The Kung Essay

1164 words - 5 pages

1 Ernestine Friedl's assertion that women's position in society is higher the more they are involved with primary subsistence and distribution holds true for women in the Kung society. Shotak writes, "kung women are recognized by men and women alike as the primary economic providers of the group. They gather vegetable foods from the wild at least three days a week providing the majority of the daily diet of their families and other dependants." (Shoztak,pg 240) The fact that women in Kung society are heavily involved with primary subsistence affords them great power and independence within the group structure of the Kung. Kung men have little control or influence over the women's gathering practices. Shoztak goes on to write that, "This economic activity is an autonomous undertaking. Men do not regulate women's schedules, do not tell them which foods to gather or where to go"¦"(Shoztak, pg 241) The Kung women are considered experts at what they do, and the men have little right to interfere with that which they do not know. In this case, you cannot send a man to do a job that a woman knows best. Kung women attain such clout not only because they are in charge of the gathering, but more so because they are in charge of distribution.A Kung woman does not return to the village and turn over the fruits of her labor to the man in the family. The women are in the powerful position of allocating that which she has worked for. In addressing this, Shoztak writes, "When a women returns to the village, she determines how much of her gatherings will be given away and to whom." (Shoztak, pg 242) In some ways, this makes Kung women the givers of life and survival. A Kung woman can ensure the sustenance of her family, or can just as easily abandon this activity to the family's demise. This fact elevates the position of Kung women in relation to that of the men, and as Shoztak states, "From start to finish, her labor and its product remain under her own control." (Shoztak, pg 242) 2. In the Kung society, men do have higher status and greater power than Kung women. The product of a Kung man's labor, meat, is held in much higher regard than the vegetable foods gathered by Kung women. Shoztak writes, "Meat, the economic contribution of men, is considered more valuable than gathered foods." (Shoztak, pg 243) Although meat is a smaller part of the Kung diet, attaching greater significance to it diminishes the importance of Kung woman's worth to the group in relation to the men. Despite the fact that women play a key role in group sustenance, the Kung men are elevated to greater positions of power and influence. As Shoztak states, "Kung men, however, do seem to have the upper hand. They more often hold positions of influence-as spokespeople for the group or as healers-and their somewhat greater authority in many areas of Kung life is acknowledged by men and women alike."(Shoztak, pg 237) Although there is no...

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