Kung!

8 August 2016

1. Ernestine Friedl says that the position of women is higher the more they are involved in (l) primary subsistence (as owners or controllers, NOT merely as laborers) and (2) the PUBLIC distribution of the product of subsistence. Use this argument to account for the position of women in Kung society. Make sure you use both part (l) and part (2) of Friedl’s argument. (Do not worry that Friedl’s argument is simplistic; she is not trying to say that women’s role in subsistence is the ONLY factor that affects their position in society.) Friedl states that the position of women is higher the more they are involved in primary subsistence, and the public distribution of that subsistence. I think this classes Kung! Women pretty high up the social ladder. Kung! Women, help gather a large portion of the food (almost all), and help with a lot of the tasks. They do care for the young, but they also help make the shelter, and help carry the few possessions they have from campground to campground (5). Most of what the Kung!

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Do in their down time is similar to their counterparts. They both tell stories, argue (but never get physical really) and even do the same medicine dances, and jokes. There is no “arrogant” men stereotype as it is considered rude to boast in Kung society (6). There really is no difference when it comes to communal actions between men and women. It comes down to marriage, and a bit of political rights which are a new invention in the Kung! Society. That is why women have such a high level in Kung! Society. 2.

Construct arguments for the following two propositions: (l) that Kung men have higher status and greater power than Kung women and (2) that there is equality between Kung men and Kung women. Which position do you agree with, and why? The Kung! Are a very peculiar case to me. There are very good arguments to say that the Kung have a higher status, and thus a higher amount of power than women, and an equally good arguments that men and women are pretty equal in their society. For example, the women and men tend to share the “load” of the child.

Yes, women take young children with them when they gather, but when it comes to carrying them around, men and women both tend to do it, until the children are weaned of this. A good example of equality, is how the men make sure to help the women wean the child, say when Nisa wants to keep drinking breast milk, the father pulls her off and threatens to hit her saying “can’t you see how swollen your mother is? ” (47). Though, on the other hand, the men can have multiple wives while women can not. Though, the women can “chase” off the other wives, as nisa did.

 I personally agree with the idea that Kung men have a higher status and power in society. Men, can get away with much more, and do have the power to hit their wives in fights (they seem, at least from the book to be the ones to strike first). Women, often fight back, but they rarely start the hitting. Additionally, the fact that men can have multiple wives, and it may not be considered cheating, shows me that Kung! Men have more power. What effect has modernization had on gender roles and gender relations among the Kung?

What do you foresee for the future? The Kung! ‘s way of life is shown to be threatened in this book. Tswana and Herero villages started to encompass more of the Kung! ‘s water holes, the Kung! Way of life has become threatened (194). If you cannot get water in the harsh desert, you cannot survive. To survive, you have to either work to take handouts, or you must work for the other tribes, such as animal herding for the Tswana. Because this was a more sedentary living, the amount of permanent structures increases.

People don’t go from water hole to water hole, they start to stay near the work, the food, and the traders. Pot’s pan’s colorful cloth goats all made it easier to stay in one place. This also made the Kung! Women’s childbearing cycle shorter, making there be more children. With more children, women become more dependent on their significant others, as they cannot hold two children and gather at the same time (195). As said in the book, this can upset the fragile relations of kung men and women in society.

If women are bringing home less food, and men are increasing their participation in politic’s, the gender equality shifts to the right, to men being considered “superior” 195. In the future, I see that as globalization continues to occur for the Kung! , western ideal’s will sadly lower the place of women in their society. To me, there is not much hope until the influences (in this case, the other “civilized” tribes) start to treat women the same amount, and allow them into politics. Works Cited Shostak, Marjorie. Nisa, the life and words of a ! Kung woman. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1981. Print.

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