women's perspective in anthropology

Michael Thomas Carson (mcarson@HAWAII.EDU)
Wed, 6 Sep 1995 01:54:10 -1000

in response to Ruby Rohrlich's comments about feminism in anthropology
and the roles of women in the discipline ...

I do not see how anybody could deny that women are treated unfairly in
anthropology. It's obvious to me that women are not given the same
priveleges as men with hiring and with the acceptance of new ideas and
achievements in the field.

Being that I am not a woman, it's a little awkward for me to express
these sentiments in their proper manner, but I'll see what I can do.

It appears to me that men and women learn different gender roles in their
societies. This might fall under the broad category of learned cultural
behavior. If this is learned, then I think it's possible for men and
women to learn each other's roles and perspectives. Of course, this
process will probably not be easy. But I think it's necessary if we want
to grow as human beings as well as to make advances in anthropology. We
cannot continue to be ignorant of other people's ideas. Further, we
cannot stifle each other's works. Rather than judge research on our
perceptions of the researcher, instead we should judge the research by
its own merit.

I've found time and time again that women in anthropology have produced
some remarkable pieces of work way ahead of their times. Sadly, these
achievements were not accepted by the general anthropological community
until many years later. In some cases, male anthropologists tried to
re-invent the same research without giving proper credit to the women who
first developed these ideas. As far as I know, this is one of the worst
things any scholar could ever do.

I've found that men and women explore very different research topics and
that they have different impressions and interpretations of data in the
field. I think that we should take advantage of these differences and
learn something. If anthropology is dominated by a single gender, then
some very important insights will never be known.

Personally, I'd like to know more about this topic, because I think we
should all be aware of the history of anthropological thought.

I'm certain that many of my remarks will not be well-received. I hope
that people will be kind enough to share their opinions with me and to
expand upon any points which I failed to address sufficiently.

- Mike Carson