,find themselves readily designated as "mothers,"who nurtureand care for the young. From these observations, we argued, one could then trace the roots of a pervasive gender inequality: Given an empirical division between domesticand public spheres of activity, a numberof factors would interact to enhance both the cultural evaluations and social power and auavailable to men. First,it appeared thatthe psychologicaleffects thority of being raised by a woman would produce very different emotional in adults of both because of the sexes; dispositions divergingnature of with ties their would mothers, preoedipal young girls grow up to be nurturant "mothers"and boys would achieve an identity thatdenigrates and rejectswomen's roles.12In culturalterms,a domestic/public division to Ortner's of discussion "cultural" valua"natural" versus corresponded wherein such factorsas a woman's involvement withyoung and tions,13
gently,I think) that only by studyingvariationwill we begin to understand any of the or reproductionof sexual inequalities,and therefore processes relevantto the formation thatmethodologicaland politicalwisdom both require us to disaggregatesummary characterizationsconcerning sexual status into their component parts. I agree with him and, was pleased to see that his empirical study led toward the recognitionthat it is further, virtually impossible to "rank" societiesin termsof women's place. His conclusions agree withmine in that he comes to see more promise in a comparativeapproach thatlooks for social structural thanone concerned withsummary evaluations.Because he is configurations able to show thatparticularvariablesmean different social contexts,his thingsin different resultscall into question all attemptsto talk, cross culturally,about the components of women's statusor theirever-presentcauses. 11. Nancy Chodorow, "Family Structureand Feminine Personality";SherryOrtner, "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?"; and Michelle Rosaldo, "Woman, Culture and Society: A Theoretical Overview,"in Rosaldo and Lamphere. 12. Nancy Chodorow, "Being and Doing," in Womanin Sexist Studies in Power Society: and Powerlessness, ed. V. Gornick and B. K. Moran (New York: Basic Books, 1971); and Chodorow, "Family Structureand Feminine Personality." 13. Ortner, "Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?"

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disorderlychildren would tend to give her the appearance of less comof less "culture"than men. Finally, sociologically, posure, and, therefore, tradition(and at least as old as Plato) the viewsprevalentin our analytical involvesgroup recogniare valued, that authority that public activities and are and that consciousness tion, personality apt to develop mostfully civic and an orientationto the colleca stance of through responsibility tive whole-all argued that men's abilityto engage in public activities would give them privilegedaccess to such resources,persons,and symbols as would sustaintheirclaims to precedence, grantthem power and disproportionaterewards. the account, as it stands,seems suggestive. Whateveritsdifficulties, of in find can all human societiessome sort of hierarchy one Certainly, in and units. function, mutuallyembedded Althoughvarying structure, "domestic groups" which incorporatewomen and societal significance, and the preparation infant children,aspectsof child care, commensality, a as of of food can always be identified segments larger, overarching social whole. While we know that men are often centrallyinvolved in domestic life and women will,at times,range far beyond it, one can, I think,assert that women, unlike men, lead lives that they themselves of a recognizablydomestic construe with reference to responsibilities kind. Thus, even such apparently"egalitarian"and communallyoriented of southernAfricarequire gatherer-hunters peoples as the MbutiPygmy And women thatwomen sleep in individual huts withinfantchildren.14 hide withchildren in these huts while men collectively enjoin the blessings and support of their forestgod. Mbuti women do have a role in men's religious rites,but only to observe and then disrupt them. As if defined by their domestic and individual concerns, these women are entitledonly to break up the sacred firewhichjoins all Pygmiesto men's god; theirpower does not permitthem to lightthe firesthatsoothe the forestand give collectiveshape to social bonds. Examples like thisare not hard to find,nor would theyseem to pose of interpretation.The evidence of peasant societies real difficulties abounds withcelebrated public men who are constrainedby "honor" to defend their families'claims to "face," while the women seem to lack authoritybeyond the households where they live. But although denthesewomen "in reality" mayuse the powersof igratedin public "myth," influence and control.15 in considerable order to attain their "sphere" Domestic women in such peasant groups have powers whichthe analyst can hardlyminimizeor dismiss,and yet theyare constrainedin spatial in range and lack the culturalrecognitionassociated withmale activities the public realm.
14. Colin M. Turnbull, The Forest People (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961). 15. Louise Sweet, ed., "Appearance and Reality: Status and Roles of Women in MediterraneanSocieties,"Anthropological vol. 40 (1967); and Rogers (n. 9). Quarterly,

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In short,domestic/public as a general account seems to fitwell with some of what we know of sex-linkedaction systemsand of cultural rationales for male prestige,suggestinghow "brute" biological factshave everywherebeen shaped by social logics. Reproduction and lactation have provided a functional basis forthe definition of a domesticsphere, and sexual asymmetry as its intelligible, appears though nonnecessary, of consequence. Much as, in verysimple human groups, the constraints and child care seem to from related women's exclusion pregnancy easily big-gamehunting-and thus fromthe prestigewhichcomes of bringing in a product requiringextrahousehold distribution'6-so, in more general terms,domesticobligationsand demands appear to help us understand why women everywhereare limitedin theiraccess to prestigious male pursuits.Finally,our sense of sexual hierarchy as a deep and prisort of truth with a mary theorythat asserts that appears compatible mother-child bonds have lastingsocial and psychologicalramifications; withpsychological orientations sociologicalconstraints appear consistent thatarise through female-dominatedpatternsof child care.17 As should be clear by now, I find much that is compelling in this universalist account; but at the same timeI am troubledby some of what to be itsanalyticalconsequences. In probing universalquestions, appear is as tellingas any explanationyetput forth. it domestic/public Certainly, seems more than reasonable to assume that marriageand reproduction shape the organizationof domesticspheres and linkthemto more public institutional forms in ways that are particularly consequential for the of ifwomen care forchildrenand child shape women's lives. Specifically, care takes place withinthe home, and, furthermore, if political life,by extends beyond it,then domestic/public seems to capture in a definition, of women's secondary rough, but telling,set of termsthe determinants place in all human societies. But if thisaccount "makes sense" in universalterms,I would go on to claim that when we turn to concrete cases, a model based upon the opposition of two spheres assumes-where it should ratherhelp illuminate and explain-too much about how gender really works. Just as of "kinshipsystems" varyfar too widelyto be viewed as mere reflections establishedbiologicalconstraints have argued end(and anthropologists lessly as to whether kinship should be understood as somethingbuilt upon the biologically"given" factsof human genealogy), so the alignmentsof the sexes seem at once too similarto deny a universalcommon base and yet too various to be understood adequately in termsof any universal cause. Pygmywomen do not hide in huts because of the re16. Ernestine Friedl, Womenand Men: An Anthropologist's View (New York: Holt, Rinehart& Winston, 1975), p. 21. of Califor17. Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction (Berkeley: University ofMothering nia Press, 1978); and Juliet Mitchell,Psychoanalysis and Feminism (New York: Random House, 1974).

