The Kung

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's November 2001

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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...

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