Beyond the Second Sex: New Directions in the Anthropology of Gender

By Peggy Reeves Sanday; Ruth Gallagher Goodenough | Go to book overview
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In the company of the ethnographic essays that make up the rest of this volume, Ruth Goodenough's contribution presents a change of focus and scale. Dealing with the transient cultures of small groups rather than with a stable, historical society, her study of sexism at the kindergarten level offers insight into the kinds of social situations that may generate antagonism toward females.

The groups studied are from American middle-class society. That one group should show a strongly egalitarian bent and the other a chauvinistic one is attributed by the author to features of stress in the situation of the more sexist one.

The more sexist group is marked by hierarchy, control, male separatism, dominance behaviors, exaggerated male bonding, rejection of dependency, devaluation of things female, and repression of feminine input. These features are largely absent from the other group, which is marked instead by an ethic of respect for the individual and a positive valuation of nurturance. The reader will find parallels between the characteristics of the egalitarian group and the social ethos of the Vanatinai and the Minangkabau, described by Lepowsky and Sanday, respectively, in this volume.

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