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quirementsof domestic life; rather,their assignmentto small huts appears a consequence of their lack of power. American women may experience child care as somethingthat confinesthem to the home, but I am quite sure thatchild care is notwhat many American households are about.18By linkinggender, and in particular female lives,to the existence of domesticspheres,we have inclined,I fear,to thinkwe know the "core" of what quite different gender systemsshare, to thinkof sexual in functional hierarchiesprimarily and psychological terms,and, thus,to minimizesuch sociological considerationsas inequalityand power. We thinktoo readily of sexual identitiesas primordialacquisitions,bound thatthe "selves" children up withthe dynamicsof the home, forgetting but become include a sense, notjust of gender, of cultural identity and social class. What this means ultimately is that we fail to school ourselves in all the differentways that gender figures in the organization of social groups, to learn fromthe concretethingsthat men and women do and thinkand fromtheir sociallydeterminedvariations.It now appears to me that woman's place in human social life is not in any direct sense a product of the thingsshe does (or even less a functionof what,biologically,she is) but of the meaning her activities acquire throughconcrete And the significances of social interactions. women assign to the activities their lives are thingsthat we can only grasp throughan analysisof the thatwomen forge,the social contextsthey(along withmen) relationships create-and withinwhichtheyare defined. Gender in all human groups must, then, be understood in politicaland social terms,with reference not to biological constraintsbut instead to local and specificformsof social relationshipand, in particular, of social inequality. Justas we have no apparent cause to look for physiologicalfactswhen we attemptto understand the more familiarinequalities in human social life-such things as leadership, racial prejudice, prestige, or social class-so it seems that we would do well to thinkof biological sex, like biological race, as an excuse ratherthan a cause for any sexism we observe.
18. The issue is complex. A number of recent analystshave pointed to the way in which modern American familyideology leads us to thinkabout the roles of women as "diffuse definedby a necessaryassociationof certainfunctions altruism, (e.g., nurturance, Account A Cultural American David M. see Schneider, Kinship: solidarity"; enduring N.J.: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1968]) withcertainpersons (close kin) and in [Englewood Cliffs, particular with mothers (Sylvia Junko Yanagisako, "Women-centeredKin Networks in Urban Bilateral Kinship," AmericanEthnologist4, no. 2 [1977]: 207-26). R. Rapp ("Familyand Class in ContemporaryAmerica: Notes Towards an Understandingof Ideoland Society clear, however,that 42, no. 3 [1978]: 278-300) makes it particularly ogy,"Science the ways in which this ideology of "familialbonding" maps onto groups of coresidentsis problematicand varies with social class. Furthermore,Diane K. Lewis ("A Response to in Cultureand Inequality: Black Women, Racism, and Sexism," Signs:Journalof Women in the necessary our belief that the makes no. 2 3, 339-61) [1977]: cogent point Society oftenblindsus to the factthat,in our society, associationof women and domesticfunctions marginalization("domestication")is more a consequence than a cause for lack of power.

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Stated otherwise,I now believe that gender is not a unitaryfact determined everywhereby the same sortsof concerns but, instead, the complex product of a varietyof social forces. The most serious objections to my 1974 account have demonstrated-with good cause, I think-that "women's status"is itselfnot one but many things,thatvarious measures of women's place do not appear to correlateamong themthat few of them appear to be consistently selves, and, furthermore, related to an isolable "cause."19The failureof attemptsto rank societies in terms of "women's place" or to explain apparent variationsin the amounts of privilegewomen elsewhere may enjoy (in termsconsistent withcross-cultural data) suggeststhatwe have been pursuingsomething of a ghost-or, rather,that an investigator who asks if women's status here or thereought to be reckoned high or low is probablyconceptually misguided. To talk of women's status is to think about a social world in ultimatelydichotomous terms,wherein "woman" is universally opposed to "man" in the same ways in all contexts. Thus, we tend repeatedly to contrastand stress presumablygiven differencesbetween women and are themselvescreated by men, instead of asking how such differences gender relations. In so doing, we find ourselves the victimsof a conceptual traditionthat discovers "essence" in the natural characteristics which distinguishus frommen and then declares thatwomen's present lot derives fromwhat, "in essence," women are, portraying social roles and rules as productsnot of action and relationin a trulyhuman world, but of self-serving individualswho performby rote.

The Victorian Precedent


The notion that all human societies can be analyzed in terms of opposed domestic and public spheres-and that this opposition fits,in some way, with the social fact of male dominance-is not limited to feminist elaboresearchers. Indeed, one findsit more or less explicitly rated in a good deal of traditionalsocial scientific thought.The turn-ofsocial theorists whose writings are the basis of mostmodern the-century social thinkingtended withoutexception to assume thatwomen's place was in the home. In fact,the Victorian doctrine of separate male and female spheres was, I would suggest,quite central to theirsociology.20
19. These points are developed withreferenceto empiricaldata most fullyin recent writings by Quinn (n. 1) and Whyte(n. 10). Whyte'sfindingsmake it clear, in particular, that male dominance is not somethingthat lends itselfto rankingin cross-culturally significantterms (see n. 10). That this conclusion undermines all arguments concerning women's statusas analytically problematic-and requires that we look instead for pattern in the social structuringof gender (a conclusion very close to that of this paper)-is, however, somethingeven Whytehas barely realized. do not begin 20. Of course, the correlatedoppositions,male/female, public/domestic, withthe Victorianera; one findsthemmore or less explicitly elaborated in politicalphilos-

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Some of these thinkersrecognized that modern women sufferedfrom theirassociationwithdomestic life,but none questioned the pervasiveness (or necessity) of a splitbetween the family and society.Most never bothered to ask just why two spheres exist; rather,all assumed their fundamental differencesin sociological and moral terms and linked these to their views of the normal roles of men and women in human societies. Most obviously,perhaps, Herbert Spencer, commonlycited as the founder both of "functionalist" and "evolutionary"social thought,disclaims to politicallibertiesand rightsby arguing that paraged feminist women's "natural" place withinthe home proves a necessary complement to the more competitiveworld of men. And while some of his contemporaries feared that women's entry into public life would rob societyof its storesof altruismand love, Spencer claimed thatwomen's in the public softerheartswould undermine all shows of selfishinterest the realization(throughcompetition)of new world,therefore inhibiting formsof social excellence and strength.21 The socialistFriedrichEngels never argued that women should, by nature,staywithinthe home, but he-like Spencer-tended to assume thatwomen neverwere engaged in that public action or in sociallyproductivework and, correspondingly, women everywherehad been concerned primarilywith the activities dictatedby a maternalrole.22Similarly, Georg Simmel and Emile Durkheim, both acutely conscious of feminineoppression within familial
ophy since the timeof the Greeks (Nannerl Keohane, "Female Citizenship:The Monstrous Regiment of Women," a paper presented at the Conference for the Study of Political of all, froma conviction Thought, April 1979). My stresson the Victoriansderives,first thattheyare our mostrelevantpredecessorsin thisregard,and, second, froman intuition that the Victoriandichotomies-in theirappeal to maternity and biology-were, in fact, different fromthose thatcame before.Once it is realized thatdomestic/public significantly an ideological ratherthan an objectiveand necessaryset of terms,we can, of constitutes in formulations which may appear initially to be course, begin to explore the differences "more of the same." 21. Herbert Spencer's assumptionsabout women run throughoutvolume 1,Domestic of his multivolumePrinciples Institutions, (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1893), ofSociology in whichthe wedding of these simple assumptionsto biologyand nascent functionalism is clear. John Haller and Robin Haller (The Physician and Sexuality in Victorian America[Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1974]) provide a ratherdevastating statement of some of the historical of Spencerian misogyny, and the relationshipof sexistattitudes implications to his general theoryis explored as well in Elizabeth Fee ("The Sexual Politicsof Victorian Social Anthropology," inClio's Consciousness Raised,ed. M. Hartman and L. C. Banner [New York: Harper & Row, 1974]). My own reading of Spencer is, if anything,a bit more Of Victorianevolutionists, he paid some of the closest attentionto available sympathetic: anthropological data, and his sexist assumptions emerge, in only slightlyless offensive form,in much of his contemporaries'work. 22. For useful critical readings of Friedrich Engels's now classic The Originsof the PrivateProperty and theState(in Karl Marx and Frederick vol. 2 Works, Family, Engels: Selected [Moscow: Foreign Languages PublishingHouse, 1962]), see Sacks, "Engels Revisited"(n. Women's 10), Ann Lane ("Women in Society:A Critiqueof FrederickEngels," inLiberating ed. B. Carroll [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976]), and Eleanor Leacock History,

