Women and Men: Cultural Constructs of Gender (4th Edition)

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9780131114760: Women and Men: Cultural Constructs of Gender (4th Edition)

A cross-cultural study of gender roles and relationships, this book presents a synthesis of a wide range of ethnographic and historical data concerning the roles of women and men in wide range of different kinds of societies--with a focus on both material conditions and ideological valuations that affect and reflect cultural models of gender. First looks at the impact of material conditions on gender roles: Foragers; Farmers; Agricultural States; Industrial Economy: The United States; and Women and Global Economic Development. Then explores ideological constraints on gender constructs: Gender and the Body; Gender and Religion; Gender and Language. For anyone interested in gender roles from an anthropological, sociological, and psychological perspective.

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From the Publisher:

This book presents a cross-cultural study of gender roles and relationships. It also discusses the impact of historical change on gender roles and relations.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface

This book aims to present a synthesis of a wide range of ethnographic and historical data concerning the roles of women and men in different kinds of societies. It focuses on both material conditions and ideological valuations that affect and reflect cultural models of gender.

The third edition of Women and Men: Cultural Constructs of Gender contains a new chapter, a revision of chapters on gender and language, as well as expanded discussions of a number of topics interspersed throughout the book. The new chapter (7), "Global Economic Development," discusses the effects of economic development programs on women's and men's economic, social, and political roles. Chapter 10, "Gender and Language," is a revision of material covered in two chapters in the previous edition. It combines data on language and language from English and from several non-Indo-European languages spoken in other parts of the world.

Part 1: The Impact of Material Conditions on Gender Roles

Chapter 1 considers the notion of gender as a social construct. It discusses interrelationships of gender and other aspects of culture (economy, social and political organization, and religion), which form the basis for the presentation of data and theory in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 2 considers gender roles and relations in several societies whose economic base is centered on foraging. Comparison is made between the Ju/'hoansi ( ju-TWAN-si) in Namibia and Botswana and the Inuit and Inupiat of Arctic Canada and Alaska.

Gender roles in pastoral and farming societies are discussed in Chapter 3. The groups considered include nomadic pastoral societies of the American Plains, mixed pastoral and farming societies (the Navajo, Nuer, and Luo), and horticultural societies such as the Iroquois of North America, the Yanomamo and Jivaro of the Amazon, and the Igbo of Nigeria.

In Chapter 4 is a discussion of gender roles in stratified societies, concentrating on peoples of the Canadian Pacific coast (the Haida and Tlingit), the Kpelle of Liberia, the Mpondo of the Transkei, and the Tonga of Polynesia. Interrelationship between increased stratification and gender inequality is demonstrated to varying degrees in these societies.

The existence of marked gender inequality in agricultural states is discussed in Chapter 5, exemplified by the Incan society of Peru and the modern states of India and China. Chapter 6 analyzes the historical development of industrialization in the United States in terms of its use of and impact on gender inequalities in preexisting societies. Utilization of women's labor in early industrialization and the subsequent marginalization of women in advanced industrial nations are discussed. Finally, Chapter 7 reviews processes of global economic development and demonstrates their effect on women's and men's roles and relationships.

Part 2: Ideological Constraints on Gender Constructs

Chapter 8 examines several worldwide issues concerning the interrelationships among gender, health, and survival. It also contains a new, detailed discussion of a third gender, a social category existing in many native cultures of North America that was distinct from the genders of woman and man. In addition, women's so-called reproductive illnesses—namely, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal disorders—are discussed as examples of societal attitudes that label women's normal biological functions as illnesses requiring control and correction.

The function of religious beliefs and practices in justifying and reinforcing gender roles and relations is the focus of Chapter 9. It now includes three new sections on topics dealing with gender and religion. Female genital mutilation is described and analyzed within the context of negative attitudes toward women's sexuality and the social/religious justifications given to control and punish women's natural desires. A discussion of religion and homosexuality examines religious proscriptions against and prescriptions for sexual relations between members of the same sex. And, finally, the chapter includes a review of some tendencies within the women's spirituality movement.

Chapter 10 considers evidence of the role of language in maintaining and reproducing societal gender relations. It begins with an examination of English and English speakers and then proceeds with discussion of language in a variety of cultures. Data are derived from Japanese, Javanese, Malagasy (Madagascar), Kuna (Panama), and Mohawk (Native North America), with French, German, and Spanish briefly noted.

Finally, Chapter 11 summarizes the main arguments presented in our analyses of gender roles and relations. It also examines the impact of historical forces of change on gender models. The chapter concludes with a discussion of ideological barriers to changing beliefs and attitudes of gender but, in the end, stresses the possibility of individual and societal transformation.

I wish to thank Nancy Roberts, publisher; Sharon Chambliss, managing editor; and Angie Stone at Prentice Hall for their advice and encouragement throughout the preparation of this new edition.

Nancy Bonvillain

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