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In this essay I will look at whether the inequality between men and women is a human universal or whether there are or have been societies in which women shared power equally with men or even exercised power over them In order to do so I will look at the writings of a number of anthropologistsIn The Subordinance of Women A Problematic Universal author Ruth Bleier indicates that a central premise in the biological explanations inequality between women and men in present-day cultures is that the subordinate position of women is a universal - across all time and all cultures She tells us that these assumptions and conclusions have always invited the biological explanations that woman is subordinate because childbearing and motherhood limit her productive contributions her mobility and her participation in the public sphere of human activity These same assumptions are used to explain that man is aggressive and universally dominant because of his genetic makeup that has given him his hunting prowess successful sexual competition and his male sex hormonesBleier tells us that this claim that women have always had an inferior status makes it necessary to look at some of the important recent conceptual and empirical work of feminist and other anthropologists that calls into question this viewpoint and assumption In doing so we examine the validity of those universals that have been important assumptions in anthropological research Bleier looks at the variety of relationships and responsibilities to characterize the position of women throughout prehistory in history and analyzes some of the factors that may account for the particular patterns in a culture Her other purpose has been to examine evidence and propose hypothesis relating to the question of how in the cultural evolution of civilization women came to lose control over most aspects of their lives in patriarchal societies Recognizing that the subordination of women to men is a historical development characterizing patriarchal cultures that have come to dominate world civilization
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