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an analysisbased on comrealms,describedthe sexes in termssuggesting plementaryspheres: Up to now the sociological position of the individual woman has certainpeculiar elements.The mostgeneral of her qualities,the fact thatshe was a woman and as such servedthe functions proper to her sex, caused her to be classifiedwithotherwomen under one general concept. It was exactlythis circumstancewhich removed her from the processes of group-formationin their strictsense, as well as from actual solidarity with other women. Because of her peculiar functionsshe was relegated to activitieswithin the limits of her home, confined to devote herself to a single individual, and prevented fromtranscendingthe group-relations established by marsocial and and life, riage, family, perhaps charity religion.23 ... the interests of husband and wifein marriageare . . . obviously It opposed.... originatesin the factthatthe two sexes do not share in social life.Man is actively involvedin it,whilewoman does equally little more than look on froma distance.Consequently,man is much more highlysocialized than woman.24 And though both of these theorists spoke in favorof women's increased role in "social" life, they thought as well that women were and would remain distinguishablefrom men; their woman of the future was, it seems, designed to make her mark not in the masculine sphere of politics, but-the now predictable answer came-in the more feminine arts.25 Finally, the evolutionary social history with which turn-of-thecentury feminists(like Gilman and Stanton), as well as more conPrivate ("Introductionto FrederickEngels," in The Origin and the State ofthe Family, Property in Engels's mate[New York: InternationalPublishersCo., 1972]). Contemporaryinterest rialismand his sense of variationtends to excuse his "Victorian"biases as trivial;I would argue, by contrast,that his much quoted dictum-"According to the materialist conception,the determiningfactorin history is, in the last resort,the productionand reproduction of immediate life" (Engels, pp. 170-71)-fits squarely with the individualizingand dichotomous traditioncriticizedhere and is, in verydeep ways,problematicfor a Marxist understandingof women's lives. That the banner of reproductionhas been assumed by a number of neo-Marxistand Marxist-feminist social scientists(e.g., Claude Meillassoux, et capitaux[Paris: Francoise Maspero, Librairie,S.A., 1975]; Renate BriFemmes, greniers denthal, "The Dialecticsof Productionand Reproduction in History," Radical America10, no. 2 (1976): 3-11; and Felicity Edholm, Olivia Harris,and Kate Young, "Conceptualizing Women," Critiqueof Anthropology 3, nos. 9 and 10 [1977]: 101-30) only underlines the difficulties we all face in conceptualizing the kinds of issues with which this paper is concerned. 23. Georg Simmel, Conflict and theWeb of GroupAffiliations (New York: Macmillan PublishingCo., 1955), p. 180. 24. tmile Durkheim,Suicide (Glencoe, I1l.: Free Press, 1951), pp. 384-85. 25. Ibid., and Lewis A. Coser, "Georg Simmel's Neglected Contributionsto the in Culture and Society Sociologyof Women,"Signs: 2, no. 4 (1977): 869-76. Journal ofWomen

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were concerned was rooted equally in an oppoventionalsocial theorists, sitionbetweenmaternalor domesticspheres and a more public world of in the past, men. Though manyof these thinkers wroteof matriarchies whattheymeantwas not thatwomen ruled in public lifebut,rather,that humanity'sfirstsocial formsgave women an importantplace because from domestic realms. Using public societywas not yet differentiated data they were ill equipped to understand, these theoristsassumed a timeof promiscuity and incestin the past when men had no occasion to lay claim to individual women as their own and so enjoyed undifferentiated sexual freedom in a maternal home. They claimed-in imagery that still abounds in psychological accounts of individual to compete, stake growth-that social evolution waited on male efforts and interest-governed privateclaims, and forge a differentiated public sphere while leaving "mother" in the more "natural" world where she belonged. Modern thitkers have found cause to challenge many of these claims, and I have scarcelygiven them the scrutiny nineteenth-century who would now proclaim that prior they deserve. But social scientists culturesknew no more of incestthan we know today continue in more subtlewaysto reproduce the sexistimageryand assumptionswe discern in nineteenth-century accounts. Victorian theorycast the sexes in dichotomous and contrastiveterms, describing home and woman not primarilyas they were but as they had to be, given an ideology that opposed natural, moral, and essentiallyunchanging private realms to I would the vagaries of a progressivemasculine society.And, similarly, writethatpaternity is a variableand suggestthatwhen modern theorists is a relativelyconstant and unchanging social fact whereas maternity one, constrainedby nature;26when theycontrastexpressivewithmore instrumental roles;27or, perhaps, when they distinguishmoral kinship from the bonds of selfishinterestforged in economic life;28or, then again, when they describe the differencesbetween apparently formal and informalsocial roles and formsof power-they are the nineteenth century's unwittingheirs. Indeed, contemporarythinkersreproduce and conceptuallymisleading what manyrecognize as outdated contrasts at least in partbecause we stillbelieve thatsocial being is derived terms,29
ed. 26. J. A. Barnes, "Genetrix:Gentor::Nature: Culture?" in TheCharacter ofKinship, Press, 1973). J. Goody (London: Cambridge University and Personality 27. Talcott Parsons,Social Structure (New York: Free Press, 1964); and and Socialization Morris Zelditch,"Role Differentiation in the Nuclear Family,"in Family, Interaction ed. T. Parsons and R. Bales (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1955). Process, 28. Maurice Bloch, "The Long Term and the ShortTerm: The Economic and Politiof the Moralityof Kinship,"in Goody. cal Significance 29. That the classic Parsonian assumptions about inherently differentiated instrumentaland expressive "functions"(e.g., Parsons, p. 59) in interactionmay, in large part,be the product of an ideological evaluation of the activities appropriate to different and Society Culture (and implicitly (n. gendered) "spheres" is suggested in Rosaldo, Women,

