Social Inequality Between Men And Women

1120 words - 4 pages

There are many forms of social inequality that can be analyzed in the study of anthropology. One of these is the social inequality between men and women. Though gender is studied relatively commonly in the field of anthropology, it is not often looked at through the lens of social inequality. The observations of Sarah Lamb and Deborah Tannen in their articles, "The Politics of Dirt and Gender: Body Techniques in Bengali India," and "Who's Interrupting?: Issues of Dominance and Control," respectively, lend a great deal of information to the topic at hand, as does my general observations of the conversations and traditions that occur in the sociocultural setting of the family dinner table. The social inequalities between men and women are often rationalized by the stereotypes that are perpetuated in their respective societies. However, there is an interesting wrinkle here: the stereotypes are different! So, which one is closer to the true inherent nature of men and women?

Some of the ways that the inequalities are rationalized and held in place within the culture are by referring to the innate differences between males and females. In Lamb's account of the use of dirt in India, she mentions how the innate gender differences are considered in India to be not only psychological and physical for the obvious differences in endowment, but, as a North Indian saying goes: "Women are like unglazed earthen water jugs, which are permeable and become easily contaminated to such depth that they cannot be purified. Men are like impermeable brass jugs, which are difficult to contaminate and easy to purify" (Lamb 221). The fact that men and women are both being compared to jugs indicate that they have approximately the same form, but the materials with which the jugs are made could not be more different. The unglazed earthen material that women are "made of" is very close to the dirt that is the center of the article, and is dull and not shiny, and the metal material that men are "made of" is smooth and shiny. This goes even further when Lamb states that skin color has a bigger impact on women in India than men- the darker-skinned women are considered to be even more impure and open than the light-skinned ones, and require a special dowry to be paid to the groom while getting married off, if they ever get married at all!

Even in modern American society, there are stereotypes that are perpetuated about the innate differences between men and women. Tannen writes that there is a "commonly held stereotype that women talk and interrupt men (188)," but also goes on to state that research shows that men interrupt women. In other words, men and women interrupt each other. She even defines different types of interruption and divides them into groups including: interruption without overlap, overlap without interruption, successful cooperative overlapping, unsuccessful cooperative overlapping, and uncooperative overlapping. She concludes that men and...

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