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Lauren FosterAnth 316Essay Exam 1: Nisa1. The !Kung women of the 1950s, before modernization became relevant amongst the !Kung society, were considered to have a high position in society relative to the men. Basing women’s position off of part one of Ernestine Friedl’s argument – that being more involved in providing primary subsistence gives you a higher position – would show that they in fact ranked higher than men. Basic subsistence for tribal hunting and gathering society is going out and getting the food. The !Kung too, relied heavily on gathering food, which was seen as the women’s work. They would gather plants and small animals and because vegetation was more reliable than large game animals, which only accounted for about 20 to 40 percent of the !Kung diet, the women were bringing in much more than the men (Shostak 1981: 12). As far as primary subsistence goes, women were producing almost twice as much food by weight as men (McKee Anth. 316: Lecture 3). Because they were the ones actually going out and collecting these essential food staples, women were the owners and controllers of what they gathered, in looking at Friedl’s argument, women would be of great value to the society and thus have a higher position in it. Part two of Friedl’s argument addresses the fact that not only must women provide the primary subsistence in order to be given this higher position in society, but that they should alsopublically distribute the product of subsistence. Everything in the !Kung society is shared, so women do indeed distribute what they’ve gathered. “Most women share what they bring
home, but there are no formal rules for distribution of gathered foods and those with large families may have little left over to give others,” (Shostak 1981: 11). This does give the women a certain status raise – being able to distribute the food how they see fit.