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fromessences thatstand outside of social process. Life in a social world our more naturalfromour constructed social bonds is thatdifferentiates then interpretedin termsof stereotypedviews of what in essence men and women are, views linking women to maternity and the home in opposition to what anthropologistsnow would call the political-jural sphere of public society. Withinthe social sciences,the earlytwentieth saw a rejection century of earlier schools of evolutionarythoughtin favorof a search for functionallygrounded universals.Biological families, throughthe researches of Malinowskiand Radcliffe-Brown, came to be seen as necessaryand born out of our mostbasic human needs instead virtually presocial facts, of evolutionary progress.30 But, casting needs as universal, anthropologists had stillto thinkof change, and in order to account for the and complexityof reported kinship forms,they found themdiversity selves required to reinstate-although in somewhat less gendered and considerablymore sophisticatedterms-the nineteenth-century opposition between a female sphere of familyand an inherentlymasculine came to see, is not a natural,biological, society.Kinship,anthropologists or genealogical factbut, instead,a moldingof presumed tiesof blood in termsofjural norms and rules constructedby human societies. But at the same timethattheyrecognized thatkinshipalwayshas a public,jural
and expressive 10). For a useful critiqueof the analyticalopposition betweeninstrumental withinfunctionalist and, more generally,of assumptionsabout differentiation sociology, see Veronica Beechy, "Women and Production: A CriticalAnalysisof Some Sociological ed. Annette Kuhn and Annand Materialism, Theories of Women's Work," in Feminism Marie Wolpe (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978). Judith Irvine's recent critique, in CommunicativeEvents" (American 81, no. 4 Anthropologist "Formalityand Informality but and informality comes froma different [1979]: 773-90), of the concepts of formality forour purposes is thatshe shows at once thatthe relevantperspective.What is interesting are problematicat best and, further distinction of the formal/informal empiricalreferents is rooted in the way it thatthe intuitive (as withdomestic/public), appeal of thisdistinction "styles."This promises to connect aspects of social "function"withobserved interactional functionallinkage is then called into question. 30. My characterizationhere followsclosely on Meyer Fortes (Kinship and theSocial to "the Order[Chicago: Aldine PublishingCo., 1969]), who points out thata commitment familialorigins of... kinship systems"(p. 49) was importantto Malinowski,whose The (New York: Schocken Books, 1963) was specifically FamilyamongtheAustralian Aborigines intended as an argument for universals,and to A. R. Radcliffe-Brown ("The Social Organization of AustralianTribes," Oceania 1 [1930]: 34-63, 206-46, 322-41, 426-56), who himself assumed a familial,or genealogical, "core" to kinship,although Radcliffe-Brown was interestedin more variablejural realms. The Australian aborigines have for a long timeenjoyed the questionable statusof"prototypicalprimitive" (theyfigurecentrally, e.g., in Durkheim'sTheElementary Forms and Taboo),and so Lifeand Freud's Totem ofthe Religious the "discovery"thattheytoo have "families"was crucial foruniversalist thought.Fortes is fromgenealogismbut not absolutely:"I regard the political concerned to dissociatehimself to the familialaspect of kinshiprelations"(p. 73): in a world jural aspect as complementary and of two spheres, nature and culture remain of equal analyticalstatus,complementary distinct.

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sense, theystillinsistedthat the various and politicaluses of kinshipto articulate froma bonds of lineage,clan, or caste were to be distinguished more universal kinshipessence, with,of course, a bit of nature-most a family, particularly genealogy,or maternal grouping-at its source.31 In its most fully articulated contemporary form, domestic and jural-politicalnow contrastin termsof normativepremises that divide those inner realmsdefinedby the prescriptive altruismwe thinkbelongs withinthe home from the outer spheres subjected to external rule by contract,law, and force.32And though most writersnow would claim that this divisioncarries no assumptionsabout sex, theiractual characterizations of the opposed spheres in fact reflect stereotyped nineviews of necessary sexual dichotomy.Thus, domestic teenth-century are not defined as women's nor are women seen as necessarily spheres limitedto the home; but most theorizingabout domestic spheres preof all theirnormativeopposition to (male) jural realms and, sumes first bonds assecond, their basis in the universal,and inherently altruistic, with the have sociated mother-infant carefully dyad.33Anthropologists distinguished the term "family" (a group of kinsfolk) from that of "household" (a space), and these, in turn,fromclaims concerninggenBut in actual fact,we der roles with referenceto domestic functions.34
31. David Schneider ("What Is Kinship All About?" in KinshipStudiesin theMorgen Centennial D.C.: AnthropologicalSocietyof WashYear,ed. PriscillaReining [Washington, of ington,1972]) discusses the genealogizingtendencyin mostanthropologicaltreatments kinship by relating it to yet another piece of our modern, dichotomizingideology, a and see as necessarily the ordersof natureand of tendencyto discriminate complementary law. SylviaYanagisako's reviewof studies of family and kinship("Familyand Household: The Analysisof Domestic Groups,"AnnualReview 8 [1979]: 161-205) traces ofAnthropology the relationshipbetweenassumptionsabout genealogyand domesticspheres. The particular conundrumswe confrontwhen trying to thinkabout apparentlyuniversal"facts"like kinship-especially once we recognize that would-be analytical terms are rooted in ideology-is discussed, from differentpoints of view, by Andrew Strathern("Kinship, Descent and Locality:Some New Guinea Examples," in Goody [n. 26]) and Steve Barnett and MartinSilverman(Ideology and Everyday of MichiganPress, Life[Ann Arbor: University 1979]). 32. My characterizationhere leans heavilyon Yanagisako, "Family and Household: The Analysis of Domestic Groups," which is a criticaldiscussion of Fortes's analytical framework (see n. 30). 33. Fortes speaks, e.g., about the "matricentral to TheDevelcell," in his introduction Cyclein Domestic opmental Groups,ed. J. Goody (London: Cambridge UniversityPress, of social relationsthrough 1958), p. 8, and argues that"the domesticdomain is the system whichthe reproductivenucleus is integratedwiththe environment and withthe structure of the total society"(p. 9). In characterizing the familial,as opposed to the political-jural, and trustparents component of meaning in kinshiprelations,he contrasts"the affection of the parentsand thesubordination and childrenhave forone another"withthe "authority of the children" (Fortes, p. 64). My suggestion,of course, is that this contrastdoes not derive fromactual social relationships "out there"but, rather,thatits"sense" is necessarily located in a particular,Western,highlygendered ideology. 34. For one of the clearestdiscussionsof these distinctions, see Donald R. Bender, "A Refinementof the Concept of Household: Families, Co-Residence and Domestic Func-

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findthatwhat domesticmeans is the locale where kinfolkshare a living fashspace and mothersdo the day-by-day providing.In complementary would claim thatthe political-jural ion, no contemporary anthropologist sphere is always,or exclusively,the concern of men, but available accounts of the political relationships that organize, link, and divide domestic groups assume that men shape public (and so, ultimately, priand public authority. vate) life because they have both selfishinterests Our analytical tradition,in short, has preserved the nineteenthcenturydivisioninto inherently gendered spheres and, in doing so, has cast one presumablybasic social factnot in moral or relationaltermsbut, is rather,in individualistic ones, whereinthe shape of social institutions understood as a reflection of individual needs, resources, or implicitly realms but do not biology.Thus, we contrastfamilywithpolitical-jural for instance,the sphere of speak of "opposition" when distinguishing, law fromthatof work,religiousfaith, or school,because we see the latter as the productof real human history and work.In contrast, home versus sense, at leastin part,because it public lifeappears to have a transhistoric corresponds to our long-standingideological terms contrastinginner and outer, love and interest, natural and constructedbonds, and men's and women's natural activities and styles.As we have seen, thereis some cause to think that our acceptance of these dichotomous terms makes sense; but at the same time, it would now appear that understandings shaped by oppositional modes of thought have been-and will most likelyprove themselvesto be-inherently problematic for those of us who hope to understand the lives that women lead within human societies.35 Having conceptualized the family as something other than the world,we are thenled to thinkthatthingslike love and altruism, gender,
tions,"American 69, no. 5 (1967): 493-504; and Yanagisako, "Family and Anthropologist Household: The Analysis of Domestic Groups." Lila Leibowitz's recent book, Females, Males,Families(North Scituate,Mass.: Duxbury Press, 1978), does a first-rate job of documentingvariationin structureand functionin both primateand human familialgroups and, in doing so, challenges all attemptsto give a unitary, functionalist account of either she seems to forgether own best advice when she gender roles or families.Unfortunately, then attempts(unsuccessfully, I think)to come up witha cross-cultural definition of the familythat lacks functionalist presuppositions. In addition, she diverges from my own to account for the emergence of familialgroups in a manner thatcasts approach in trying familiesas the creationsof individual needs, which in some sense "precede" society. 35. For a closely related statement,see Patricia Caplan and Janet M. Burge, eds., Women Women Divided (London: Tavistock Publications,1978). There the authors United, as a formulationis that it fails to help us argue that the problem with domestic/public conceptualize the nature of the "articulation"among spheres, and theysuggest that this articulation should be understood with reference to relations of production. See also BridgetO'Laughlin, "Productionand Reproduction: Meillassoux's 'Femmes, greniersand 2, no. 8 (1977): 3-32, for a critiqueof a related set of capitaux,'" Critique ofAnthropology oppositions as inherently incompatiblewiththe studyof relationships.

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the organization of kinship,and the textureof familiallife cannot be as a adequately understood in termsthatwe would use to analyze society whole. Thus, anthropologists willargue thatkinshipmustbe understood as a phenomenon in and of itself,36 much as many feminists proclaim that sociology is not enough to understand sex/genderorders.37That conventionalsociology(including much of Marxistsocial thought) is as yet ill equipped to understand the way all human social life depends upon our forms of feeling and belief is an observation that these theoristspass by.38 A related point is that-not only for anthropologists but for sociologists and social historians as well-most studies of domestic core; and so, groupingstend to presuppose theiruniversaldeep familial while asking how and whydomesticspheres expanded or collapsed, few of familialbonds or ask how varying analystsprobe the various contents within the home influencerelationshipsoutside it. might relationships The fact that people elsewhere do not view domestic groupings as the closed familialgroups we know,thatwarmthand altruismare rarelythe unique prerogativesof close coresident kin-in short, that we cannot presume to knowjust what,in any given case, it means to be a parent, sibling,spouse, or child-are thingstoo rarelyprobed because we start by thinkingthat we know just what the answers are. Our studies of domestic groups report their demographic flux and demonstratehow in public life can shape such thingsas residentialchoice and authority of aspects familialpolitics.But it remains the case that anthropological accounts,at least, have more to say about the organizationof the public sphere (and so of male pursuits)than of real variationsin domesticlife because we think that social process works "from outside in."39 The
36. Fortes, pp. 219-49. 37. This issue runs through Marxist-feminist discussion (see, e.g., contemporary Kuhnand Wolpe,n. 29 above);fora deep and telling ofthis statement (onewith position whichI findmyself in sympathy, if not agreement), in see GayleRubin,"The Traffic in Reiter and Job Women," (n. 8 above);also Heidi Hartmann, Patriarchy, "Capitalism, in Culture andSociety 1, no. 3, pt. 2 (1975): by Sex,"Signs: ofWomen Segregation Journal 137-69. 38. Mycharacterization is notentirely forattitudes, consinceconcerns fair, culture, thereproduction of ideology are long-standing issuesin sciousness, or,in Marxist terms, socialscience.Still, withthe failure of social one getsthe feeling thatfeminist distress science to addressissuesof genderin thepastfeedsa sensethatgender as a sociological issueis inherently different from other ofsocialorganization with for aspects implications somesort of nonconventional (and,usually, identity, demanding personal psychologically the account. is that our frustration from stems, first, oriented) Myownsense, bycontrast, failure ofsociological torelate insystematic toother kinds ofinequality theory ways gender theinadequacies of a utilitarian tradition thathas made it extremely and, second,from difficult to conceptualize thesociological or of humanconsciousness, culture, significance thought. 39. Yanagisako documented thispointin "Family and Household"(n. 31) witha number of ethnographic thatvariation in domestic examples. Againand againshe found nor is it giventhe descriptive or conceptual spheresis not deemed deeplyinteresting with morepublicorjural realms. attention associated

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contentsof what we view as women's world is somethingall too readily conceptualized as shaped either by natural constraints or by the dynamismassociated withmen, theirpublic dealings, and authority. My point in citingprecedentslike these is not, however,to proclaim thatpeople now should look inside the home; certainly manysociologists have done this. Nor do I thinkthat in recognizingwomen's ties to the domestic sphere we would do well to work frominside out in trying to rethinkthe nature of the familyor to reconceptualize women's lives. flatand unilluminating Rather,I would suggestthatthe typically picture of women that appears in most conventionalaccounts is bound up with difficulties thatemerge wheneverwe assume thatfeminine theoretical or domestic spheres can be distinguishedfrom the larger world of men because of their presumably panhuman functions. And insofar as feminists are willing to accept this kind of virtuallypresocial and unchanging base for women's lives, their explorations of the worlds of women will remain a mere addition-and not a fundamental traditional of social formsas the creways understanding challenge-to ation of the lives and needs of men. The most serious deficiency of a model based upon two opposed in in with the dualisms of the past, its alliance short, spheres appears, dichotomieswhichteach thatwomen mustbe understoodnot in termsof relationship-with other women and with men-but of differenceand "Tied down" by functions we imagine to belong to mothers apartness.40 and the home, our sistersare conceptualized as beingswho presently are, and have at all timesbeen, the same, not actorsbut mere subjectsof male action and femalebiology.And feminists reveal themselves the victims of this past when their accounts attempt to focus our attentionon the important things that women do, by adding variables that concern domestic roles, maternity, and reproductivelife.41

The ExampleofSimpleSocieties
Feminist research began-to borrow Marx's phrase-by turning conventionalsortsof tools to sociology"on itshead" and using relatively new kinds of I Much as forge arguments. argued in 1974 for the imof in attention to domestic order to understand the portance spheres
40. June Nash, "The Aztecs and the Ideology of Male Dominance" (Signs:Journalof Women in Culture and Society 4, no. 2 [1978]: 349-62), and June Nash and Eleanor Leacock, "Ideologies of Sex: Archetypesand Stereotypes(AnnalsoftheNew York Academy of Science 285 [1977]: 618-45) have suggested that such dualisms as nature/culture and domestic/ public are rooted less in other cultures' "reality"than in our modern Western ideology. their critique stops at the level of debunking Western Capitalism Bias, Unfortunately, I think, an alternative without, and to the probformulating adequate bothto our intuitions lem (understandinggender) at hand. 41. Again, it seems to me thatthisis the inclinationin a good deal of Marxist-feminist and research (see nn. 21, 34, and 35). writing

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place of women in human social life, so the 1970s saw a number of essentially comparable attemptsto "turnthe tables" by a wide range of feministsocial scientists.For some, discovering women's world42 or sphere43was an analyticalfirst step. An emphasis on informalroles44or muted expressive forms45 provided a criticalstartingpoint for others. One of the most importantdevelopmentsin anthropology was the chala number of writers of a account feminist traditional thatcelelenge by brated the evolutionaryfirststeps achieved by Man the Hunter.46 In order to clarify on the my argumentsabove, I want to commentbriefly which to Woman the Gatherer came undermine what had process by been Man the Hunter's pride of place and then go on to argue thatour newfound gathering women are, in fact, the direct heirs of hunting men, in that each is cast withina sexually stereotypedsphere that isempirically-problematicand-conceptually-one more instanceof our tendencyto thinkwithinthe individualizingand biologistictermsthat underlie Victoriandichotomies. the 1960s saw a flowering of anthropologicalinterestconBriefly, cerning three related themes: human evolution,the nature of primate social life,and the organizationof simple (and so, itwas inferred, ancessocieties.The research,overwhelmingly informed tral) hunter-gatherer by ecological and adaptationistconcerns, led on the one hand to the recognitionthat in most of the world's huntinggroups, women in fact supplied most of humanity'sfood as gatherersand collectorsof small but game. But at the same time,scholarsargued thatitwas not gathering the huntingof large game that moved our primate ancestorsover the abyssthatseparates humanityfromthe brute naturalworld. Hunters,it was argued, needed language-and thereforelarge brains-in order to communicateand plan; and in designing weapons they made further skillsin artistry and makingtools.47 strides,providingman withhis first
42. Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, "The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century in Cultureand America,"Signs:Journalof Women 1, no. 1 (1975): 1-30. Society 43. Nancy F. Cott,TheBondsof Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere"in New England,17801835 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1977). 44. Susan Rogers,"Female Formsof Power" (n. 9); Susan Rogers,"Woman's Place: A CriticalReviewof Anthropological Studies in Society and History 20, no. Theory,"Comparative 1 (1978): 123-62; and Beverly L. Chifas, The Isthmus Roles in Cultural Zapotecs:Women's Context (New York: Holt, Rinehart& Winston, 1973). 45. E. Ardener (n. 2 above). 46. Sally Slocum, "Woman the Gatherer: Male Bias in Anthropology," in Reiter(n. 8 above); Nancy Tanner and Adrienne Zihlman,"Women in Evolution. Part I: Innovation and Selectionin Human Origins,"Signs:Journal in Culture and Society 1, no. 3, pt. ofWomen 1 (1976): 585-608; and Adrienne Zihlman, "Women in Evolution. Part II: Subsistence and Social Organization among Early Hominids," Signs:Journalof Women in Culture and 4, no. 1 (1978): 4-20. Society 47. E.g., Sherwood L. Washburnand C. S. Lancaster,"The Evolutionof Hunting,"in Man theHunter,ed. R. Lee and I. DeVore (Chicago: Aldine PublishingCo., 1968).

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the feministresponse to this account began by Not surprisingly, had undulyslightedwomen'scentral tradition arguing thatour scholarly place. Writings throughthe 1970s traced a complex set of linksconnecting the decline in human groups of large carnivorouspointyteeth,the emergence of opposable thumbs,the rise in skillrequiringlarger brains in order to coordinate eye and hand, and, finally, the factthat human femalesneeded larger pelvises in order to accommodate and bear their large-brainedyoung. These females,in the new account, adopted uprightpostures which ultimately permittedthem to exploit the environment within new ways. The feministaccount points out as well that human infants mustbe born withbrainsstillrelatively immature,requiring prolonged periods of dependency and adult care. Thus, itmusthave been for females a necessity,of sorts,to forge at once the social and productiveskillsthatwould permitthemto provide forboth dependent offspringand themselves. Furthermore,females are thought to have been concerned to find not violentbut cooperative males as mates, in hopes of winningmales to serve as theirassistantsand providers.So it was, the storygoes, thatfemalesmanaged to create our basic social skills and diggingtools; also-because of (like language) and our first basketry theirconcern forthe infantyoung-they managed, throughselection,to create an Adam who would understand and help. With good reason, this new account has won considerable esteem. Using formsof argumentand data thathad fueled an obviouslydeficient and male-biased traditionalaccount, it not only made good sense but corresponded well with what ethnographershad observed of women's action in contemporaryhunting groups-in particular,their very real autonomy and self-regard.Hardly passive stay-at-homes dependent on the willof men who bringthemgame, women in hunter-gatherer groups appear, in general, to enjoy a lifeas flexibleand relatively egalitarianas any yet reported. But at the same timethatWoman the Gathererhas, in fact,begun to it seems to me thatthisrevisedaccount is farfrom set the record straight, if we what seek is not simplyan appreciation of the contriadequate, bution women make but instead an understandingof how these women The account insists, organized theirlivesand claims in any actual society. withreason, that our gatheringsistersdid importantthings;but it cannot explain why hunting peoples never celebrated women's deeds so necessaryto human survival.Indeed, if we appeal to the contemporary evidence for what it might say about the past, hunting peoples celebrate-both in all male and in collective rites-not gathering or childbirth but ratherthe transcendentrole of hunters.Man the Hunter boasts about his catch,and women choose as lovers able hunters;but in no reportare we informedof women celebrated fortheirgatheringskill or granted special recognitionbecause of their success as mothers. Yet more serious, perhaps, Woman the Gatherer as presentlypor-

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a biologicalbeing whose concerns are dictated trayedis overwhelmingly by her reproductiverole. She seeks a male who will impregnateand, perhaps, provide; but she has no cause to forge-or to resist-ongoing adult bonds, or to create and use ajural order made of regular expectaWoman the Gathererseems a being tions,norms,and rules. If anything, who is contentunto herself;absorbed in what in factappear as relatively domesticchores, she frees her male associates to engage in riskyhunts, forgewider bonds, and so, again, she allows Man the upper hand, permittinghim to make the social whole.48That youthfulmen in actual hunter-gatherergroups appear much more concerned than women of theirown; that women do both to marryand to have new offspring not look eitherto husbands or sons for meat (but rather,throughtheir lovers,or brothers); earlymarriedyears,are likelyto depend on fathers, that mother-child bonds are fragilebecause women urge sons to leave but sexuality;thatmen the natal sphere and celebratenot femalefertility in order to in almosteveryhuntinggroup willsay they"exchange" sisters that women typically find their autonomy conget wives; and finally, and strainedby threatsof masculine rape and violence-are systematic recurrentfeaturesof the social life in hunter-gatherer groups that an account thatdwells eitheron men's or women's roles (or startsby studying familieswithoutattendingto the linksbetween familialgroups and overarchingsocial process) cannot begin to understand. I cannot detail here the contours of an alternativeapproach, but I some possible directions.In recentresearch would like to suggestbriefly by Jane Collier and myself,we have been concerned to stressnot the activitiesof women-or of men-alone; instead, we are attemptingto convey the ways in which a sexual divisionof labor in all human social complex formsof interdependence, groups is bound up withextremely In particular,we note that in most hunterpolitics,and hierarchy.49 feed gatherergroups,women feed husbands but men do not necessarily their wives, nor do sexually mature unmarried men spend bachelor years displaying their potential as providers. Instead, what seems to happen is thatwomen tend the hearth,feeding childrenand adult men who are associated with them as brothers,fathers,or husbands. And what thismeans for men is thattheyeithereat at the hearthsof women who enjoy a primary, maritaltie to someone otherthan themselves-and
48. Amusingly(ifdistressingly), thisview is mostexplicitin CharlottePerkinsGilman, Women and Economics (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), in whichshe argues thatwomen, once dominant,gave the business of "building society"over to men in order to win their cooperation. 49. The research referredto is explicated in M. Rosaldo and Jane Collier's forthcoming paper, "Sex and Politicsin Simple Societies,"in Sexual Meanings,ed. S. Ortner and H. Whitehead (in press). In addition,Jane Collier's recent unpublished manuscript,"Womin Three Nineteenth-Century en's Work, Marriage and Stratification Plains Tribes," provides, I think,the fullesttheoreticaland descriptiveexplication of the perspectiveadvoStanfordUniversity). cated here (available fromthe author,Departmentof Anthropology,

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so experience theirsubordinationto a nonwife'shusband-or else they have a wife and fireof their own and so consider themselvesas social adults. A social hierarchyis thus created which ranks married over unmarried men and so makes men want to marry.And men get married not by winningmaidens' heartsbut, rather,by givinggame and labor to the in-lawswho alone can then persuade young women to assume the role. Happy to win immediategifts both of affection and of game wifely from lovers whom they do not have to feed, most women have small cause to seek a spouse, because theyrest assured of the protectionand support of fathersand brothers.Women may use theirsexual appeal to undermine, support, or stimulate initiativesby men. But in a world where men-and not women-have good cause to win and make claims in a spouse, only men are recognized and described as persons who actively create the deep affinal bonds that organize society. Thus, whereas men in makinglove make claims thatstand to forgealliancesor perhaps cause conflict by disputingclaims of equal men-female sexualityis seen more as a stimulant(demanding celebration)or an irritant (requiring control by rape) than as an active force in organizing social life. In fact,the reason Man the Hunter is so oftencelebrated in these groups is that young suitors give their in-laws game in order to dramatize affinalclaims and to win their support in an endeavor to secure much-needed loyalty and servicesfroma (quite reasonably) unwillingwife. To speak of sexual asymmetry in these groups is not, therefore,to claim that all "men ... exercise control,"50 or that all women, unlike men, are apt to be excluded from the public world because of care required by young families.Children constrainwomen, not fromspeaking out, but instead fromdabbling in the pleasant politicsof sex. And sexual politics, much more thanchild care itself, appears to be the center of mostof these women's lives. Servicesexpected of women in the home make sense not as extensions of maternal chores but, rather, as concomitantsof male hierarchies;and women celebrate theirsexual selves because it is in termsof sexual claims that people of both sexes at once organize and challenge their enduring social bonds. In the end, the preeminence enjoyed by men in groups like these appears to have as much to do withthe significance of marriageforrelationships among the men themselves-relationshipsthat make wives somethingto achieveas it does with sexual opposition or a more brute male dominance. Though male threatsof forcemay check such women as mightsee fitto rebel, the fact remains that women rarelyseem oppressed, but at best limited,by the simple fact that theycannot enjoy the highest prize of
50. Robin Fox, Kinshipand Marriage (Harmondsworth,Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1967), p. 31.

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male politicallife: the statusof a hunter who enjoys a wife and private hearth. Woman the Gatherer was discovered in an attemptto clarifyour accounts of "how it all began" and to challenge those accounts which presuppose a necessary and natural foundation for male dominance. But I have sketchedthe outlines of an alternativeapproach because it seemed to me that Woman the Gatherer failed (much like her more silentsistersof the past), in sociologicaland ethnographicterms,to help us understandjust what,in simple hunter-gatherer groups, a woman's life is all about. The problem, I suggested,lay in an attemptto understand the formsof female action and the woman's role by asking,"What did early woman do?" and not, "What kinds of bonds and expectations or productive, facts shaped her life?"Assumingthatbrutereproductive, (the food theybring,the childrentheygive life) definewhat women are and mean, thisviewcasts all women,initially, as mothers.Thus, much as with domestic/publicand related analytic frames, women are confrommen, instead of as ceptualized as biological beings, differentiated men's partnersand/orcompetitors in an ongoing and constraining social process.51 is a political and My alternativeis to insistthat sexual asymmetry social fact,much less concerned withindividualresourcesand skillsthan with relationshipsand claims that guide the ways that people act and shape their understandings.Thus, it appears to me that if we are to graspjust what it is thatwomen lack or men enjoy-and withwhat sorts of consequences-what we require are not accounts of how it all began, like thatsketchedabove, whichanalyze the but theoreticalperspectives, men as aspects of a wider social context.If of women and relationships men, in makingmarriages,appear to be the actorswho create the social world, our task is neitherto accept this factas adequate in sociological female action, to deny it. Instead, we termsnor to attempt, by stressing must begin to analyze the social processes that give appearances like
51. Donna Haraway's "Animal Sociologyand a Natural Economy of the Body Politic, Parts I and II" (Signs:Journalof Women in Cultureand Society 4, no. 1 [1978]: 21-60) on and evolutionary ideologyin recentprimatology thoughtshows how Tanner and Zihlman, in particular,are using the analytical presuppositionsof sociobiology to make a most unsociobiologicalargument.Haraway does not claim thatthisapproach is wrong,but she does urge caution. My argumenthere develops what I take to be Haraway's intention.In particular, I have suggested at a number of points that an approach that assumes or of biologicalreproduction postulates"opposed spheres" and/orthe "obvious" significance (and motherhood)is wedded in fairly deep waysto the biases associatedwith"methodological individualism"in sociology. "Two spheres" tend, we have seen, to reflectwhat are taken as (biologicallygiven) individual needs and capacities; therefore,it is only on the assumption that societyis the simple product of the individuals who compose it that an analysis in terms of two spheres makes sense. Sociobiology makes this assumption. My point has been to call it into question by stressingthat it is only by understandingsocial that we will grasp the significance, in any given case, of individualcapacities relationships and constraints.

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these their sense, to ask just how it comes about-in a world where people of both sexes make choices thatcount-that men come to be seen as the creators of collective good and the preeminent force in local politics. Finally, I would suggest, if these become the questions that guide our research,we willdiscoveranswersnot in biologicalconstraints or in a morphologyof functionally differentiated spheres but,rather,in specificsocial facts-forms of relationshipand thought-concerning inequality and hierarchy.

Conclusion
I began this paper by suggestingthat the time has come for us to research pause and reflect critically upon the sortsof questions feminist has posed for anthropology.Rather than quarrel withthe blatantlyinaccurate accounts in textslikeWomen's or TheFirst Evolution Sex, I argued that our most serious problem lies, not in the futilequest for matriarchies in the past, but in our very tendency to cast questions firstin universalizingtermsand to look for universaltruthsand origins. It seems likelyto me thatsexual asymmetry can be discovered in all human social groups, just as can kinship systems, marriages, and mothers.But asking"Why?"or "How did itbegin?"appears inevitably to turnour thoughtsfroman account of the significance of gender forthe forms(and, reciprocally, of the organizationof all human institutional of all social facts to toward dichotomous significance gender) assumptions that link the roles of men and women to the different thingsthat they,as individuals,are apt to do-things which forwomen, in particular, are all too readilyexplained by the apparentlyprimordialand unchanging facts of sexual physiology.52 My earlier account of sexual in terms of the inevitable asymmetry rankingof opposed domestic and is one I am willingto reject for being that not, then, public spheres I have that the reasons that account made Rather, wrong. suggested sense are to be found not in empiricaldetail,but in the categories,biases, and limitations of a traditionally individualistic and male-oriented sociology.In fact,I now would claim thatour desire to thinkof women in terms of a presumed "firstcause" is itselfrooted in our failure to
52. My argument with biologism operates on two levels. Men and women both, of course, have bodies, and in some sense our biologicalnaturedoes constrainwhat we can be (we cannot live under wateror flyin the sky).More deeply, I would not question thatthere are important "interactions" betweensuch thingsas hormonesand behavioraldispositions, like aggression. What I do object to, first, in theoreticalterms,is a tendencyto thinkthat social relationships"reflect" and ultimately are "builtupon" presumed biological givens (a tendencyassociated withmethodologicalindividualism[see n. 48]). And second, strategibase we tend to thinkof cally, I am disturbedthat when we look to finda biological first women's lives as shaped by biological "constraints," whereas the "in-born"characteristic mostusuallyassociated withmen-aggression-tends to be seen, if as a source of anything, freedomand a ground for the creation of constructive social bonds.

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understand adequately that the individuals who create social resocial creations.Because we tend to lationshipsand bonds are themselves thinkof human social formsas a reflection of the individualswho give them life,we then find cause to fear that women's social roles as presentlyobserved are based upon what some mightclaim all women are: not human actors-social adults-but reproducing mothers. At much the same time, the traditionalassumptions which inform a mode of thought that sees in all domestic groupings an unchanging nurturant and altruisticcore-in opposition to the more contingentbonds that make for more encompassing social orders-lead us repeatedly to reinstatethe thingswe fearby castingwomen's roles in particularas something other than the product of human action in concrete, historical societies. Thus, withoutdenyingthat biological factslike reproductionleave theirmark on women's lives, I would insistthat factsof thissort do not themselves explain or help us to describesexual hierarchiesin relationto either domestic or public life. To claim that familyshapes women is, to forgetthat familiesthemselvesare thingsthat men and ultimately, women actively create and thatthese varywithparticularsof social context. And just as families(in social and cultural terms) are far more various (and less ubiquitous) than most scholars have assumed, so gender inequalities are hardly universal in their implicationsor theirconto and are in turnshaped byall tents.The roles the sexes playcontribute other inequalitiesin theirsocial world,be these the splitbetweena hunting husband and dependent bachelor youth or the relationship of capitalistto worker in our own society.In every case, the shapes that gender takes-and so, the possibilitiesand implications of a sexual politics-are thingsto be interpretedin politicaland social terms,that of the relationshipsand opportunitiesmen and women speak initially in order then to comprehend how they may come to be may enjoy, in terms of interests, opposed images, or styles. I cannot begin here to add to the fast-growing literature on women's in our It social form. seems relevant to place contemporary my argument,however,to observe that one way gender is bound up withmodern capitalistsocial life is that a central qualitywe believe that women in popular accountsof how itis lack,aggression,figuresoverwhelmingly that some men fail and some succeed. I do not for one moment think thathormonesmake forthe success of businessmenor the failings of the that nor us understand the subsocial fact of female poor, they help ordination.But what I would suggestis thatin our society talkof natural aggressiveand assertivedrivesis one way thatsexismand otherformsof social inequalityare interlinked. It seems no accident,for instance,that the author of TheInevitability citeshormonaldata in order to ofPatriarchy that women, proclaim lackingaggression,are destined neverto succeed. No reader of the ethnographyon contemporaryhunting groups

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would claim thatcapitalistcompetitivedrives are verycloselytied to the qualities and skillsthat make for a successfulhusband/ quite different hunter.But havingrecognizedthatinequalitiesin politicaland economic terms are, though universal, intelligibleonly in their locally specific forms,we must now come to understand how much the same is true of inequalitieswe naturalizeby talkingabout sex. Questions of originsmay find their answers in a storybased on functionaloppositions between spheres. But both the question and response teach us to locate women's "problem" in a domain apart-and so to leave men happily in their traditionalpreserve,enjoyingpower and creatingsocial rules, while,of course, ignoring women in the process. So doing, they fail to help us understand how men and women both participatein and help to reformsthatmayoppress, liberate, produce the institutional join, or divide them. What traditional social scientistshave failed to grasp is not that sexual asymmetries exist but that theyare as fullysocial as the hunter's or the capitalist'srole, and that theyfigurein the veryfacts,like racism and social class, that social science claims to understand. A crucial task for feminist scholars emerges, then, not as the relatively limitedone of documentingpervasive sexism as a social fact-or showing how we can now hope to change or have in the past been able to surviveit. Instead, it seems thatwe are challenged to provide new waysof linkingthe particulars of women's lives,activities, and goals to inequalities whereverthey exist. Department ofAnthropology University Stanford

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